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That Didn't Work Out As Planned

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:09 am

Sometimes the simplest task can turn into a real nightmare. For example, on the way home from church this past Sunday our car overheated. I won't even go into the ordeal that it took to get it home, but I finally managed to get it there. I checked the radiator and the coolant level was good. It didn't take a lot to surmise that the thermostat was the culprit. I thought to myself, "At least it shouldn't take very long." Boy was I wrong.

I made the ten mile trip to the auto parts store and purchased a thermostat, gasket and a gallon of antifreeze. Once I was back home I pulled out the two screws holding in the thermostat housing and removed the old thermostat. I cleaned off the old gasket material, put in the new thermostat and screwed everything back together. It only took me about twenty minutes. At this point I was pretty happy with the outcome. I didn't even lose any coolant so the gallon of antifreeze wasn't needed.

My first mistake was not checking for leaks before test driving the car. I got down the road and the temperature gauge shot over to hot. I turned around right away and headed back home. By the time I got there steam was boiling out from under the hood. I popped the hood and could see that water was shooting out from around the thermostat housing. After things cooled off a little I took a closer look and found what was wrong. Apparently I had torn the gasket when I put it in.

So, I made another ten mile trip to the parts store and bought another gasket. Back home I pulled everything back apart, installed the new gasket and put everything back together again. Since I blew out all the coolant in the first go round I also filled the radiator back up. This time I checked for leaks before I drove anywhere and found a trickle of antifreeze coming out from behind the thermostat housing. Ugh! So… I took everything back apart again, cleaned both surfaces really good and then put it back together. The leak was still there!

Thankfully, it was about this time that my wife let me know that dinner was ready. I sat at the dinner table frustrated and aggravated and while I sat there a funny thing happened. It started getting dark. I had completely forgotten about the stupid daylight savings time and how darkness was going to start coming one hour earlier. I don't have lights under the carport and I wasn't about to struggle with a flashlight to get the work done so I realized that my work on the car was over for the day. I can't say that it hurt my feelings either. I called my boss and explained the situation and he didn't have a problem with me staying home to get the car running. That's about the only good thing that came out of this experience; I got to stay home from work.

The next day I started with a fresh attitude. I took my time and pulled everything back apart again. I gently removed the thermostat housing and watched in utter disbelief as the gasket promptly ripped in half. So, here I go once again on a ten mile trip to the parts store. I picked up the $1.29 gasket and headed back home (I spent more than that in gas). I started to buy an extra gasket just in case, but my stubbornness and pride wouldn't let me.

Back home I took a look at everything one more time before putting it back together. It was then that I finally found what was preventing everything from seating properly. There was a very small piece of the old gasket almost cemented to the housing. I had to work pretty hard to get it off, but once that happened and I got everything back together the mystery of the leaky thermostat housing was finally put to rest.

When everything was said and done it took me two days and three trips to the parts store to complete what should have been a twenty minute job. And who knows what my blood pressure was reading all that time? Sometimes it's easier to just let someone else work on the car.

Last edited: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:35 pm

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eileen wrote on Wed Nov 05, 2014 9:16 am:

I'm sorry but your story made me laugh. Why? Well that's exactly the kind of thing that's happened here before. The simplest, and easiest, of jobs for some reason always seem to take so much longer than the complicated ones!!
Even changing a light bulb in our car can take over an hour instead of just minutes as the whole headlight housing has to be stripped to put in the replacement.
Oh the joys of owning a vehicle.


eclecticgarden wrote on Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:47 am:

That's okay Eileen it was meant to be funny. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who goes through this kind of thing.


Frank wrote on Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:02 am:

I hate those days. One little slip up and the resulting frustration causes any more slip ups as a result. Somedays it's better just to stay in bed!


eclecticgarden wrote on Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:26 am:

What fun would life be Frank if everything went smoothly all the time?

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