Feeling Rather Electrically and Automotively Competent

Today was the first really nice day we’ve had in a while and it was time to tackle two troubleshoots that have been keeping me up at night.

The first was in regards to my battery bank. I thought it was working fine, but I missed one not-so-minor test when I set up everything and I discovered this during a power outage the other day. We lost shore power and I lost all power. Uh, what?! My first thought was that the battery disconnect was still on, but nope. So I went into the compartment, traced the wiring, and, I-can’t-believe-I-did-that, I had missed a wire! And to add insult to injury, I didn’t have enough space left on the fuse bolt for this wire!

I was going to do like a couple of other folks and run a cable from the fuse to a longer conductive bolt, but something told me to consult my mother. She informed me that you can buy bolt extenders, which are essentially long nuts (imagine 10 or so nuts stacked on top of each other as a solid piece). So I made arrangements to borrow my mother’s car to go buy the the right size extender for the fuse bolt.

The extender screws onto the existing bolt and then you screw a new, longer, bolt into the extender. I got a bolt with a head, so I inserted the new bolt into the lugs for all my positive wires, screwed the extender into the fuse, and then screwed the new bolt into the extender. Mission accomplished!

I wish I had a picture of the set up, but they came out blurry. This should be better than nothing:

The second problem was in regards to my truck, as hinted to by the fact that I had to borrow my mother’s car. Coming home from Saint-Bruno the other day, my truck started to make an odd noise in the engine compartment. When I got in, nothing was smoking, but the compartment felt hotter than it should. I conceded that there was something really wrong with my truck and decided to stop driving it until I can take it in to a mechanic.

A lot of my troubleshooting happens during lucid dreams and I woke up this morning with a DOH. The last time I had trouble with the truck, she was fine after adding oil. I checked the oil level this afternoon and, sure enough, it was super low.  Carquest Auto Parts is right across the street from the home store, so I went there after and picked up oil as well as a headlight lamp for the driver’s side of the truck as those things really do go out in pairs!

The manual for my Ford Ranger says it needs 5W30 oil, so I thought I’d be in and out, but there was a dizzying amount of 5W30s available! I decided to ask for help and the nice older gentleman at the cash told me I was holding the correct oil, but that their ‘house brand’ was cheaper by a couple of bucks. Whenever someone tries to sell me something cheaper than what I’ve picked, I’m led to believe that the salesperson is looking out for my best interests. Don’t burst my bubble! 😀 I also remembered to pick up a funnel!

I came home, did the electrical modification, then got the hood of the truck open. I started by replacing the lamp and it was more difficult than doing the passenger side as there were a few things in the way, but I got it done. Then, I added oil, a little at a time, until there was enough. While I was elbow-deep in the engine compartment with my hands filthy, I caught the eye of a little old lady walking her dog and she grinned at me. I guess she doesn’t see that many gals (much less ones in skirts) working on their trucks!

The engine started a little roughly, but that’s not worrisome as the truck has been sitting and, as per Ken, is coming on due for a tune up. I let her run for a bit, then took her around the block. No odd noises!!! I still need to get that tune up done and have the front bearings looked at, but it looks like disaster was averted.

I know I probably sound like an idiot because checking oil levels is so basic, but I’ve never, in my 10 years of vehicle ownership, of which eight were with brand new cars, had to worry about such things. Now, I know, and I’ll add it to my routine. Moya and I are still just starting to get to know each other and once we get the kinks worked out, everything will be just fine. I love driving my truck! 🙂

What’s next after doing a little electricity and automotive work? I’m thinking of cooking myself a nice dinner. Guys, I’m a catch and I’m available! 😀

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14 Comments

  • In all the years that we had used vehicles, some of which were rather old, I was in the habit of checking the oil on a fairly regular basis. Having had new vehicles in the last decade or so however, it’s easy enough to think you don’t have to worry about it. (well, that’s my ‘story’ anyway)
    I will still pop the hood and check the oil on the vehicle we’re currently driving after the first long leg of a trip, just to know it’s not going to pitch a fit somewhere out on the highway. When those warning lights come on, my heart rate goes up, and our previous diesel (an Audi) did use a smidgen of oil between changes.

