Temporary Retreat

Once again I crawled under the car to do battle with the rounded bolt holding the overdrive solenoid to the transmission. I was feeling confident. I had a set of bolt extractor sockets which I felt were up to the task, and, if they failed, some long-nosed locking pliers (aka “vice grip pliers”) that could maybe do the job. The weather was nice and I was in good spirits. This was definitely gonna work and I’d be ready to push on with replacing the broken part and getting my overdrive back in working order.

And again, that’s when the plan always falls apart.

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Minor setbacks

So… the Go2 socket was not as effective as I’d hoped. I don’t fault the tool here for several reasons. First, the bolt it was trying to grip is a flange style bolt (ed: it’s actually a hex bolt with a lock washer that’s slightly wider than the bolt head which has about the same effect). The small lip of the bolt made it difficult for the locking screw to find purchase. Secondly the space between the bolt and the body of the solenoid was just too small for the Go2 socket to turn. Under different circumstances this tool is probably a Godsend, but for me it was not what I needed.

That plan having failed, I proceed to waste another few hours trying as many tricks as I could think of to get that bolt to turn. I used a rotary tool to cut a slot in the top in an attempt to get a short screwdriver on it. That didn’t work. I put a torch on the bolt to see if heat could persuade it. All that did was set the insulation around the solenoid on fire. I even briefly contemplated welding a socket to the bolt. I’ve seen this done before, but I was reluctant to run current through the solenoid as it grounds to the transmission. I didn’t want to accidentally blow something up. Eventually I was forced to stop for the day. A combination of frustration and an aching back from crawling in and out from under the car had bested me.

But all hope is not lost. I have a set of bolt extractors to try, and a set of locking pliers with a long needle nose that maybe might be able to grip that bolt if the extractors fail. If neither of those things work I think I’ll have to execute a tactical retreat by putting a new (anti-seize covered) bolt back in the place I removed the old one from and move on to another task for the time being. Hopefully I’ll just get that damn bolt out and install the new solenoid like I had hoped to have had done weeks ago.

The good news: half way there!

After getting that set of flex head wrenches that I thought would give me the clearance and leverage on the bolts holding the overdrive solenoid, I climbed back under the car to try again. I was eager to get moving on this seemingly simple task of removing two bolts. Just two bolts? How hard could that be? Sure I learned last time that the bolts were in a location that was a bit awkward to access from below, and that the bolts themselves were very greasy and perhaps a little rounded off already. But I was ready for the challenge.

My efforts were initially promising. I got a wrench onto the rearmost bolt, positioned the handle in a way that cleared the transmission housing while still giving me some leverage, cranked on it, and… success! The bolt started moving and was soon removable with just my fingers. Five minuted in and I was already halfway done. Things were looking up! And, of course, that’s when the bottom always falls out.

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Definitely going to need a new exhaust

I try and start my car most mornings if just to keep the engine exercised and the oil circulating. This morning, which was chilly, I noticed something coming from under the car after I started it.

Exhaust vapor is coming from a hole somewhere beneath the passenger compartment. Definitely not right. I couldn’t really see the exact spot from which it emerges, but I have mentioned before the terrible shape of my mid-muffler. That’s the most obvious culprit. I definitely don’t want it to be on or before the catalytic converter.

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A frustrating day

After a Saturday full of dense fog and chill, today looked to be a much better opportunity to do some work on the car. After running to the store to get snacks for the Superb Owl later tonight, I wasted no time in changing into work clothes and getting to it. Next on my list of things to do was the overdrive solenoid. That required jacking the car up so I could get underneath the transmission.

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