February 16th, 2013


That's probably not so good

On the Thursday evening drive home from work the Expedition was acting rather oddly. It was stumbling on acceleration, had an uneven idle and generally felt like one of the cylinders was misfiring. Halfway through the commute the Check Engine Light (CEL) illuminated, which didn't surprise me -- after all, the engine was clearing having a problem. What was more vexing was that immediately after lighting up the CEL started flashing. I'm not sure about other OBD-II equipped vehicles, but on a Ford that flashing means something has gone seriously awry. Eventually the light stopped flashing and went back to steady illumination, which eased my mind a bit that I wasn't about to drop a piston on I-88 right in the middle of Downer's Grove.

Being who I am I did, of course, hope that it was simply a random happenstance. The Expy is sometimes a fickle truck and it's been known to have the odd misfire that happens one day and then disappears the next, not to return for a year or more. Friday's drive to and from the office confirmed that this is, unfortunately, not the case. I haven't put the code scanner on the truck yet, but I'm relatively certain it's the same ailment that has befallen that engine before: the ongoing failures of the coil pack on cylinder number eight. This is something of a "known bug" on this particular year (1998) and model of engine (Triton v8 5.4L). I've replaced this coil pack at least twice before, so if I get back "Misfire on Cylinder 8" from the OBD scanner I won't be in the least surprised. However, it's about 3 degrees below freezing outside and I don't have a level surface to work on (read: the garage is full of Stuff, as it has been for the last few years) and I don't relish the idea of receiving frostbite on my fingers or breaking something that's plastic inside the engine compartment. So this time around I'll be sending the Expedition off to a mechanic to have this coil pack replaced. Downside to this plan? Oh yes, there's a downside -- my favorite mechanic moved out of Bolingbrook, closed the shop they moved to, moved again (even further away) and seem to have closed again. The last phone number that [personal profile] lady_curmudgeon had for them has been "Temporarily Disconnected," which is a bad sign. I suspect that once again he's gone under due to poor location, or he's relocated again for the same reason. Regardless of the cause, I don't think I'll be chasing after him. The location he left behind has been occupied by a new mechanic ("Nuno's") and a friend has recommended another nearby shop ("Tuffy's"). I'll give them both a call on Monday and see what sort of lead time and prices are quoted to me.

I hate paying for work I could (and have) complete myself! However, I think in this case (it's below freezing in the winter, the process takes a long time to get done, I'd be out in the weather for several hours swearing at the cold and the components I have to replace while trying to evolve two more elbows on my right arm) I think my comfort wins out over my desire to save a hundred dollars or so in labor charges.

Right here right now

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