October 30, 2016

Sure Footed

Although technically still good, the Explorer needed new tires before the snow gets serious here in NH. I haven't been overly happy with the Michelin A/T's that were on it when I bought it. Oh, they did okay in snow, but wet roads were not as good as I would have liked. At stop signs, to start going, there was wheel slippage even under gentle power. Additionally, two of the tires developed slow leaks, so I was putting air in them every couple of weeks - depending on my TPS to tell me when they needed it.

I thought I would wait until December or so to get tires, but I have been keeping an eye on flyers from local places to see what was on sale, or what rebates were available. The dealer that I normally have my vehicles service had given me a quote of $750 for the same tires that were on the truck plus another $90 for the 4-wheel alignment (necessary for a 4WD vehicle). Yeah, I know SUV tires, especial A/T's are expensive, but if I were to pay that much, I wanted a tire I was happier with.

Thursday I realized there is a tire place about 2 miles from work. So it would be easy to drop off and pick up the truck. I got online and looked at what they had. I recognized a couple of the tires from the research I had been doing, but then I ran into a tire I had never heard of, Kumho, which was not only on sale, but offered a rebate too. They were extremely low priced and I thought that they couldn't really be very good but since they were also Mountain/Snow rated, I went to look them up on TireRack anyway. I was pleasantly surprised that the Road Venture AT51 were well regarded for all the things I was looking for in a tire. The Kumho's were rated as #2 and the existing tires were rated at #5 (and look at those snow and wet traction rating differences - which were my main concerns).

Only snag was that the rebate was only good for tires bought by 10/31/16. I went to the tire place's appointment maker on their website and was pleasantly surprised that I could get in first thing the next morning. So I arranged for various co-workers to pick me up and drop me off, and I was in business.

For about $200 less than I was quoted for tires that I wasn't thrilled with, I got a top rated tire, my TPS service and stems replaced, and 4-wheel alignment - aand that is without factoring in the rebate (which I have already applied for). Between the $$ savings and looking at the nice aggressive tread, and the pattern versus what was on there was enough to make me giddy :D.

Kuhmo tire tread on Explorer
Kuhmo tire tread on Explorer

Then I drove the 30 miles home, on wet roads. Oh. My. A nice smooth ride on the heaved portions, nice starting from stops on the wet pavement, and no tire noise. After driving to Concord yesterday via highway, once again on wet roads, I experienced the same pleasure. So, as long as they hold up well in the snow, and I have no reason to believe they won't, I am one happy camper that I gave these "cheapy" tires a chance.

Posted by Bogie on October 30, 2016 at 06:31 AM in Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 27, 2016

New Tunes

When driving the Explorer, I have had an issue with the radio. Oh, it works fine, but it is the stock radio in a 2004 vehicle, so there is no place to plug in my MP3 player. It has a CD player, but can't play burned CD's (the only ones I have now). Around here, radio reception is iffy, except for a couple of stations. Either those stations play stuff I don't want to listen to, or have about 20 ads for every song they play, so is very aggravating.

After perusing the Ford Explorer forum, I found a good recommendation on where to get a new radio for cheap. I went to Crutchfield's and got a basic radio/CD player that has the AUX port and it was at closeout price. Included in the price was the wiring harness, the dash cover (I went from double-din to single-din) and shipping.

I've had the radio for 3-4 weeks, just either didn't have the opportunity to do the swap, or it was bone-chilling cold so I wasn't going to sit out in that weather and do it. Last Sunday was a nice, sunny day, so I tackled the project. Wiring the harness to the radio was easy as all the wire colors matched up. The dash came apart easily, and the plugs were were they were supposed to be.

So, in the matter of about 1.5 hours the job was done (I'm slow, nervous and a klutz). The stock radio

Original Explorer Radio

The new radio (upper part is a small cubby hole)

New Explorer Radio

I haven't tried the CD player, but the AUX port works great with my MP3 player, so I am happy.

Posted by Bogie on February 27, 2016 at 05:01 PM in Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 13, 2016

New Parts

I dropped the Explorer off Thursday night so they could replace the bumper Friday. Picked it up today. Here is the massive damage that I never noticed.

Bumper - scratched

Here is the new bumper

Bumper - new

Still can't believe they replaced the whole thing for those scratches. Really, I never would have known and it's not like the bumper would have rotted away from them. And actually, probably one of the cheapest parts to replace on the whole vehicle looking at the invoice that the insurance paid.

