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Old 12-17-2007, 01:53 PM   #1
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Default Why Do We Do It?

Now I'll admit, I'm far from the most knowledgeable guy in the world when it comes to cars. I'm not very good when it comes to working on them. No, I didn't install my headers. When my water pump went out, I crawled under my car and looked at the mess of belts and hoses and told myself "I'll just leave it at a shop for a week while I'm at school in Philly." No, I've never known the pleasure of welding two exhaust pipes together.

However, I'm not an idiot, either. I'll never pay someone to do an oil change. The day I pay someone to change a fuel filter or, *gasp*, an air filter, is the day I lose faith in myself. I've already lost faith in humanity as a whole. I refuse to sink to their level by paying someone to do such remedial tasks. However, anytime regular maintenance needs to be performed on my car, I wince in pain deep down inside because I know things are going to be harder than they need to be since I own an F-body.

Last time I was home from school, my grandfather told me my passenger's side fog light was out. I went outside to verify, telling myself my grandfather was just seeing things. Sadly, he wasn't, and it was time to get a new fog light. Normally, a lightbulb change is one of the easiest things you can do...but I own an F-body. I knew there would be some trick to it that I had to figure out first.

Well, I'm finally home on Christmas break, so I went to Advance and got a new fog light bulb. It's one of the coldest days of the year outside - 40+mph winds, 35 degree temperatures. It's downright BITTER. But that didn't stop me - yes, fog lights aren't NECESSARY, but they sure look good and I'll be damned if I'm driving around like some redneck with one fog light knowingly out. I jack up my car - yes, jack up my car to change a light bulb - and crawl under the car, trying to figure out what maze I have to solve in order to find the bulb. Being the male I am, RTFM doesn't mean anything to me, so I just start undoing bolts in the general vicinity of the fog light.

As I sit on a damp rug undoing bolts, the whole time my hands are throbbing from the cold wind, I finally get the trap door open. As I open the trap door, my face is greeted by a barrage of stones and acorns that have deposited there from years of use. After I wipe the dust out of my eyes and spit over and over to get the taste of old dirt out of my mouth, I try and lift my head up enough to try and find where the fog light is.

It's at this point I realize GM's genius. They engineered the trap door in such a way that it's nearly impossible to see in and reach in from underneath the engine bay when using a floor jack. This was clearly engineered for a man with a lift. Well, the day I take my car to a shop to change a fog light bulb...well, you all can fill in that one for me with whatever unflattering sentence you can think of. After a few seconds of shifting my arm to the right angle to get it in the trap door, I finally unplug the wire. Now, how to get out the bulb? Is it a twist? Do I pull? Do I need pliers? After a few minutes of trying to get my hands on it, I finally realize what to do - ah, twist AND THEN pull! The damn bulb was stuck from being in there for years and years without moving.

Now, for putting in the new bulb. Well, let's just say it's a pain in the *** putting a light bulb into a socket when you can't see what you're doing. I basically just twisted and twisted until it locked into place. Once the ordeal was over, I checked my fog lights.

YES! IT WORKS!

So I bolt everything back up, lower the car and put everything away. I'm pleased with myself and pat myself on the back for a job well-done. At this point, I pop my hood to give the paper air filter it's weekly smacks to get some dust out of there. I'm about to shut my hood when what do I notice? A mouse nest half the size of the intake manifold itself nestled tightly between the coils and the fuel rails on the driver's side of the engine bay. My car has been sitting for 3 weeks, unused, because I'm in Philly for college. In that short period, Mr. and Mrs. Mouse think it's a good idea to create a new home

After several minutes of picking the mouse nest out of my otherwise near-showroom condition engine bay, I hose it down gently with a garden hose, then leave the hood up in hopes that the wind dries the water before the thermometer drops below freezing.

I check the time. How in the world did a simple fog light bulb change wind up taking nearly an hour of my afternoon?

So, ladies and gentlemen, as I write this with frozen, cut up hands once covered in mouse droppings, I come to you with one simple question: "Why do we do it?" Why do we choose to drive an F-body? Why do we choose to meticulously maintain our cars? Why do we take pride in what we drive? Why do we spend thousands of dollars on modifications that no one will ever see, yet wear the same 4 shirts and 6 pairs of underwear every week? Why don't we just buy Hondas? With a Honda, you don't have to maintain your engine bay. With a Honda, you can take your car to get basic maintenance at the dealership and not catch any flack for it. With a Honda, it takes 10 minutes to change the spark plugs. When I see an Accord motor, I want to change the plugs simply because they're RIGHT THERE. When I see mine, I dread the day I have to perform my first plug swap.

So, once again, why do we make it harder on ourselves than it needs to be?

For me, the answer is simple: I love my car. I feel my car is a reflection of myself, and if I don't maintain my car, it's as if I don't maintain myself. I never want to be like my parents, complaining every time I have to drive somewhere. I love driving. I love the fact that even as gas prices climb, I don't love driving a little less. I love being one with my car. From the old men giving me thumbs up to the old men shaking their firsts, I'll love my car through the good times and the bad times.

