Friday, June 8, 2012

Thermostat and spark plug replacement

The 2003 Saturn Vue was designed by a team of people with a sadistic streak. If I ever get a time machine, the first thing I will do is go back to when they were designing this engine and walk into their office and smack every single one of them in the back of the head as hard as I can while shouting, "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!!!"

To start I removed this air baffle thing.

The next thing I have to remove (now remember, I'm changing sparkplugs and a thermostat, not a piston.) is the upper intake manifold.

There are 5 bolts holding on the upper intake manifold. These bolts are recessed 6 1/2 inches into the manifold. Yes, 6 1/2 inches.

Once that is "out of the way," a project that requires the removal of 11 electrical plugs, the gas line (which requires a special tool, so I figured out a way to NOT remove it) and at least another 14 bolts, you get this view of the corner of the lower intake manifold sitting on top of the thermostat. Oh, did I mention, nowhere did it say that the lover manifold needed removal.

At this point I gave up in disgust and switched to just changing the spark plugs. You see that way, way, way down there? That's the spark plug.

There are two wrenches in this picture. The puny one with the 6 inch extension I used to remove the upper intake manifold and the BIG one with over 14 inches of extension I needed to reach down and get to the spark plugs.

This is the upper intake manifold being held out of the way while I remove and replace the rear set of spark plugs entirely by feel. Also I don't have a picture of the lower intake manifold, because my camera doesn't work in the deep, dark recesses of hell.

After removing the lower intake manifold (and knocking a bunch of debris into the recess where the valves are (whatever the hell you call that)) I brought it inside and scrubbed away the build up of gunk. I was also quite glad the you could only get a gasket kit with all of the gaskets, (top and bottom) for the lower intake manifold. I removed and replaced them all.

FINALLY, after bring the shop-vac out and vacuuming the debris out of the nooks and crannies of the engine, I got the thermostat out of the car. only to find it was different. Now I wanted to go and smack someone at Rock Auto in the back of the head.

But, being The Maker and Fixer of Things, I was not going to be stopped by something as simple as not enough metal on the thermostat. I went rooting around in the back of the car and found a bunch of washers and a nut that was the right size and thread for the bolt to act as a gap filler. Yes, all of the bits that I used were in the car. I know, I know, creepy!

FINISHED! Time for a beer!

I won't bother you with the drama of the reassembly of the engine. As usual, I had labelled everything as it came out and it all went back in without trouble. Total elapsed time a little over 8 hours. 

After scrubbing several times, my hands were still looking like they belonged to a character from a Tim Burton movie!

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