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Oil leak - the end game?

Swung by the mechanic on Tuesday evening. He denied putting too much oil in, but then he would. That's not a surprise. What was a surprise was that he doesn't know how much he actually put in. Funny, I was billed €13. Unless there's just a big drum of "gearbox oil" and flat rates for, like "big gearbox, little gearbox"?
An even bigger surprise was how he filled it.

Look, here's a diagram (sorry for the size, it is auto-scaled to 680px width):

This isn't exactly the same as mine. You see that connection on the right that looks like a handle? It's where the gear lever connects for selecting forwards or backwards. Anyway, on my box the check bolt is just below it. I suspect that it was moved to the side (as indicated here) in order that one might be able to check the level by reaching under or using a long extension. For my box, you pretty much have to raise the entire car up and get underneath to check.
Anyway, the diagram is painfully obvious. There are three bolts. One on the bottom for draining. One on the side for checking the oil level. And finally one on top for filling the thing. Only up to the level, not all the way.

The mechanic, in a flash of brilliance, somehow managed to fill it up through the check hole. What? How? It makes my head hurt.

Anyway, he crawled underneath and checked and said there was barely any oil, only a couple of drops. This ties in with what I have observed keeping newspaper under the car.
Alternatively, given the odd place the oil seemed to be dripping from, maybe his "fill it up here" trick put oil in all sorts of other places too? Duh.

I still don't exactly know how the hell I'm going to clean up the mess underneath. Perhaps washing up liquid and an old mop? Or maybe figure there are more important issues, and just not bother...?

 

There's a rumble

Well, not so much a rumble as a crunch noise that happens when I drive over an uneven surface (which is most of the roads around here). It is quite horrific in reverse.

To my mind, this is either the wheel bearings wearing out, or something with the brakes.

I'll have to get the mechanic to take a look (again!) because it appears as if the brake assembly is somewhat loose on the left. The car does stop when it needs to, so I wonder if this is just an age thing and what used to be a tolerance of 'X' is now a tolerance of 'X plus 23 years'?
I could get the crunchy/rumbly noise to happen just pushing the car (easy way to rule out reverse gear failing, it was in neutral!).
Pushing the car after fiddling with the brake unit (gently shaking it) made the noise go away until things shifted again.

What I would also want checked are the wheel bearings. Having them wear out is a bigger issue. Perhaps it might be worthwhile seeing how long he estimates it'll take to change, and just ordering the parts? If it's a hundred euros (two parts plus an hour labour) then it might be worth it for peace of mind of not having a bigger problem down the line?

 

Of course, none of this is a great surprise really. It's an ancient car, a used-car-salesman (in the pejorative sense of the phrase), and it's probably fairly par-for-the-course to need to change bits in this situation. I still have the tyres to do, but since I'm not really going anywhere other than work, I'll concentrate on the mechanical stuff first.

 

I am reminded of our old MG Metro (mom's car when I was a teenager). It had either a cracked sump or a broken seal, and it leaked oil. To the extent that we'd put a tray under it at night. We called that it's nappy. And, yup, daily oil checks and top-ups. There was a sort of suction valve thing just under the bonnet. Not sure what it did, but when the car refused to start, hitting that thing really hard with the business end of a solid metal crook lock made it able to start.
Later on, when I first started work, our little Renault 5 had so many appointments at a local garage (same town, different place, since retired) that it was a standing joke that I'd just give the guy a hundred euros out of each salary.
So, with the absolutely brilliant Citröen C1, that never needed bits fixed (and is over 100k, maybe closer 120k?) and passed her roadworthiness test at the age of seven with nothing needing fixed (the mechanic said "it's a Citröen, just put it through, it'll be okay" and it was). With that car, I'd forgotten what a pain (and expense) cars can be.
I started the Citröen earlier this evening. Sitting idle, chocked up, started maybe once every 2-3 weeks. It starts without a problem, and just purrs. I kind of wish I could drive it, I like that car. Mom named her Isabelle.

 

BANG!

No, I didn't crash. Different topic now. ☺

The farmers have just sown the maize, which means they have brought out the air cannon things that are supposed to scare the crows, but don't as the average French crow is smarter than the average French agriculteur/exploitant/whatever. Idiot neighbour left his one running all night last night. I thought that was against the law? It also fires every two minutes (more or less) because clearly the farmer who failed science class (a callback to the flood) was never taught that the very birds that he wants to scare will simply become accustomed to the regular bangs. I mean, they'll poop themselves in fright and take to the sky the first dozen times, but soon they'll figure out that it is just a weird new noise and nothing to get in the way of an easy meal.

