Saturday, October 15, 2005

King of the road

The Boss Lady and kids are gone for the weekend. They left Friday after lunch and should be home some time Sunday evening. With all of my hobbies, you might think that I would spend a free weekend doing fun and exciting stuff.


I decided last night that this would be the weekend I finally made the light go off. The Boss Lady's car has a light that shows if the charging system has a problem. It has been popping on every few days for a couple of weeks. And in the last couple of days, it seems to always be lit.

I have not exactly ignored it, but I could not figure it out. The battery was recharging fine. The car was not having any trouble starting. The alternator tested ok, the belt looks good. Everything I could think to check was fine.

After Racecar Man and I put a code reader on the car this morning and we spent a couple of hours chasing other problems, we were still left with a shiny little light on the dash. I ran to the auto parts store and asked to have the alternator tested for a 3rd time.

The manager helped me out and tested the car quickly. He noticed everything was fine ands suggested that I replace the voltage regulator and alternator brushes. I played dumb (something I do well AND often) and I admitted that I thought the regulator was inside of the alternator. He pointed it out on the side of the alternator and he took the time to explain that the brushes were underneath the regulator and it would not take an hour to swap out both parts. But of course, they did not have the parts in stock.

I found the regulator and brushes in stock, two auto parts stores later. They asked if I wanted the Mazda style or Motorcraft style brushes. I just wanted the right ones. Doubtful that the Mazda style brushes were the right ones, I opted for the Motorcraft style. But they were out of stock. So zoom zoom, I bought the Mazda style. While looking later online, I found that the two have identical parts numbers...

After installing the new parts and still seeing the light on the dash, I cried.

I took the brushes out, put the old ones back in, with a little modification, and Viola', no trouble lights on the dash! Unfortunately, when I was reinstalling them, I dropped the old brushes and a spring fell out. I never found the spring, so I formed a new one, out of a much larger spring. But I did not really trust this new spring, so I wanted to look closer at the new brushes again, perhaps I could rob a spring out of them.

Then I realized that the new brushes had a little tab that keeps the internal springs in place while you install them. Once you get everything buttoned up, you pull the tab and the brushes engage. But I only figured that out because I pulled the tab and the new part exploded all over the garage!

I managed to reassemble the brushes and reinstall the retainer tab. Then, I re-replaced the old brushes and re-re-installed the new voltage regulator. And after a few donuts in the cul du sac, NO MORE TROUBLE LIGHT!

And my seats were not rattling during the donuts, either.

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