Sunday, December 19, 2010

DIY: Replace CV Joint and Swivel Ball Seals on a Range Rover Classic or Discovery I [RRC/D1]

Before and after- look how clean!

Fast Facts
  • Time Involved: four or five hours
  • Approximate Cost excluding tools: $200 if you're replacing the CV joint, $90 for seals only
  • Required Tools: Jack, two jack stands, ratchet, metric sockets (typical sizes), 2 1/16" hub socket, Pitman Arm Puller tool, sturdy Circlip/Snap Ring pliers.
  • Recommended Tools: Torque wrench, breaker bar (the bolts can be very much seized on), 14mm ratcheting wrench.
  • Parts Needed: replacement CV Joint, Rover One-Shot grease (or gear oil), and a swivel ball seal kit. 
  • Shop Supplies:  one can PB Blaster,  one can engine degreaser, a tube of Hylomar sealant, and blue threadlocker.

If you use these directions, please comment back with your experience! 

A common malady for Land Rovers that have swivel ball type CV axle housing is for the seals to wear out on the swivel ball (sometimes referred to as "swivel housing") , resulting in leaking oil or grease. This is a serious issue; if it goes undetected, the CV joint will run dry and eventually fail, which will leave you stranded and could cause an accident if it occurs at high speeds.

Several months ago, my passenger side CV joint failed. I found that there was no grease left in the housing at all,  replaced the CV joint, and filled both housings up with grease. What I didn't realize was that the passenger side housing had a pretty bad leak. Duh- that's why it was empty in the first place! So, six months after replacing the CV joint, I was taking the axle apart again to replace the seals. This time, I took pictures.

If you replace your CV joint, you should replace your swivel housing seals. It's half-ass if you don't. Once you've removed the parts necessary to replace the CV, you're only a few steps from replacing the seals.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Test Drive: 2011 Kia Soul, "the Hamster"

image courtesy Kia Motors America, Inc. 
About two months ago, my old Land Rover was sideswiped by someone. This is a story in itself, of which I'll spare the details. Just remember, if you hit someone's parked car, don't be a jerkoff. Leave your information. It's a lot easier than having the cops bang on your door later that night because the neighbors got your tag number, idiot.

The damage to the Rover was relatively superficial, but I wanted to get it fixed, so I filed a claim with the idiot's insurance company, Progressive. Now, I've heard horror stories about Progressive's willingness to pay out on claims, but I can't say a single bad thing about the way they handled mine. Without even waiting for me to ask, the rep offered to handle arrangements for my rental car while my Rover was being repaired. Horrific images of a subcompact, Hyundai Accent/Kia Rio/Chevy Aveo rental car immediately filled my mind, so I asked the rep, "Would it be possible for me to get a car that's equivalent in size to my Rover?"

I expected the worst, but surprisingly was assured that I would in fact get an SUV from Enterprise. My appointment to get the Rover fixed wasn't for a month, so I forgot about the whole thing until the day I dropped my truck off at the shop. Enterprise isn't kidding when they say "We'll pick you up" - an employee was waiting for me when I pulled into the shop at 8:00am. Nice.

"Sir, exactly how old are you?" the young-faced Enterprise rep asked me as I reached into my pocket to produce identification. Barely old enough to rent a car, I realized that the nice, V8 Explorer sitting there waiting for me was probably not a risk that Enterprise was willing to take... and I can't even pretend that they're wrong about that suspicion. I don't *abuse* rentals, but I do "test them" rather intensely. 

Half an hour later at the rental office, I was presented with the keys to a 2011 Kia Soul. "Haven't you seen that commercial with the hamsters?" a woman behind the counter remarked. The Soul definitely wasn't an SUV like I was promised, but I was interested in seeing what the new "box car" concept is all about, so I took the opportunity to give it a full test.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

DIY: Replace track rod ends/tie rod ends on a Range Rover Classic or Discovery I [RRC/D1]

Fast Facts
  • Time Involved: about four hours, if you're just replacing the track rod ends. 
  • Required Tools: Jack, two jack stands, vise, ratchet, 19mm, 14mm, and 11mm sockets, Pitman Arm Puller, pipe wrench.
  • Recommended Tools: Torque wrench, breaker bar (the bolts can be very much seized on)
  • Parts Needed: new track rod ends (4). Most RRC's will use three right hand and one left hand threaded track rod end.
  • Shop Supplies: a can of PB Blaster and a generous amount of antiseize compound.

About a week ago, I dropped the Range Rover off at Achbach Auto Industries for a 4-wheel alignment. I've known for a long time that my truck had worn tie rod ends (or, as the Brits call them, track rod ends), but had been pushing the matter to the back of my mind and hoping the problem would somehow go away. (Note to self: this tactic never works)

Well, it turns out that they're finally, officially, completely shot. Dan called me and informed me that I had a half-inch of play in my front suspension, and kindly showed me the problem in person with my truck up on the lift. (If you live in Ohio and wreck your car, Achbach is where you take it. Period.) He also noticed that my right swivel housing was profusely leaking grease, which is a major concern since I just replaced the CV joint on that side. "Looks like I've got a project for Winter break," I thought.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The "Flip" - 2002 Ford Crown Victoria P71 Police Interceptor a.k.a. "the Cop Car"

There's something about the Ford Crown Victoria that just makes it an icon. For ages it's been recognized, sometimes affectionately, but more often with dread, as the all-American "cop car."

The Crown Victoria name was first used by Ford in 1955. It grew increasingly popular as a police fleet vehicle beginning in the 1970s because of its heavy-duty, old-school body on frame construction, which allowed the body to be repaired quickly and economically after officers had accidents. Of course, we can't forget about the V-8 engine and live rear axle... the Crown Victoria isn't a sports car by any stretch of the imagination, but it's definitely fun to drive.

The Police Interceptor naturally had a spot on my unwritten "Drive Before I Die" list.  My opportunity to cross it off that list came quite unexpectedly one day in the Summer of 2010.

Some impulse bidding on a municipal government auction website won me a 2002 model, with the incredibly low mileage of 225,000. [end sarcasm.] I made a low-ball bid on the site and forgot about it until about a week later, when my phone buzzed during dinner and I saw the subject line "You've won! Please make arrangements to pick item 2002 F..."

Friday, December 10, 2010


My name's Nick, and I have an uncontrollable passion for anything related to cars.

For the past several years, I've wanted to start a blog to chronicle my motoring-related adventures, but I've never quite found the time. 

Well, I finally started a blog, and I plan on updating it frequently with all kinds of content related to buying, selling, repairing and driving cars.

Check back frequently, as I'll be adding photos and stories that have been gathering dust on my computer, as well as new stuff that I'll post as I go along.