Yup. Just walked over to the east side to look across the field. I can see numerous crows, and something grey (seagull?) pecking corn seeds off the field. Cannon fired, and not a feather was ruffled.
Told you. The average French crow is smarter than the average French farmer.

 

Viral precautions

Got told off in the supermarket yesterday. A French woman I know and I were talking. I was behind my trolley, she was behind hers. She was wearing a rather cute home-made mask. I was wearing nothing as I feel that masks are mostly a placebo to convince people that they're making some sort of effort. Besides, masks don't cover the eyes and the eyes are where many viri enter the body - because people rub their eyes all the time. They don't tend to pick their nose as much. At least, not in public...

Anyway, two shopping trolleys. Probably a metre and a half. This security twit comes over and says "separate, you're too close". We both looked at him. "Move! You're supposed to be a metre apart."
"Do you know how far a metre is?", I ask. I do. Pretty much precisely. Floor to belly button is a metre. It used to be a useful measure when mom would ask for two metres of string or the like.
"MOVE. NOW." - punctuated for extra emphasis.
So we both moved apart a little bit.
"And stay like that", he said, before walking away to torment other hapless shoppers.

We both looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and failed to keep our serious faces.

 

Shopping done, car loaded up, trolley put away, and hands doused in gel, I started to fiddle around to find my bank card to top up the fuel in Felicity. Didn't really need to, I was on half, but I don't plan on shopping again until next Wednesday.
I was distracted by a woman at a car opposite. She was wearing a big mask with a vent, like the ones you wear when sanding floors. Probably exactly where the mask came from too. She also had fairly decent looking transparent gloves (PVC). She took out her keys, opened the car (push button), opened the bonnet, and stuffed the keys into her pocket. She then transferred her shopping to the boot, closed it, and took her trolley back.
On the return to her car she rubbed her left eyebrow twice.
She took her keys and started the car. She got in, put on the seat belt, and pushed the sun visor up.
Then, as the car was idling, she carefully removed one glove, then the other. Folded them. Put them into her handbag. Then she drove away.

No, I did not see her use any gel on her hands.
Yes, she touched pretty much everything with those gloves.
And yes, she put them in her handbag to ensure that any viral contamination that might be there will be ready and waiting for her the next time she goes to her handbag.
And did you catch the part where she was less than a centimetre from her eye whilst wearing the gloves?

The problem is that people simply don't understand what a virus is. I mean, if you're cleaning a baby or young child and you get crap on your hands (yes, literal crap), then there's a brown smear and a rather unmistakable smell. You can see it, you can smell it, you can wash your hands like mad until either they fall off or the poop is all gone. Which depends upon the product you use to wash with. I do not recommend industrial alcaline detergents...

Now imagine that poop is invisible and has no smell. It's tiny, so small you can't see it even with a typical school quality microscope. You could have poop all over your hands and not even know it. And depending on the material of the surfaces you touch, this invisible unsmellable poop could remain active for anything from several hours to several days.
That's what a virus is.

So wash your damned hands. FREQUENTLY.

 

Buddy

I planted a few seeds last Saturday. Marmande tomato, basil, sunflower, and a "bees like this" mixture. Of the tomatoes and basil, something is coming up quite energetically (I suspect the tomato) and something a little less so. My bee flower mix has something with big leaves, and some things that look like grass.
But the winners are the sunflowers. I don't recall how many I planted, but five burst up, threw off their seed cases, and are looking to reach the sky by this time next month.

 

 

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Pieter, 17th April 2020, 04:43
I hope the rumble gets sorted out soon. Are you going to let the same mechanics who couldn't properly fill up the oil check your brakes and wheel bearings? 
 
Incidentally, your story reminds me of Robert Pirsig's experience with poor mechanics versus quality in good old Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, page 10 or so. I hope your car is in good hands.
Rob, 18th April 2020, 01:47
There was a picture that flew past in my Twitter timeline the other day. Bloke whom had obviously got a text, phone in one gloved hand, the other hand tapping away. That hand's glove held in his mouth... 
 
The problem with gloves is that people forget they are just a barrier layer. They don't magically make the germs vanish..
David Pilling, 18th April 2020, 02:11
Used to be worth getting the Haynes manuals for cars. Often too complicated to do many tasks, but useful info. 
As to masks, gloves, you need a protocol for using them. Took me a while to work out I should use the sanitiser on the gloves at some point - obviously only going to use the gloves once. 
Once saw a course on the TV, cover people's hands in gunk, tell them to wash it off - lot harder than they imagine. Now do that when you can't see it. 
 
J.G.Harston, 24th April 2020, 23:24
The first time I topped up the oil when the red light came on in my car after I passed my driving test (ten years ago), I checked the manual, and it said "4 litres". So, of course, I put 4 litres of oil in.

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