Sunday, November 27, 2016

Here we go again

When last I drove the Thousand Dollar Car, I noted that it was shifting... reluctantly... and ...confusedly...


There are two possibilities.  Firstly, the transmission could be going.  If so, so be it.  The second, and easy to rectify, is that its adaptive learning software has worked itself into a frazzled state.  I searched the internet for the definitive manual reset process, which involves putting the ignition key into the "run" position but not starting the car, holding the gas pedal (not a fancy "accelerator" like the Merc, no; a real, genuine cable driving a throttle body) to the floor for ten seconds as it holds a "full throttle" switch, then a strange combination of turning the key off, letting go, turning the key on, putting your left foot in, pulling it out, and performing the rest of the Hokey Pokey.  Anyway, I did all this and started it up and marveled at how nicely it up and down-shifted to my whims.  Hooray!

Except the battery light was on the whole time.  Deja vu.  In May.  Six months ago. 

I brought her into the garage and accessed the battery compartment in the trunk.  Yup, filled with cold water, easily half-way up the battery.  Batteries don't like cold, and a cold water is happy to sap energy quickly.  I wrestled the battery out of there and scooped/siphoned/sponged the water out of the plastic compartment.  How is it getting in there?  The only place I can think of is the sunroof, but its drains go forward and empty on the front door A pillars.  I ran some water through them to verify they're not blocked.  Back in the compartment, I noticed a small, flat circle stamped into the bottom of the tray.  Could this be a drainage hole, blocked by accumulated soot  through the years?  I grabbed an awl and started scratching.  It wasn't looking promising until I got a little to come up, then a little more.  I was in 3/8ths of an inch when I grabbed a drill bit.  Spin, grab, spin grab and then a breakthrough.  I grabbed a gallon of water and started pouring it in and sure enough, it evacuated down and out by the back wheel.  So there is a drain!

I took the battery over to Autozone and their tester said it was down to 45%; they'd keep it and see if it would take a charge.  Two hours later, they called that it was ready.  Next step: alternator?  Everything hooked back up, 12.6 volts off; 12.1 while running.  Crap! Could a cold, wet battery that won't charge take down an alternator?  Apparently it had.  After 6 months.  Ah well, Autozone was happy to cover it under warranty and put in the order.  I'm sure It will show up in a few days.

In the meantime, she's back in the garage, up on blocks, drying out from the overnight rain (but with a dry battery compartment!), waiting for  me to begin the long sequence of removing the front end to gain enough clearance to relieve the serpentine belt's tensioner enough to slide it off a pully so I can pull the alternator itself.  Probably about two hours of work, maybe a little less now that I've done it... a few times.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Chrome Wheels, Fuel Injected

...and stepping out over the line!

So says Bruce Springsteen in Born to Run.

I swerved down into Harpswell, ME, on the way home from Boston Logan airport and another business trip, and checked out a 2010 Audi S5.  As sexy as coupes come, and pretty much as quick as they do as well.  350 horse, same with torque, and all wheel drive combine to get you to 60 in 4.9.  After driving it, I don't doubt it.

I spent last night and half of today trying to convince myself I want it.

But then I took an hour and put the replacement fuel injector into old blue, the A8, hooked up all the plumbing and wiring and crossed my fingers as I turned the key.  Stumble, stumble, rumble, rumble and then the fuel rails pressurized and the familiar sweet swell and steady, smooth idle of this old soldier of an engine settled in.  Yap, that's what she's supposed to do.  I backed her out of the garage and up onto the road, honked the horn, and gave her some heavy footage.  She just ran away, smooth, refined, competent, quick.

Now that's what I like in a car!  Sorry S5; you're unrefined like a mustang.  And you're not as much fun as this old girl.

I picked up the Mercedes with her new accelerator (not a gas pedal, nay-nay; an accelerator) and pointed her towards home.  After the hour of driving I'd put into the A8, the Merc was simply sterile and boring.  And she'll be headed out the door.

I'll bide my time and wait for the right 2011 A8 to come along.
Keep in mind that the exterior is even more beautiful.
The back seat is pretty nice, too.

It's taken a lot of dates for me to realize that what I want was waiting for me at home all along.  Of course, Mrs. Toadroller was quick to say she'd told me so, and she was right.  Again.