Saturday the 29th of October, I thought I would wake up and clean up the garage. I also wanted to finish putting away all the items that I’d used for the truck repair and generally get things back to normal. I also bought some special cleaner to clean the Mass Air Flow sensor in the truck. I read that these need periodic cleaning and that if they aren’t the throttle can be sluggish. I never heard of a Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor. As before, I looked it up and found out what it is and how to clean it. I figure I’ll do this while I’m cleaning the garage.

Next thing you know I decide to pull the number 1 cylinder spark plug just to take a look at it. It’s got all types of black soot on it. A definite sign of the air/fuel mixture being too rich. Makes a lot of sense with with those faulty intake manifold gaskets. (That reminds me, as I was cleaning up the garage, I looked at the old gaskets. I’m surprised my truck ran at all with those things. They were in tattered shape and just came apart in pieces when I took them off). The last shop I took the truck to,informed me that the engine is sucking in all sorts of air and I’m sure that was creating a mixture problem with the fuel and the high idle. Well I took off a couple more spark plugs and now I’m committed. Time to change all eight and install some fresh ones.

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned or was reminded of in this whole process, is to not fear trying something new. Something way out of the box in your personal life. Now it is good to research it and get all the info that you can. Once you get all your ducks in a row, Do It. Set your mind to have some fun and enjoy the process. There were many times in this repair, I felt like I had made a big mistake. This was as much a mental exercise as it was the physical act of doing the repair. It was so beyond my normal type of thing in repairing a car that it left me with an empowered feeling once it was complete. That if I set my mind to it, I could do just about anything. I like that. That is what directed me to change the spark plugs. Actually minus the spark plug wires, I did just about an entire full tune-up on the truck and if I can do intake manifold gaskets, what’s spark plugs. Right? That is also what is going to direct me to do some light body work in the future and get rid of the rusty parts and make it look more like new.

This is so far away from a few years ago, when my truck wouldn’t start and I had it towed to a shop, where they did a major tune-up and I’d hoped the high idle would go away then. It didn’t and I remember being so bummed. Another time I got a new water pump installed. Both of these repairs were in the $400.00 range each. I could have saved all types of money and learned some valuable skills and lessons doing them myself. When you know better, you do better. A great quote originally from Maya Angelou and often coined by Oprah Winfrey.

I’m glad to have gone through the experience and even more glad that I could share my experience with you, constant reader. Thanks for keeping up with my story and sending some vibes of encouragement and support. It didn’t go unnoticed.

Always Remember…You don’t have permission to Quit.

Jeffrey Washington

Star Date: 12 October in the year 2011

I had to step back and reassess my situation. It looked like I was making more of a mess than I thought. I had to remind myself that as with most things it was going to get worse before it gets better.

Maybe you’ve been in a situation similar to this. You take on a project and for you to do it, you have to demolish the old to bring in the new. Well for a minute while I’m in this step the old looks like I’ve made a BIG mistake. It looks like I’ve bitten of more than I can chew. That’s where I was on Sunday. Even though I was taking notes, tagging wires and taking lots of pictures; it just felt, for a split second, that I was going to blow it. I kept thinking that I had this mess of wires and cables and wouldn’t be able to figure it out. Remember what I said in my other post about patience. Lesson number 1.

I spent much of Sunday, too much of Sunday, just looking at the engine bay. Too afraid to go any farther and unsure if I could return everything to the way it was before. As I always try to espouse to others, never quit. I have to remind myself of that at times as well. It can be difficult even for the person that came up with the mantra. This has been as much of a mental exercise as one of skill and technique. I lack some of the know how, but the information that I have gleaned from various parts of the internet have made the task seem less daunting.

This makes me wonder, what types of projects have you taken the plunge with and have had similar experiences. I would love to hear some of your stories. Perhaps we can learn from each other.

Always Remember…you don’t have permission to Quit.

Jeffrey Washington

I’m taking the plunge. For more time than I care to admit, my 1996 Chevy Pickup has been running a bit rough. The idle is around 1500 rpms, while your sitting still instead of the normal of 600 rpm. I’ve taken it to a couple repair shops and have been told by both that I need my intake manifold gaskets replaced. The first place I went to said they would charge around $600.00 plus parts and knowing how much they mark up for parts, the job probably would be hovering around $900.00 or so.

The second shop flat out told me that the cost would be around $1000.00. Welll, that gave me plenty of pause. I had to buy a set of tires last year because the slipping and sliding was getting a bit dangerous. Along with the higher revving engine, I hated driving my truck in the winter. Now what is the purpose of having 4 X 4 pickup in a part of the country that gets its fair amount of snow if you can’t drive it. My sentiment exactly. The elephant in the room is $1000 on a fifteen year old pickup truck with 140,000+ miles.

I’ve always wondered if this is a repair that I could do myself. I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty. Just this summer, my youngest child, Jorden, helped me put a new alternator in the truck after it bought the farm. We had a good time and felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment after we completed the task. Compared to intake manifold gaskets, I imagine, this will look like child’s play.

I checked around on the internet and was happy to find a couple sites, where regular guys like myself, chronicled their experiences with this very same repair. They discussed the parts needed, had plenty of pictures and a lot of text explaining what they did and the problems they faced. I was elated. The parts appear to cost around $150.00. I would only have to input the time.

Well I checked around and found all the parts on Amazon.com and ordered what I needed. I thought about just going to a shop nearby, but some of the parts were significantly cheaper for the exact same item and manufacturer. I’m taking the plunge and I think I will take along this blog for the ride.

I consider this somewhat a story of keeping up with a survival skill as it is important to learn new things and save any money you can to put in more important areas in your life and family.

This will probably be an ongoing series of a few blog posts chronicling how it all went. I’m looking forward to the truck running much better and getting back to being fun to drive. I’ve got a feeling I’m really going to test my motto found below. 🙂 Wish me well.

Remember…you don’t have permission to quit.

Jeffrey Washington


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