Ladies and gentlemen, how about you?
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:03 PM   #2
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I completely agree with you. I too love my car and I try to keep it in tip top shape. And like you I do everything myself when it comes to modifying my vehicle or simply just doing preventative maintenance. But when it comes time to do a fuel pump I may just end up taking it somewhere. I know someone who owns their own shop and they have told me in order to change the fuel pump on our cars it is necessary to completely remove the rear end in order to drop the fuel tank out. Now I do not have experience in changing a fuel pump on these cars, so all I have to go on is this piece of information. However there is an alternative to doing this, but it requires cutting a hole in the rear deck right behind the seat. Once this is done you have a perfectly clear path to removing just the pump and nothing else. Not sure if I want to do that either. And like you I will be completly enjoying my car through the good and bad.
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:07 PM   #3
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Dude you have alot of time on your hands.

I drive mine bc i like the body style and you dont see them everywhere. Also bc it can still hold its own on the street. If i need to pass somebody my lil honda wont do it unless i get a running start. With my TA just a quick blip of the throttle and im passed them and safely back in my lane before the oncoming car knows what happened.
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:35 PM   #4
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your fuel pump is intank and a PITA, so if you didnt like changing the fog light bulb, ur gonna wanna take it in somewhere

and the reason u bought an fbody is bc u are smart, and didnt jump on the mustang bandwagon
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:37 PM   #5
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Dude you have alot of time on your hands.

I drive mine bc i like the body style and you dont see them everywhere. Also bc it can still hold its own on the street. If i need to pass somebody my lil honda wont do it unless i get a running start. With my TA just a quick blip of the throttle and im passed them and safely back in my lane before the oncoming car knows what happened.
Once you have a whole engine in it again that is...

Seriously. I have to admit that these cars can be a massive pain sometimes, but they're worth it. I just wish I had something else to drive daily so that the SS could have more than an hour of down time. I have a list of things that need done to it, but partly because of my schedule, and partly because of the design sacrifices made in order for the f-body to be so awesome, I can't complete any one of the needed tasks in just one day.

These definitely are great cars to take pride in though Choco. I drive my SS because no matter how many plastic scoops and chrome trim peices the local ricers put on their car to try and build a nice racing vehicle, they can't even come close to a well maintained f-body.

Now if I just had some time to wash it.
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:42 PM   #6
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Love takes hard work, and well, i love my car. I also seriously love the family that comes with the car, the ls1tech family that is. I love how there are sites dedicated to helping me change my brake pads and rotors, and to help me choose which brand. Haha, i simply love it....I wouldn't give my car up for anything, though when i spend three hundred dollars a month on gas, my eyes wink, but i know it will be fine. The performance of the car, the sound i hear when the radio is off, it's just beautiful...

O ya by the way, i'm gonna change my spark plugs next month...
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:50 PM   #7
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Why do we do it? I don't know about you guys but it's the price I pay for driving one of the greatest muscle cars of all time. I don't enjoy the complexities or hassles that come with working on GM's designs, but any newer car is like that. The Infinit G35 for example, requires you to remove the intake manifold and ALL OF THAT OTHER STUFF just to change some of the spark plugs; I think we F body guys have it that much easier.

I'll have to disagree with the oil change idea though. For $20 I can have it done in a 1/2 hour, no muss, no fuss-outa' there in no time. You do it yourself you gotta' buy the oil, filter, etc, which equals more than the quickie-oil change anyway. After that, you have to haul that dirty oil to somewhere and HOPE that they have room to accept your dirty oil. If they don't, then happy motoring to you and your dirty oil as you drive all over town. Before you know it, you've wasted the better part of 1/2 a day or so.

I'll do spark plugs, water pumps, etc, but I won't waste my time on a piddly oil change-I'll let the lube-monkeys at the dealership handle that...
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:03 PM   #8
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Choco's last paragraph sums it up perfectly
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:05 PM   #9
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That was quite the novel about changing a light bulb! I think that the key is to have a beater as a DD; That way you can keep the f-body looking good in the garage and actually work on it at your convenience. My car would be alot more rough around the edges if it were my only year-around car.

I understand that Chaco and others are in college and prob. can't afford two rides right now. Think of it as motivation to finish school so that soon you can have a DD car and a nice warm garage to work on the F-body. I remember all of those years when I had to work on my cars outside, and I certainly don't miss them at all. I am still a car nut and love to maintain my rides, but having several cars and a garage keeps the upkeep on the T/A down to a reasonable level.

