So my dad doesn't approve all repairs...

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Aug 30, 2004
He won't approve the AC, coolant temp sensor, etc unless it completely failed. Oh well. At least he approved the most important items.

Here's my quick little proposal to him, please give me feedback:


Items needing service/replacement:

1) Valve Cover Gasket and Spark Plug Tube Seals

Reason: Oil leakage due to failed spark plug tube seal on cylinder #1. Valve cover gasket kit includes spark plug tube seals, and the entire valve cover must be removed to replace the spark plug tube seals.

Parts Required: Genuine Saturn Valve Cover Gasket kit from, for 96+ Saturn 1.9L DOHC with Composite Cover

Cost: $18.24

2) Spark Plugs

Reason: Part of 90k service, also because spark plugs must be removed prior to removing the valve cover.

Parts Required: (4) OE NGK #5643 Copper Spark Plugs, Standard Plug #BKR5ESA11

Cost: $1.70/each, $6.80 total

3) Spark Plug Wires

Reason: Deterioration of "boot" for cylinder #1 due to oil contamination, also because wires should be replaced around 100k miles due to wear.

Parts Required: ACDelco Spark Plug Wire Set for Saturn 1.9L DOHC, Part #744Q

Cost: $23.79

4) PCV Valve

Reason: PCV Valve must be removed prior to removing the valve cover. Blow-by buildup causes valve to be sticky. Cost is minimal to replace.

Parts Required: Genuine Saturn PCV Valve from for 96+ Saturn 1.9L DOHC, Dorman #42341 PCV Valve Groomet from

Cost: $2.25 for PCV Valve, $1.99 for PCV Valve Groomet

5) Torque Axis Mount, a.k.a. "Upper Motor Mount"

Reason: Constant vibration at idle signals a failed Torque Axis Mount, an extremely common problem with all Saturn S-Series. Consequences of failing to replace the mount include damaging the other three mounts, and excessive vibration may loosen some parts.

Parts Required: Genuine Saturn "Torque Axis Mount" from

Cost: $49.50

6) Clean EGR valve and throttle body

Reason: Overtime, carbon buildup in the EGR valve will affect performance and emissions. Throttle Body Cleaning will improve driveability.

Parts Required: Carb Cleaner from Walmart, Fel-Pro Throttle Body Gasket #61177 from, Fel-Pro EGR Valve Gasket #70789 from

Cost: $1.21 for EGR Valve Gasket, $3 for Carb Cleaner, $1.61 Throttle Body Gasket

7) Flush and bleed Brake Fluid

Reason: Brake fluid is hydroscopic. Moisture will negatively affect expensive brake components, deteriorate pedal "feel," and lower the boiling point of the fluid, thus increasing one's danger of fluid boiling after repeated, high load stops.

Parts Required: 1 quart of Prestone DOT3 Brake Fluid from Walmart

Cost: $4.00

8) Replace Power Steering Fluid

Reason: Power Steering fluid needs to be replaced periodically due to depleted anti-squeal additives and friction modifiers. Replacing most of the power steering fluid will allow for "smoother steering." Extracting the contents of the reservoir with a turkey baster on a bi-weekly basis until several quarts of fluid is used is an extremely simple and cost-effective method of replacing most of the power steering fluid.

Parts Required: Turkey Baster, three quarts of SuperTech Power Steering Fluid

Cost: $5 for Turkey Baster, $2/quart ($6 total) for Power Steering Fluid

9) Replace Automatic Transmission Fluid and "Spin-On" external Filter

Reason: Required as part of 90k service.

Parts Required: Dexron-III(H) Automatic Transmission Fluid (already at home); FRAM P6646 Automatic Transmission Filter from RockAuto.

Cost: $5.85, though purchasing two may be a good idea due to exceptionally low price.

10) Replace Engine Air Filter

Reason: Required as part of 90k service.

Parts Required: Pro-TEC #331 Air Filter from

Cost: $7.00

11) Replace In-Line Fuel Filter

Reason: Required as part of 90k service.

Parts Required: Wix 33575 In-Line Fuel Filter from

Cost: $19.27

12) Replace Engine Oil And Filter

Reason: Oil already has > 3500 miles, plus the oil may be contaminated by any dust when the valve cover is removed.

(Parts are in-stock at home)

13) Inspect Brakes

Reason: Part of 90k service, wheels must be removed to bleed brake system already, plus there appears to be a rubbing noise while driving.


