The learning curve...

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Aug 30, 2004
Today, I began a series of repairs to the ’96 Saturn SL2 Auto w/94,500 miles. Initially, I had planned to replace the upper engine mount with the updated genuine Saturn part I bought from Well, upon removing the old mount, which was clearly destroyed (three hole metal portion was falling off), it became evident that I needed the longer studs. Granted, this was the original first design mount with 94,500 miles on it, and I didn’t think that I’d need the new the studs. Guess not, I’ll have to make a run to the stealership. Then, I proceeded to replacing the automatic transaxle fluid. Removed the 15 mm bolt, fluid drained, no problem. But I was working under the car with jack stands, and given the angle (car right next to me on the lift in the shop, I couldn’t catch the drain plug before it hit the container. Thank goodness magnetic wands exist. Next, I followed the manual’s instructions to the letter and proceeded to remove the air filter and air box. Big mistake. Upon removing the three exceptionally difficult to access screws, the air box was not removable without the removal of the upper radiator hose. Forget it. No way. Took me another 15 minutes to get the air box back in. All in all, I wasted 30 minutes fussing with the air box. Autozone’s instructions were better. Instead, I removed the lower splash guard. I really despised those plastic fasteners. Removing the fasteners, since the shop had the special tool, was cake. But reinstalling them were a hassle. One of them just wouldn’t go back in. I ended up rotating the different fasteners around with the other four pieces until I finally got them in, with the aid of another person. Wasted 30 minutes trying to reinstall that splash shield. Also, thank goodness for a prior warning by caring members regarding the wires that were close to the filter. Without looking, I began pulling on them gently for about a second or two until I realized that they were actual wires and not a stuck o-ring. I was nearly on the verge of disaster. New filter on, great. Cleaned up area as best I could. Now comes refilling the unit. The humongous funnel with a 2+ ft long hose attachment the shop had seemed like a great idea. Well, not, if you’re a noob like me. Poured about a ½ quart in there, and the funnel didn’t seem to be filled up that high. Well, then comes a gigantic air bubble, and fluid flies out of the top of the funnel, all over my intake ductwork and the exhaust manifold. Oh well. For the record, I use ended up using a hair over 5 quarts of SuperTech Dexron IIIH fluid in the unit with a genuine Saturn transmission filter. I thought only four quarts would drain out, but letting the unit drain for about an hour and a half after sitting for over an hour helped a bit, I’m sure. So I’d guesstimate that the refill took about 4.75 quarts as I probably spilled a good amount with those funnel “accidents.” How long did this entire process take? From the time I got the car into the shop, to the time I got in the car to go home, was about 2 ½ hours. Then again, I was working in an unfamiliar shop (not knowing where all the tools are, and having to share) plus I was doing it on jack stands as I was too lazy to put it on the rack. I guess I didn’t do too hideously time wise considering that this is only the fourth time that I’ve ever worked on a car. Just some Monday night reading for everyone.
I'm glad to hear that your doing the work yourself. And dont worry about all the little mishaps, With time it will come with ease. And there is nothing more rewarding than maintaining your own vehicle to perfection and know that it's done right the first time.
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