Maybe I will change my oil tonight in the driveway for old times sake...
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:22 PM   #10
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i do it b/c i love these cars
ive owned a used car lot full of f bodies ( 13 )
ive loved them all, even the 2 v6 3rd gens i had, even my slow *** 79 z28 was just the coolest car ever to me at the time. they really are great cars even when your cursing them when things go wrong or being a PITA. later when its all finished and your back on the road things dont seeem so bad anymore. i bet when you drive now w. the foglights workin it was worth the ordeal, especially since you got the mice out! they could have done some damage. so it was a good thing the foglight went out in a way.

as far as oil changes go, yea pay em 23 -25$ seems good at the time.
just DIY for god sake, i know im going to have my car for awhile, it aint going nowhere. so i buy bulk oil and filters. i have a big drum to keep it in and a jiffy lube down the street i can dump it at i give the guy 5 bux each time. ( in 6 years only had to dump it 3 times so not to bad.) and thats mine, my brothers and all 4 of my dads cars.
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:35 PM   #11
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I don't think every other car made is extremely easy to work on compared to an f-body. I did my cam/valvetrain/oil pump a few weeks ago, can't imagine doing that with a ohc 32v motor. I've changed that bulb 6 times on mine (someone keeps exploding my bulbs!) and I've done it from the bottom, it's pretty simple. You can go from the top too, just remove the headlight (1 bolt IIRC). I think everyone car has some really dumb things you have to do just for some simple stuff, last time I stopped at my dad's house he was just starring at his engine bay trying to figure out WHERE THE PLUGS WERE, it was rather comical.
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:56 PM   #12
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I am fortunate to be older member, which means no more frozen extremities or gravel indentations while working on my cars. But those trying times made me a better person and strive for multiple vehicles and a warm dry place to work on them.

The F-body is my"quality time" vehicle from which I derive great pleasure tinkering with it at my pleasure.
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:01 PM   #13
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i don't care what it is,honda,ford,tina,lucy,etc.etc,etc,etc
if it's got **** or tires it's gonna cause you some grief.
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:09 PM   #14
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Honestly all my car is something to keep my mind off of certain things.
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:43 PM   #15
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First, you could have just turned off the driving lights until a warmer day.

Hey don't hold it against the car that you refuse to check the manual before replacing something without gloves in winter weather...and you think mice don't build nests in camry's? Also, I'm thinking you could change four of your plugs about as quick as four plugs in a honda...

I'm regularly working on my dakota out in the freezing, it's not like an f-body is the only car that uses bulbs, oil, whatever...and even the drivetrain etc...if you only used the first 170hp of your car kind of like a honda uses, things would last as long as the honda, or close anyway.

Get a repair manual, some mouse traps, a car cover for when the car sits, and some mechanics gloves. By the way, instead of the trap door to get at the bulbs, a few screws and those entire panels come down out of the way right? I remember the first bulb I changed wasn't easy, but that's because I didn't know how to do it yet.

Don't mean to get on you that bad, but what a bunch of whining from a guy that wants to drive a muscle car lol. I'll put my knuckles to a cheese grater in icewater if five minutes later I can go sideways in second and chirp third
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
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First, you could have just turned off the driving lights until a warmer day.
It's the middle of December. It's only going to get colder.

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Hey don't hold it against the car that you refuse to check the manual
I did look at the manual and didn't see anything, so I gave up and dug in.

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before replacing something without gloves in winter weather
I did have gloves. Hands still froze.

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...and you think mice don't build nests in camry's? Also, I'm thinking you could change four of your plugs about as quick as four plugs in a honda...
You've never seen a DOHC engine with top-mounted spark plugs, eh?

Car covers won't help anything when mice crawl in from UNDER the car.

I don't think you understood the humor in my post.
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:00 PM   #17
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... or gravel indentations while working on my cars.
Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention a big piece of scrap cardboard maybe even folded three layers thick makes a great creaper. I use that all the time. Oh another thing I do and highly recommend, is I but those $5 leather dress gloves at ocean state job lot to use as mechanics gloves, when they get too oily, throw them out. I also use the heavy duty mr clean disposable rubber gloves most of the time even under the leather ones. They can be reused many times, and keep your hands spotless, like if you have to go in the house or something, pull them off and put them back on when you get back out. Oh, and wear longjohns and a hoodie to work on your car in the cold for fbody's sake, you'll find yourself sweating and have to unzip, it's not bad at all, unless of course its real windy or raining.
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:03 PM   #18
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well, you did say how about you...so I told you ;-)
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:17 PM   #19
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I don't think my Trans Am is that hard to work on. I've changed at least one of every bulb on it by now. My old Honda was more of a pita to change the headlight on. I enjoy getting my hands dirty with it.
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:28 PM   #20
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For me, the answer is simple: I love my car. I feel my car is a reflection of myself, and if I don't maintain my car, it's as if I don't maintain myself. I never want to be like my parents, complaining every time I have to drive somewhere. I love driving. I love the fact that even as gas prices climb, I don't love driving a little less. I love being one with my car. From the old men giving me thumbs up to the old men shaking their firsts, I'll love my car through the good times and the bad times.
You sir, are a poet. I couldn't have said it better myself. All those hours of meticulously cleaning my car and keeping it in perfect mechanical condition are all worth it when you roll into the gas station and get complements on your ride from complete strangers.
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:28 PM
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