Posted by Bogie on February 13, 2016 at 02:57 PM in Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 06, 2016

Explorer Ready to Explore Again

I got the call on Thursday that the insurance adjuster had been in to the shop and authorized several things:

  • Break down the tire that got hit, take out the plastic parts that were wedged between tire and rim, remount, and balance
  • 4 wheel alignment. No other problems were noted, but the 4 wheel alignment would help determine if other things were out of wack
  • Order a new front bumper as there was damage (holy cow, I didn't notice damage and neither did anyone else that looked at it.

So, they did the tire stuff and alignment and ordered the bumper. That will take some time to get in, so when I dropped off the Focus for inspection (it passed!), I picked up the truck. I took a look at the bumper and there are just a couple of minor scratches. Nothing I ever would have noticed or expected to have fixed - especially since it is rubber/plastic/composite, so its not like it will rust. However, this vehicle was in truly excellent condition cosmetically when I bought it (except a known defect on the back door), and the bank expects it to be restored to that condition, so that is what they are doing.

Both vehicles are home and when I get the call that the bumper is in, I'll drop the truck off for a day. Meanwhile, I figure I have warded off any more snow until then; the local TV station says the computer is showing 2 models for Mon/Tues - one that the system completely misses us, the other that we get a good storm - I know which we would have gotten if I only had the Focus :)

Posted by Bogie on February 6, 2016 at 06:40 PM in At Home, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (4)

February 05, 2016

Now Winter Visits

Put the truck in the shop Tuesday evening - only a bit of rain in the forecast. Thursday  at lunch, the forecast was a light dusting over a couple hour span around noon Friday. Thursday evening the forecast was 1-3" starting shortly before the morning commute and ending right about lunch time.

By noon, I knew I wouldn't make it home - 8" and still another 3-5" forecast. There is no way I can drive the Focus in this so have to get a hotel room.  More snow to come on Sunday and on Monday.

Already cancelled the Sat 7 am appointment to get the Focus inspected. Which means I won't even have a legal vehicle to drive next week.

My life just keeps finding different ways to eff with me.

UPDATE: Well, where hotel rooms are available (not close to here), they are $360 for the night. The elections are next week. decided to try the drive home and made it alive. Actually had less snow at my place, although the roads were a bit worse. Called and re-established my appointment in the morning, so should be legal for driving next week.

Posted by Bogie on February 5, 2016 at 12:21 PM in Cursed, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (6)

January 30, 2016

Another Oldy is New

I've been looking for a vehicle that gets better mpg for everyday driving for the last month or so. Plus, I need an extra vehicle in case one goes down - I can still get to work. Case in point, while Explorer is in shop to check for damage from the accident.

Newly installed in the garage is a 2007 Ford Focus ZX4 with almost 200k miles. I paid a little less than what I got for the Patriot that had a dead transmission - I figure I'm ahead. It's in pretty good shape; just has high mileage. I'll see if it passes inspection next weekend, but I don't see any reason it shouldn't pass. It is a 5-speed so I'm looking forward to driving a standard again.

Ford Focus ZX4 2007 bought 1-30-16

During the test drive I forgot to down shift as I was coming to a stop light until the owner reminded me - funny how short a time one forgets even though I still have the urge to shift the Explorer on a regular basis (haven't ever reached for the clutch, just reach for a shifter that isn't there).

I'm still keeping the Explorer for driving in winter weather, hauling pellets and other heavy loads, and it can pull a trailer if I ever get one. Plus, it doesn't fit in the garage anyway, so no extra space is needed for the car.

Still need to get tags for the car, so it will be safely ensconced in the garage for a couple more days before I can start enjoying the 28-35 mpg (better even than the Patriot was at 26-28).

Posted by Bogie on January 30, 2016 at 07:40 PM in At Home, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (8)

Bogie Luck Strikes - Literally

I have had the Explorer a grand total of less than 3 months. And someone went and ran into me Thursday night. First accident I've been in since sometime in the early '90's (someone ran into me there too).

II had gotten home after a 12 hour day and decided a dump run was in order. I was in the center of town behind several cars stopped at the light (3-4 blocks from home). The other driver turned from the cross street into the oncoming lane, ran over the curb on her side, turned and drove directly into my SUV. It looks as if she hit the center of my front, driver’s side wheel with the front, driver’s bumper of her car.She wedged the corner of her car between my wheel and wheel well so had to jockey several times to get unstuck.

