Sunday, September 15, 2013

Good Times, Bad Times

It may be that you’ve never done much work on a car. Perhaps you couldn’t even give a pair of solid wastes about cars in general. But even then, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize that when a car is parked for a long time without running…. “things” can happen to it.

Gasoline turns to rancid black coffee. Batteries turn to inert rocks. Moving parts that were once separate, fuse and seize up as nature begins to reclaim its own. None of these things is conducive to the successful operation of the car.

None of this is surprising, of course, and I was prepared for whatever I might encounter.

So, the bad news first.

I tried to jump-start the Eagle in a moment of optimism using the never-complaining workhorse that is our Corolla. I succeeded in getting the radio and lights to work, and in making the jumper cables and the Eagle’s starter solenoid red-hot (the latter let off a bit of smoke). But when I turned the key, the Eagle just said “…….rrrrrrrr…….rr……..” very quietly. The Corolla, on the other hand, complained loudly and was all like, dude, you expect me to start that? LOLWTFBBQ!

A few more tries got the same response. The next day I took the Eagle’s battery to Autozone in another fit of optimism to see if it could be re-charged. The manager at the counter brought out the battery tester first. After hooking up the clamps to the terminals, pressing the same button on the tester repeatedly, adjusting the clamps, hitting the same button again, he said something like, “Yeah, so it’s not even recognizing it as a battery.”

In a doubtful voice, he said he could put it on the “really slow trickle charger” but I knew it was probably curtains. Sure enough, two hours later, I came back and found this:

Eagle battery haz a sad.

But now, the good news. I located the gas cap and proceeded to try to get a whiff of the contents. To my relief, the gas still smelled like gas (never thought I’d say that). This means that if I fill the tank with the expensive stuff and a couple additives, I should be in the clear as far as the fuel system goes. So one system down (most likely), a dozen to go.

My other big worry about getting the Eagle to start was that the pistons might be seized – in other words, that the most important moving parts of the engine might have become “glued” to their surroundings in such a way that even a new battery wouldn't be able to start the engine - oh yeah, and the car would be pretty much useless.

The easy way to test this is to take the appropriate size wrench and rotate the crankshaft manually. This took some significant effort… BUT! It moved! It rotated almost a full turn in each direction which means that all the pistons are able to move. I sang a little song in my head that was something like “The pistons aren't seized! So glad the pistons aren't seized.” (to the tune of “The Cheat is Not Dead”)

Next time, the attempt to start it once again.


  1. Got some details on the car, like transmission type, engine size, type of leak and why did you pick this as your project?

  2. Good call. I'll address that sort of thing in the next couple of posts.