“Mom? Do you ever feel … not so smart?”

I’m an idiot. I broke the first rule of automotive diagnosis. I was a vocational teacher! I must have intoned a hundred times the key to profitable diagnosis:

“Always check the easiest thing first.”

I didn’t do that. I didn’t really check anything – I just jumped to a conclusion. See coolant dripping off the front of the oil pan, your engine must need a water pump. And maybe eight out of ten times that’s even true – but what if you’ve got a real blowout at the thermostat housing? Enough of a leak to cause coolant to pour down the front of the block without evaporating? What then, oh mighty ex dealership mechanic?

It didn’t cost me anything but time, so I shouldn’t bitch. But one day less than a week ago I opened the hood while the engine was good and hot and needing a drink and found steam hissing out of a blown-out thermostat housing gasket. I didn’t know there wasn’t a water pump problem until I fixed the thermostat gasket – but I knew there was a problem with the thermostat gasket or possibly a cracked housing.


So today I replaced the gasket. And since it might be a cracked housing and I wouldn’t be able to get to the auto parts store for another week, I replaced the housing. And the thermostat, since I was there. Turns out it was broken too, so good.

And the front of the engine is not leaking coolant now.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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3 Responses to “Mom? Do you ever feel … not so smart?”

  1. Mark Matis says:

    Unfortunately, that leaves you with nothing to do but sit around the Cantina waiting for the weather to change again.

    Unless, of course, you could train Laddie to operate one of those “rats” and you could chase it around to show him how it’s done. Or take it up to Chickenville and herd the hens. Although that wouldn’t work too well since it’s only got forward and reverse…

  2. terrapod says:

    You are very fortunate that Jeep has the housing where you can reach it without too much effort. I have to replace the thermostat on a VW Passat which has it buried deep down between the fans and the block. Extensions and magnet to fish out the bolts, that is how little clearance there is.

    I treat car work as my alternate hobby, makes things a bit more palatable and saving bucks is a motivator.

  3. tk421a says:

    I’m glad that it was a simple fix after all. As for feeling not so smart, Joel you could do worse…

To the stake with the heretic!