Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I might have a future as a mechanic

My little bit of wrenching to get KC’s van back on the road inspired me to finally figure out why my windshield washer fluid reservoir was leaking and whether it was something I could repair.

The thing is, the reservoir is probably the first item they install under the hood. It’s shaped to tuck snugly into the corner, out of the way. Then all the hoses and cables and fuse boxes and electronics, and air filter and braces and brackets and shrouds and pumps and master cylinders go in. And the horn.

There’s just one bolt holding the reservoir in place, but you can only access it through a small gap and you can only see a fraction of what you’re doing. Until Lou spotted the way to reach the bolt I thought I’d have to remove the grill and at least loosen the radiator support.

I started by removing a diagonal support rod and moving some the hood release cable and some wiring bundles as far out of the way as I could. Then the “fun” began.

You know those puzzle boxes that to open them you need to push a thing here, slide a bit there, rotate another thing, and do a tango while standing on your head? Those are child’s play in comparison.

I removed the horn and the end of the air filter canister to get more room. And I used my best swearing.

A half second after I decided it was impossible to remove the reservoir, even if I were to disassemble the entire front of the van, presto, it slid free. Too bad I didn’t notice how I’d done it. Had I been standing on my left foot or right? Had my eyes been crossed? Had my tongue been out? Had I been in the middle of doing the hokey-pokey or had I turned myself about? And which vulgarity had I used? I knew, though, that the reservoir had been at a particular angle and I had rotated it 180 degrees.

After I unplugged the pump and slipped off the hose I filled the reservoir with water. The only place water came out was the outlet of the pump, which is what it’s supposed to do. Okay, the tank was fine, so the leak must be somewhere in the water line.

There’s a rubber hose about a foot long that goes from the pump to some plastic tubing that runs through the engine compartment and up to the washer nozzles, which are mounted to the wipers. Except the rubber hose wasn’t connected to anything. Well, there’s your problem.

Then I created new problem. As I worked the plastic tubing out to where I could reattach the hose to it, I accidentally pulled it from the junction to the wipers. And the junction was mounted beneath the trim panel at the base of the windshield, where the wipers stick out. (Insert sigh of frustration, exasperation and self-loathing.)

I removed the driver side wiper (using more swearing and some thumps with a hammer) and trim panel and reconnected the tube.

With the reservoir, horn, diagonal support rod and air filter end cap still out of the engine bay, I figured it was a good time to fix my stereo problem. Once in a while the stereo turns itself off. Completely. As if a fuse blew. But the fuse is always fine. I pull it out, see that it’s still good, replace it, and the stereo is happy once again. It just needs some me time, do a little reset. Anyway, the fuse box cover is a lot easier to get off with all that other stuff out of the way. I don’t think GM engineers ever work under the hoods of their creations. Or they’re just sadistic bastards.

I used some zip ties to secure the rubber hose to the plastic tubing and the pump then wrestled everything back into place. I plugged in the wiring, put some water in the reservoir and… no leaks. I tried the washers and… success! I turned on the stereo and… success (except I needed to redo all the settings). I was sweaty and my hands were filthy, but I was happy.

My thanks go out to Lou for being an extra set of hands, a fetcher of things, and a supplier of observations, suggestions and wisecracks. And for being company.


  1. Good to "see" Lou back. I've missed him, or, more accurately, I've missed your reports on your interaction with him.

  2. Much more satisfying then throwing hard earned money at a mechanic!