About 31 or so years since the last time, I once again have the flu. I am so healthy normally that anytime I get the least bit sick, I feel like I'm dying. So it is with this bout. If I stop blogging, it could be that I'm dead. I'm kidding, but I really feel horrible.
Right now, the way I'm feeling, death would be a relief.
Anyway, besides that, I am feeling rather proud of myself. I am not a mechanic, nor could I ever be mistaken for one. But I am proud to say I actually made a successful diagnosis of my car problem the other day.
Do you see this?
That little black flat rectangular thing attached to that hose is what's called a Mass Air Flow sensor (MAF). It is situated on the hose that links the air filter with the air intake. The MAF is supposed to sense and monitor the amount of air flowing between the air filter and the manifold. It is electronic. If it fails, or simply reads the air flow wrong, it causes major problems with the car.
In my case, the car runs but it runs badly. It chokes and sputters and stalls when the car is stopped. As long as I'm moving, the car runs fine. But whenever I stop the car at a red light or a stop sign, it has a tendency to stall. Although, if I put it in neutral while stopped it idles a little higher and lessens the chance for stalling. If it stalls anyway, it starts right up again.
I thought, because I really don't know much about cars, that it was a bad fuel filter, particularly after I took the car to AutoZone, and had them run a computer diagnosis on it. They will do that for free. That must be a little known secret because auto shops in the area here charge up to $100.00 for a computer diagnosis.
The computer said the the EGR valve (one of many Emissions control devices which bleeding heart liberal sob sisters pressured the automakers to start installing under the pretence of saving the Earth) was bad and the fuel/air mix was lean. That would mean the fuel injectors weren't getting enough fuel, or more air than fuel. That would logically explain the way it was acting.
So, I bought a fuel filter, which should have been easy to replace, but due to my clogging arteries, every time I attempted to get under the car to change it, I would get dizzy and light headed. So, I took it to my local mechanic and asked him if he could install it for me. He said he would do it for $59.00 but "It's not the fuel filter". Then he said he would run tests on the car for $80.00, but I turned him down.
Not only could I not afford eighty dollars just to find out what was wrong, but if he fixed the problem I knew it would cost much more. They are great guys there and are excellent mechanics but the last time I had him do a tune-up, it cost me over $600.00.
So, I returned the fuel filter and spent about $30.00 on a EGR sensor (Valve?) and installed it. It took two days due to the fact that it was difficult to get at, and because I was trying to turn the nut in the wrong direction. (it only took me two days and a broken socket wrench to figure that out) A mechanically-minded friend managed to get it off for me. From there, it was relatively simple to install the new one. Then I started and ran the car to see if that did the trick.
So, I took the car back to AutoZone and ran the computer test again. This time it indicated there was another problem with the air fuel mix, and said "Suspect bad MAF". I asked how much a new MAF sensor was, and was told it costs $121.00.
So, MAF-less, I went back home and started poking around that part of the engine with a screw driver. I took off both ends of the hose that the MAF is on and ran the engine with the hose (and MAF) disconnected. It ran perfect without the MAF sensor! That told me the MAF was definitely the problem.
After researching the internet to find out more about the MAF, (I was actually trying to find someplace that would tell me it's ok to drive without the MAF connected, which I didn't learn) I found I could clean the MAF, and that might actually solve the problem. That would save me a bundle!
Cost for a can of MAF cleaner? $6.49.
Ok, now we're cooking!
But then, it occurred to me that maybe I didn't previously run the car without the MAF long enough, as I had started it at the time, cold, and the car really doesn't start acting up until it has warmed up. So, after driving to AutoZone, the tool store, and Sears in a vain search for a screwdriver bit, I returned home and let the car run while I removed the air intake hose with MAF attached. While I was loosening the screws that hold the hose on, the car died. I finished taking the hose off and then re-started the car. It ran perfect again, and this time, I let it run for about 20 minutes to see if it would die.
It didn't. Then, I was absolutely sure the MAF is the problem.
One small problem however: The MAF is held on by two tiny screws with a star shaped hole in the heads, unlike any screw I had ever seen before. The can of MAF cleaner directions said the removal of them would take a "T20 Torx* security bit". That is a screwdriver bit, made specifically for removal of MAF screws in Fords.
Naturally AutoZone doesn't stock T20 Torx security bits, but they referred me to a tool store down the block, and said they would have one.
They did, but it was one bit in a huge tool kit with about a hundred various types and sizes of screwdriver bits. Cost: $10.00. But I have absolutely no use for all those other bits. I didn't want to spend $10.00 for a fifty-nine cent part, besides, I have only $10.00 until a week from Friday.
I need a bare minimum $16.49 plus tax.
So, the actual repair will have wait a while.
I said all that to say this: I correctly diagnosed the problem using logic and common sense. I am very proud of myself. And I'm not even a mechanic!
But I am sick.