Was driving today when all of a sudden I noticed that my left turn signal was blinking twice as fast as the right. Ahhh, I realized, this isn’t right. I went out and checked the bulbs and sure enough – the front signal bulb was out. So why does it blink twice as fast when a bulb is out? Because the relay (which switches based on a capacitor) gets more juice (because now the bulb isn’t using it), ‘fills’ up faster (2x faster because 1 bulb is now gone) and trips twice as often. Screw out the old bulb and put the new bulb in for about $1 at the local auto parts store and voila! Perfection.
Been a wild ride for the old Altima lately. After 12 years and 150,000 miles, she starting to need some repairs that I’ve been putting off. I’ve got 2 torn CV boots that can only be fixed by replacing the axles. Surprisingly not too expensive and good because you also get CV joints with them (which needed to be replaced like oh… 50,000 miles ago). Minor oil leaks galore but none that really need real fixing (rear main seal costs $300 vs. $1 for a quart of oil every 3 months). I just had to replace the radiator which had cracked at least twice and finally split beyond repair. Only took an hour from start to finish though – so that was easy. I also replaced a water pump recently; though I discovered later that the original was really OK – but now I don’t need to worry about it for years. Tricky part about the water pump was that I need to unbolt and jack the engine up just to get it out. No joke – that’s what the official guide said. And it was true. Took 6 hours. What a pain – they sure don’t design cars like they used to – meaning the average mortal might actually be able to fix it. I also seem to have some strange electrical problem/short going on; but have been unable to isolate it. Had the alternator out and tested at two places which both said it was OK (which is good because a new one wholesale was $170 – which is outrageous for an alternator. Sucker should be made of gold for that price).
But I’ve also discovered the beauty of a brand new source of do-it-yourself parts – the junk yard. There’s a GREAT one in Hillsboro – they have a great parts database and if they don’t have it they can check the inventory of most of the major other yards in the area. I’ve found almost everything that way. Just take some tools into the yard and tear out the part you want, bring it up to the counter and they’ll charge you something insanely cheap. Man is it fun!