  • I now know that I really do need to do my oil changes at the proper intervals and that I need to verify the oil levels between them. At least, checking the oil is an easy task!

  • “Guys, I’m a catch and I’m available!”

    That one brought a smile to my face!

    When your vehicle is burning oil like yours a simple idea is to check the oil every time you get gas. You may as well do something while you are waiting to fill up.

    Also, you could check with a trusted mechanic about switching to a thicker oil. I have been using 15 -50 in my old MH for almost ten years and it cut the oil consumption in half. You could at least try 10-30 to see what happens, but be sure to check with your mechanic first for your peace of mind.

  • Gary, I wouldn’t say the truck is really ‘burning’ oil. She did the entire cross-country trip on the same fill, no problem. My mistake was not having an oil change done right upon returning.

    My mother gave me the number of a trusted mechanic and I will ask him about the oil when I go see him, thanks!

  • Keep a little book in the glovebox and write down the date and mileage every time you do anything other than buy gas. That way you will be able to figure out how many KM you get before adding oil, how much you added and if it is getting worse.

    “Normal” oil use is hard to define. In different articles it says anywhere from 1000 KM per litre to 7,500 KM per litre. I change the oil in all three vehicles every 5000 KM or so and have never added oil to any of them between changes.

    As Gary says, start checking the oil every time you gas up. You do not want to run the engine when the oil is too low.

  • Rae – the types of oil on the shelf can be mind boggling. However , just buy the viscosity recommended by your manufacturer – in your case 5 w 30. Glad the salesperson was honest as all 5 w 30’s are basically the same as they have to meet SAE standards (Society of Automotive Engineers). As one of the other posters pointed out, regular oil level checks and respecting the change interval, will go a long way in protecting your truck (Miranda too!) A web link if you wish to read further http://www.upmpg.com/tech_articles/motoroil_viscosity/

  • Keep a litre (or two) in the truck and every time it is down a litre, top it off. Unless you are close to oil change time anyway and in that case, get it changed.

    Do not let it get more than a litre low. Your dip stick should have a line or notch a half inch or so below the full line. This is the “add” mark and one litre should fill it.

  • Mike, thanks for that link!

    Croft, my manual says to only add oil if I am below the ‘fill’ mark. If I am between ‘fill’ and ‘full’ then I am to wait until the oil change. Yesterday, I was right at the ‘fill’ mark.

    The guy at Carquest said that if my check oil light hasn’t come on yet, I probably haven’t done any damage worth worrying about. I hope he’s right!

  • HA! You got us all excited when you said your oil was “super low”
    Sounds like you were just down a quart.

    You certainly have some good friends with great advice on here.

    I am kind of a nut, so I add oil when I am just a half quart down. BTW that “Quart” stuff is American 🙂

  • Gary, I’d say I had to add close to two litres yesterday, so somewhere between one and two quarts. So that was low enough to make my gauge jump and make some noise, but I still had at least half the correct amount of oil.

    I speak pretty fluid American when it comes to measures, btw. 😀 I think the only thing I haven’t mastered yet is the mile. I actually convert metres to feet and kilograms to pounds. 🙂 As for quarts and pints, I know that a quart is just about a litre and a pint is just about half a litre. That makes me laugh because in québécois, we call any size of milk container a ‘pint de lait’ (with pint pronounced like paint!).

  • I must have missed something. Normally there would only be one wire connected to the fuse, as each circuit should be fused separately with the fuse sized according to the expected load. if more than 3 wires must connect at a point it is better to us a BUSS BAR with several terminals (one for each wire) and then connect that to the fuse. Having each wire with its own terminal facilitates disconnecting it and also trouble shooting.

  • Ken, each line does have its own fuse, then all the lines connect to a giant master fuse that protects the entire system. Good question!

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  • […] in the battery bank looked fine, but I was able to give the new bolt a couple more turns with a wrench. It’s so hard to get in there that I must have told myself, […]

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