There doesn’t seem to be any cosmetic damage. However, I am concerned about any damage she might have done that can’t be seen. When I bought the SUV in November, a new steering rack was installed and I have no idea if that, or other parts, could have been damaged by the impact. At the very least I will need an alignment, which is 4-wheel alignment since it is a 4WD. If it had been the Patriot, there would have been a lot of damage and I might not have been able to drive to work the next day.

Thankfully, no one appears to have been hurt.

After dealing with the police, I completed my mission then on my way back I noticed she was still there waiting for the tow truck, with no one else waiting for her. So I offered her a ride home since she lives about 1/4 mile further down my street.

Emailed my insurance agent when I got home, then called Friday morning. Still waiting for the adjuster to contact me. Bad timing since I am supposed to put long hours in again next week, so getting it somewhere to have the underneath gone over will be difficult and I will have to take off at least half a day to do so.

Posted by Bogie on January 30, 2016 at 07:34 AM in Cursed, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (3)

November 27, 2015

RIP The Patriot

Sold the Patriot today. Can't justify the money it would have taken to put a tranny in it.Probably the last new vehicle I wil ever buy. I've bought 3 brand new, and the Patriot lasted for less than 6 years, the Nissan less than 5. For the cost of new vehicles, I can buy used every couple of years and come out ahead. Besides the fact that anything 4WD is stupid expensive (even AWD is prohibitive).


Posted by Bogie on November 27, 2015 at 05:46 PM in Cursed, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (4)

November 13, 2015

What is Old is New

Over the last several weeks, the Jeep has not been doing so well. I believed it to be a transmission issue so I asked my local mechanic to check into getting a re-manufactured tranny for it. Seems that it is super special and there are none to be found (combination between it being fairly new - 2010, manual instead of automatic, and a 4WD instead of AWD). In fact, one of the mechanic's distributors said that he had been searching for the exact same tranny, for someone else, for 2 months.

On 11/3, as I was driving it to the mechanic for him to check out, it got way worse. After he took it for a test drive, he told me he wouldn't even try to drive it home if he were me.

So, I drove to the local Ford dealer and started looking at the used vehicles they had. I ended up test driving a 2004 Explorer that had just been traded in with 130,000 miles. Not having time to search other venues (and not having other venues within walking distance to check out), I decided that the price was something I could live with. We agreed upon a price, with the stipulation that they would do all work needed to pass inspection (I already knew that the steering rack needed replaced), and  they set up the work order.

I rode my bike to work the rest of the week, used it to get groceries over the weekend, and rode to work on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Those last two days were a chilly 24 and 26 degrees in the morning - which was a fine time to find out my heated gear controller no longer worked (hadn't used it but a couple of times since I got it last year). Oh well, I didn't freeze to death so I can't complain too much.

Tuesday night the Explorer was ready for me to pick up so I walked part way to meet up with the salesman, who drove me the rest of the way to the dealership.

2004 Ford Explorer-sm

It rained the rest of this week (or most of it), so I was glad to have the truck. Tomorrow I should actually see what it looks like in daylight - I've only seen it in the dark of morning or evening.

I'll have my mechanic continue looking for a tranny for the Jeep. It would be nice to get it fixed since it gets twice the gas mileage as the Explorer and is more suitable for everyday driving. However, the Explorer will be good for hauling a trailer, should I ever get one, and can haul a bunch more pellets both volume and weight wise even without a trailer, so will be handy to have regardless if I can ever get the Jeep fixed.

Posted by Bogie on November 13, 2015 at 06:45 PM in Cursed, Life in General, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (7)

February 05, 2010

Coolness Factor

Last Sunday I had a (!) light go off on the dash of the Jeep. "OMG", I thought, "I haven't even gotten the window fixed yet." After a bit of investigation, I found that the (!) means that tire pressure is low. Didn't know which tire, but one was low.

Since it was in negative numbers temperature wise, that was understandable. I didn't put any air in, figuring that once the temps warmed up, it would be fine. Well, that didn't happen, so I stopped on Tuesday and put in air. The left front tire was at about 32 psi (supposed to be 35) and the rest were just under 35. Once I got the tires aired up, the (!) went out.

Kind of cool to get a heads up like that - especially since it can affect gas mileage and, with all the miles I put on, I need all the advantages I can get.

Posted by Bogie on February 5, 2010 at 05:11 PM in Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (8)