Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Bye Jaws, Hello A4

Our stable of cars has had a small change. Today's post covers that, and the fun a new car brought with it.

Bye Jaws
I didn't really post much about the '87 Jeep Cherokee, except during a complaint about having too many cars (See Oh Clutch). Jaws was T's daily driver, transporting him back and forth from home to Reno Nevada and back multiple times, back and forth to Sacramento, the mountain and his job for over a year. He poured plenty of money and love into that Cherokee. Brakes and oil, like any other car, of course were changed. He also replaced the clutch, and I replaced the rear window. He installed a bluetooth stereo and other creature comforts. In the end, though, he didn't want to put any more money into it, and at over 330k miles, I can't say I blame him. Within a couple days of posting on craigslist, he had multiple respondents and he sold it off.

Our A4 History
T's first car was an A4. It was a 2.7L non-turbo, but he loved it from the day he bought it (See Gotta Keep Moving). The guy he bought it from was the original owner and he babied it. Unfortunately, the timing belt needed to be done (see Planning Winter Break), but that wasn't obvious until much later. He got a stereo earlier and had it butchered by Car Toys (see Flash Gets Sounds), but moved it into the A4. Ultimately, he decided he wanted something different, and traded it for a Subaru. The guy with the subbie said he was an Audi guy, but ultimately, the trade may not have been a very good deal for either of them. We saw the A4 back on craigslist a few months later with a blown engine, so we guessed that the "Audi guy" didn't heed the warnings about doing the timing belt immediately. The Subbie got broken into in Reno and totalled by the insurance company so neither car fared especially well. T did learn some things through the ownership of both cars, so, maybe it wasn't all bad.

Hello A4
the 2.7L at purchase
This brings us to the newest member of the herd. Once Jaws was gone, T drove Dude (our 2000 Saturn) to work while he saved up some money. He wanted a black A4 again. He found one without having to look for too long. Same make/model/year as his old one, but the new one has a 1.8L turbo and a deep brown leather interior. So nice. T is the third owner, and while it has higher miles than the last one (225k), it has lots of fancy bits like an upgraded suspension and a bigger exhaust. It needed a timing belt done, had a really bad coolant leak from the pump and has a leaking power steering system. Of the issues, the timing belt and cooling pump were most immediate. T bought it and had it delivered on a wrecker on a Friday night. T and I attacked the coolant pump and timing belt the following morning.

Timing Belt Discoveries
We shied away from the 2.7 timing belt job a couple years ago because it was a dual-overhead cam. Keeping everything aligned and getting the belt on correctly with 3 gears (2 cams, plus crank) felt too big. Yeah, we got a-scared and begged off. T wanted a different car anyway, or so he thought. Anyway, one cam felt do-able.

We followed internet directions, but there were things that we discovered that were unexpected. For instance, I was really surprised how easily everything came apart. Seriously, after working on VW's, I expected the Audi to be equally difficult with a gazillion different fastener types and weird tools needed. Nope. We needed a big Allen key for the large serpentine gear on the end of the crankshaft and Torx for getting the front radiator / core support and a few other things off. Otherwise, it was pretty common hex nut/bolts. The internet directions were spot-on. I'll find and share the link. We suffered no rust, but there were a couple fasteners that were torqued on so tight, we needed to solve for a breaker bar. For example, those Allen bolts holding the serpentine belt gear. We took the pipe that is used on the floor jack and slid it around the Allen key. That allowed for a smooth application of force, and the bolts released without stripping.

Zoom Zoom
After a Saturday of pulling it apart and starting to put it back together, we spent a few hours on Sunday finishing the put-together. To be fair, T did almost all of the work while I continued the tear-down of the donorZed. Still, the timing belt parts fit cleanly, and after flushing the cooling system we were ready to test fire. It started right up. Seriously, it started like it hadn't sat for 6 months and then gotten towed and a timing belt service. The aftermarket exhaust gives it a nice low growl. So, after a very short test drive where a charged-air hose popped off, the rest of the front end was put together and T took a longer, more spirited test run. In his words... "that thing can pull!" Clearly, he likes the turbo. It's his first turbo, and now that he's felt it, he probably won't ever willingly go back to naturally aspirated.

Well, that's it for today. T did discover that the sunroof is not operating correctly. With the rainy weather not going away and 2 cars already occupying the garage, we'll be tackling that soon. Outside... in the sprinkles. Neat. Oh.. and there's a coolant leaking from somewhere. Ahh.. the joy of new-to-you cars.

Thanks, as always, for following along-

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