Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's Not As Scary As It Looks

This is a Hemi diesel engine.  More specifically, this is the Hemi diesel engine on our truck.  No, I'm not going to be talking about cooking steak on the engine block.

It is old.  It is a diesel.  It requires maintenance every week.  We could either take it to our lovely mechanic - it's very own mani-pedi appointment - or I could learn what to do.  How hard could it be, right?

Well, aside from possibly getting an arm chopped off or electrocuting myself, but what doesn't have a little risk?, it's actually pretty easy - and they even put little pictures in the engine.

So - my Dear Honey has been going over (and over and over) the maintenance routine and here is my first time checking it all by myself.

Today we're going to do the first part - we check the transmission fluid level.  

This is the fluid that has to be in the truck so it has the power to drive.  The whole motion thing.  If your transmission is broken, you aren't going anywhere.  Ever.  It's really expensive to replace the transmission.  One of my friends is a transmission expert.  He has a very very very nice house.  I don't want to be the one restocking his coy pond this year.  I'll check the fluid.

This has to be done with the engine running and the transmission in neutral.  This one is the most dangerous because you have to stick you arm into the engine area when it is running - and there is a big belt roaring around and the whole truck is shaking (because it's a diesel and they do that) and there are 2 batteries filled with electrical charge.  So don't wear any loose scarf or dangly necklaces and pay attention to what is going on when you do this.  

Just be cautious.  And focus.  You can do this.

That's the dip stick for the transmission fluid.  It says "trans fluid" on it (even though it is shaking because the engine is running).  Just reach in and pull it straight out.  It's about 3-feet long.  Wipe it off with a clean paper towel, put it back in. And pull it out again.  This gives you a clean reading.

If you just pulled it out and looked at it without "resetting" it by the wipe/dip, you would get a bad reading because all the fluid in there sloshes around while you drive and some of it gets further up the stick then it would if the truck was just sitting in the driveway.  Even if the engine really shakes when it is just sitting in the driveway.

Look at the level of the fluid.  It has to be between those bumps on the dip stick.  It usually says:  Add--->|XXXXX|<---Full  The object being to get the fluid in the "XXXXX" spot, not below - or there's not enough of it to lubricate whatever part it should lubricate.  And not above, or there's too much pressure and one of the plastic gaskets that seal the metal parts together will blow out.  Since this is not a finely tuned high performance racing engine, we are not worried about being a little over.  Since this is an old vehicle - we are definitely worried about being under.

My fluid level here is low.  I added 2 cups of transmission fluid down the little opening where the dip stick goes in.  

My Dear Honey says I shouldn't say "2 cups" because this is not baking, it's automobile maintenance and everything in automobile maintenance is in quarts (as in "hey Joe, give me a quart of oil, she's looking a little low here.").  

So I'm going to translate that into automechanical-ese.  "I added a 1/2-quart of tranny fluid.  Put 'er right in the reservoir.  She should be good for a week or so, but I'd keep an eye on the mileage there."

See?  It's all in the lingo!

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