Subtotal: $73.37

Less 5% Discount Code (483468362798)= $3.67

Shipping: $23.20

Total: $92.90

Subtotal: $69.99

Estimated Shipping: $15.00

Estimated Total: $84.99

Estimated Final Cost of proposed repairs: $177.89

You really should have pushed him to approve the coolant temp sensor. You'll lose a lot of fuel economy without it working properly.
The coolant temp sensor is a known weak point on these cars due to the plastic tip; the updated part is now of a brass tip. It’s only $10 too. I can’t prove that it is cracked as coolant temperature and MPG are fine, but I’ll probably have to take it out to prove it before he’ll authorize repairs. At the same time, I’d like him to OK replacing the radiator cap and thermostat too, but oh well. I’ll get these done first and push those later. I feel like a crook trying to “sell” my dad these services.

But the cylinder is full of oil, at least #1 is. Plugs have about 5k left on them 'till they're officially due.
If I were your daddy, I'd have to give you a spanking for changing the oil so early. And is the upper motor mount completely shot yet?
You should get a job and get your own car, because you deserve it.
Its his money, but scrutinizing every last dime is the reason why the majority of cars in this country are in various stages of disrepair... very few are kept like new when they have over 50k miles on them. Not good out of principle, and then as things do degrade to a severe level, you don't have to wonder why.

Figure out the price delta of doing it vs. not, and then list the potential cost of failure or associated lack of repair in the short-term. Justify and show the dire consequences. Heck, if my coolant temp sensor was on the fritz, and something ever happened like, say a leak develloped, I mightnot know until its too late. If an A/C system isnt kept up and USED, the seals and whatnot will degrade and then the whole system will need to be rebuilt in order to have a working system.

Changing the brake fluid will do nothing to renew the old rubber parts in the calipers. Rather than waste time and money on it now, rebuild/replace the calipers at the next pad change. That results in losing almost all the old fluid. It is also the only way to get rid of all the crud that accumulates.

Good project, change the fluid now, and rebuild the calipers yourself later and see what a poor job changing the fluid did cleaning them out. Of course, many here would say if only the fluid had been changed often enough, the parts not touched by it would still be in perfect shape.
"PCV Valve Groomet"

I think your Dad should of kicked your *** for misspelling grommet. Mine would have. And look how I turned out. Oh yeah, sorry, never mind.

(PS He should approve the temp sensor needs replacing, tell him it really affects the MPG. Also, I think you have a sticky caliper and a slightly potato chipped rotor - as labman suggests this needs work or a pro)
Michael, you just have to come clean with your dad. Thank him for the frugal upbringing that has allowed such quality of life without excess in spending. That has allowed you comfort without having to contribute dime one to anything ..and allows your parasitic existance to thrive in a low yield environment. Tell him that his lessons have sunk in so deep that you want to protect the investment in basic transportation ..long after any market value will be left in the current family truckster. In that way, you can continue to avoid meanial employment to fund your distrations and bypass that inconvienient part of life that would have most teenagers in your neighborhood cringing in fear. This will allow you a car, free of charge, since it won't be worth anything anyway by the time he decides to pay cash for the next new vehicle.

You've got to be both candid ( but diplomatic) while being practical at the same time. He'll admire your shrewd, albeit somewhat antisocial, view on it and probably fork out the cash with pride in a job well done in raising you.

Vehicles are pretty simple in this respect....a little $ now, OR more $$$ later when the $ part fails and takes some $$$ parts with it. Preventive maintenance is called preventive for a reason. It often times prevents future disasters.
That's what kills me!!! People are so frugal with respect to repairing their vehicles that in the long run, it ends up costing them more because of the fact they neglected all those simple little repairs that were needed. It's just stupid! All my brother-in-laws are like this, then after a few years have passed, they are all standing there scratching their heads in disbelief as to why their repair bill cost them so much. I just want to back-hand them so bad sometimes? They need it.
Hey, pal wife has no idea of the tremendous savings that I afford the family war chest by handling all this stuff. No one realizes a savings ..but they sure do regret a big bill. Gone are the days of the $200 visit to the shop. That does't even cover 3 hours of labor these days.
This isn't a final copy as it has some errors on it, but thanks for the heads up.

Still deciding whether or not the TB/EGR cleanings are worth it...
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