As someone who’s only ever changed oil or tires, I’m proud to say I finally fixed my car! It’s a 98 CRV that had been in a front end collision when I got it, enough to bend the frame and radiator. I bought it for 500 bucks and bought one more parts car for 500 a year and a half ago. My stepdad helped me strip the front end, pull the damage out of the frame with a cable come-along, and we replaced the radiator, bumper, headlight and hood from the parts car.
It’s had several other anomalies with losing oil and transmission fluid at certain points and I thought the engine was pretty well fucked for the last year. I’ve been driving like a grandma the whole time barely limping myself around. I thought it had permanent transmission problems.
Recently it started losing coolant fast, like a tank a day. I traced the leak to the lower radiator hose, which connects to the thermostat at the bottom back side of the engine. Apparently a stuck thermostat is often the culprit when your engine is overheating, and the gasket around the thermostat was in shambles, explaining how I lost so much water.
I got tired of waiting for more help from stepdad so I just dived into this engine that I know nothing about, and carefully began detatching the air intake hose and unplugging cables so I could reach the god awful place they hid this thermostat down in (Pics don’t do it justice, but they’re attached). Zero room to move a wrench down there so it was a bitch to get the clamp off the radiator hose, move the hose, and loosen the two long bolts holding the thermostat housing. Took me two halfdays of work just to get to the fully disassembled stage and replace the part. Then another 2 or 3 hours to get it back together.
My stepdad did come by the next day to double check my work. Only couple mistakes I made as a layman was tightening the throttle too much, easy fix, and I dropped a couple tools down the air filter box so they’re currently trapped somewhere in the intake line near the bumper cover. But they can’t get back up through the filter to hurt anything important, no biggie. I fired the engine up and ran to the store, thermostat is opening properly now and the transmission doesn’t stick on gears anymore now that it’s not overheating (the computer probably put it in limp home or cold mode to deal with thicker oil from what I gather.) I can floor it and she accelerates just fine, and my gas mileage is about to go way the hell up, woohoo!
It feels so weird having an engine that fully works again! At 267K miles this thing drives like new! They sure didn’t make that part easy to work on, but you can’t keep a good Honda down.
I also had one great idea that the mechanics I know had never heard of but were impressed by: when putting the bolts back into the thermostat housing, in that god awful tight space where you can’t move a wrench: I got the bolts started with my fingers, and then I wrapped a loooooong flag of electrical tape around my socket. I wound it up like a yoyo, positioned the wrench on the bolt, and then pulled the tape like a ripcord to get the bulk of the bolt threaded back into place without having to move the wrench until it was tight enough to stick. That made it soooooo much easier! Pass this trick along if you know someone in a tight spot.