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18 May 2012

My Car, and an attempt at copying Michelangelo

I recently got a car, YAY!!! I got a 2000 model 1300 Toyota Tazz, Its got aircon (thank goodness), radio, anti-hijacking, central locking and a pile of other little extras that are awesome to have on my own first car. But, and yes of course there is always a ‘but’, there were a few things that are/were in need of repair before I can get it through the Roadworthy test. In SA, and I am sure elsewhere too, you are required to take your vehicle through a Roadworthy test before you can get it onto your name.

The list was the alternator bearings (well that was more for my own safety than the RW), the headlights were working but the brights were not, the one tail light, a couple of rust spots, the ceiling (or what car people call the hood lining), the one back door would not open, and lastly some ring seals somewhere in the engine (no I don’t remember what it’s called) need to be replaced because its making a cloud of smoke when we start it.
So began an adventure to get my car going. Although my grandfather is a mechanic, and I do call myself a tomboy, my knowledge of cars is (embarrassingly) very limited. And since Gramps is on the other side of the world, I “Daddy”ied and googled my way through as much DIYing as I can.

We started with a basic service that my dad taught me how to do, changing the air filter, the fuel filter, oil change and oil filter. My grandpa told us that we could leave the sparkplugs since they’re not giving issues at the moment, so we left them well enough alone.
Fortunately my father has a lot of electrical knowledge, and after spending a few hours on Google we found a wiring diagram for the car. So my dad took the whole steering column apart, sheesh that did scare me to see my new baby in pieces, but he found the fault with the headlights bright setting and got everything back together. Then he fixed the tail light. And if I had not been heavily ill with the flu last week I would have stuck my nose in while he took out the Alternator. He decided that changing the bearings was a little bit out of his expertise, so we took it to an auto-electrician that we had been recommended to, and it only cost R300 (score for cheapness). Dad got it back in with no probs.

So that’s 3 things down, and 4 to go. I tried my hand at taking apart the one back door that’s giving issues. It was fun, much like a jigsaw puzzle. So we got that open and discovered that it was in fact the central locking mechanism in that particular door that had ceased, so dad whipped it out, and we put the door back together again. Memo to self, always hand lock that door. One door without central locking is actually not such an issue.

4 problems down, 3 to go. Next item on the agenda was the ceiling or hood lining that had fabric hanging down. Now apparently if the fabric is sagging, it can protrude into y our driving vision and potentially is a hazard, therefore it needs to be glued backup or replaced or you cannot pass the RW test. So yay say I, another jigsaw puzzle! I googled replacing the hood lining, and found that it should be a fairly easy job, especially with a hatch back. Apparently the reason that car ceilings start to sag is because the foam rubber underneath the fabric has disintegrated. So there I start unclipping the things that hold the ceiling up, (I could kick myself for not taking a ‘before’ photo), and in the process we pulled the fabric off. It turns out what holds the fabric up is a board, the back (part of the board that touches the roof of the car) is made of cardboard, and the front (part that faces down towards the passengers) is a kind of fiberglass. Once the board was out, we had to get rid of the remains of the foam rubber before trying to glue on a new fabric. So there we start washing off the foam rubber and old glue to reveal a yellowish orange fiberglass board. And my mom pops up with an idea, why should we try gluing on a fabric that will only come off in a few years time, why not just paint the board?

Hmmm, now that idea really tickles my fancy as I already want to personalize my car as much as I can. So into the workshop we go to try find some lilac paint, we found some deep dusty blue, and some baby pink which we mixed about a cup full to get this beautiful pale lilac base colour which we gave two coats of (and didn’t even finish the cup of paint!). Once that had dried, the artist in me took over and I just had to paint something on this lovely open canvas. So, as the picture shows, I painted it. The top photo is the board before I put it into the car. The other photos are once it was already in the car.

So, I am very proud of the Michelangelo impressionist that I did in my car. And now there are only 2 things left that are in need of doing before I can get it on my name, the valve stem seals (I remembered what the name of the thing causing the smoke is called), and the rust removal. Whoohoo!