Tim - your story reminds me of the Ford Probe GT (V6) I had in the 90's. My water pump went bad, so i brought it over to our local neighborhood mechanic who said he would fix it for $200 + parts. Little did he realize how tighly the engine was jammed into that car and what was involved to get at the failed water pump. I definitely got my money's worth from that $200.
BTW - I also had to change the heater core on the same car. Its not easy being 6'4" 265# and working under the dash.....
I'm a GM f-body fan (Camaros and Firebirds) and the inside joke among many owners (especially second gen f-bodies), is that GM starts with the heater core and then builds the entire car around that device. :)
The only heater core that I had to change was a mid-1980's RWD Chrysler, and it wasn't too bad of a job.
This problem of disassembly must run rampant in later Olds products. I had a 94 or 95 Achieva that started leaking at the water pump at 56K miles. To replace the pump, it was nescessary to pull the engine to gain access to one of the mounting bolts. My solution was to buy a new car instead of paying the $5000 for the repair.
The photo says it all. I had a 1996 Olds Cutlass Ciera that was similar. One night, a thief had a problem with my Cutlass when he tried to steal my airbag. When I came out in the morning, the floor of my car looked like the photo in this article. I often wondered why he chose an Olds Cutlass, and how much time he must have spent getting the airbag free. He probably would have been better off choosing a different model. Maybe he learned from the experience.
CLMcDade, your story would make a good Made by Monkeys posting. You may want to send it in. You would need to include enugh detail to get it up to about 350 words. You can send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This example of difficulty of dis-assembly is of no surprise here. GM, Honda, Toyota, Chrysler, Ford, and few other comparable imports are notorious for making their vehicles extremely easy to assemble but extremely difficult to dis-assemble.
I normally talk up Honda, Toyota, etc. since I do like the quality of their vehicles but when it comes to servicablity on them they are sometimes almost as bad as GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
There only a few companies that I have heard of which keep servicablity in mind when designing vehicles. Volkswagen is one of them they have a consistant record of keeping servicablity in mind at all stages of the design process. I wouldn't say they are perfect but they are significantly better at it than many of the other vehicle manufacturers.
I feel your pain. I had an `86 Mustang that developed a leak in the heater core. The drawings weren't clear on what side of the firewall the core was on, but the core was darn cheap. I picked up the core and found that I would have to remove the dash and evacuate the AC. I gave it a try and gave up, instead I started pouring Stop Leak in every six months or so when the coolant level fell. I still got a 1/4 million miles on that Pinto engine before I gave it to my nephew.
I always worry with a job that big on something old. How many decrepit parts are in there just waiting to snap apart, disintegrate, or self destruct in the effort to get to the core? And what about that pile of nuts and bolts left over when you think your done? Were they really that important?
A friend has an old Mustang that had the same problem. His solution? Cap off the core. Sure, it's cold in the winter, but his fix took just 10 minutes and zero risk.
This problem has gotten worse because of all the "stuff" that needs to be crammed into the engine compartment. I remember stopping in Pep Boys to pick up a battery for a forner girlfriend's Sebring. We went in, purchased the battery and the clerk asked if we were going to pull the car into the service bay for installation.
I laughed and said no, as I figured I'd be done in a flash. Well, I opened the hood and, puzzled, I didn't see the battery - anywhere! I looked all over and finally went back inside. The clerks were laughing - they had a bet on how long it would take me to come back in.
Turned out that one had to remove the front left tire to change the battery.
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