Saturday, April 23, 2022

Automotive Fix?


The last time I took a picture of our HHR was December of last year on our way home.  Back in the middle of March, a check engine light came on and every week it seemed to run rougher and rougher.  Knowing we would be at Sandy and Arny's house within the month, and knowing the vast amount of knowledge, experience and tools available there, I decided to chance it and wait until we got to Citrus Heights to do the work.  We bought it in early 2011, it was a 'rental' which was put up for sale at a car dealership.  Not sure what work they might have performed on it, but over the past 11 years we have put around 130,000 miles on it, pulled it behind motorhomes for at least another 100,000 miles, and it has been very reliable for us with just a few problems prior to now.

Thinking that it was just the Spark Plugs, I went to O'Reilly Auto Parts and picked those up and put them in on Monday.  $45, and it seemed to be better...but only short lived.  

(Black things are coils, spark plugs under them)

Monday afternoon I took it to O'Reilly Auto Parts where they ran check engine codes. Not only did it need the Spark Plugs, but also Ignition Coils (one for each spark plug), Throttle Body cleaning or replacing (this gadget allows the air into the cylinders), an Oxygen Sensor (we put that in back in 2016 so I skipped putting that in even though I bought it), Mass Airflow Sensor (which works in conjunction with the Throttle Body).  Ok, that's another $325, not including the Throttle Body which we decided to ignore for now, and all of the parts would be available Tuesday morning.

(O2 sensor left, Mass Airflow sensor right)

By Tuesday afternoon it was working much better, and I even went over to visit mom afterwards.  But on the way home, it started acting up as if I never did anything.  So we decided to take out the Throttle Body, and it was DIRTY DIRTY DIRTY.  Arny soaked it in some 'stuff' all night, and I put it in Wednesday morning.  Worked like a charm again...until it the engine warmed up.  Arny's friend Steve has a code reader which works on his phone, real neat, and the top code was Throttle Body and O2 sensor.  We still held off on doing that O2 sensor...but got a new Throttle Body.

(Throttle Body)

So I went back to O'Reilly Auto Parts and ordered a new Throttle Body, $220.  I 'almost' turned the O2 sensor in for credit, but thought I could do that later just in case (smart thinking that time).  Thursday I picked up the new Throttle Body, put it in and the HHR worked better than ever...until it warmed up.  Steve came over late afternoon and ran his code reader again, and it pointed to the O2 sensor...which I had but did not put in due to how hard it was to get to it.  

(Code Reader, sends info to your Smart Phone via bluetooth)

So far I had done all the work except cleaning the Throttle Body.  With the O2 sensor, I was going to have to rely a bunch on Arny.  So Friday mid-morning we first cleaned the engine (Arny likes to work on clean engines).  Around 1 pm we started on the O2 sensor which took us about an hour.  WOW, now it was really working like a charm.  Took it around the neighborhood, let it get nice a warmed up, and it was working perfect.  Took it for a 12 mile run north on the Interstate, got off and right back on headed south...perfect...until the check engine light came back on...but it still worked flawlessly.

Did a bit more research and found that the computer can take awhile...even up to a few hundred miles, before it relearns everything.  So for now we are claiming victory...but there is a chance we might need to do a bit more work if I want to stop this one check engine code from popping up.

I never finished our are just items.   With the loss of our GPS/Music, we "HAD" to have something.  I remembered that I had a speaker which is powered by USB and/or Solar, which would connect via bluetooth to my Kindle Fire.  Speaker box above, Kindle below (I have a keyboard attachment with this Kindle)

I downloaded some tunes to the Kindle so it would work with or without Internet, and we enjoyed some tunes the final few days to Citrus Heights.

I guess our Amazon Prime was up for renewal, and Amazon hunted us down, twisted our arms, and now, after another $120, we are good to go for another year.

Typical view of Mojave Desert, I-40 headed to Barstow

Gee wiz Dorothy, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore....  Gas price in Barstow (thank goodness we filled up our tank in Arizona)

Gas price on Highway 58 near Kramer Junction.  This station has been open for about a year.  We stopped and let Indy play in their Doggie Park...she enjoyed that a lot.

Joshua Tree in bloom as we head toward Tehachapi Pass, and then Bakersfield

One of MANY rough bridges we had to cross...only 150 miles to put up with....


Pictures taken Friday Evening

Yes, they had the tree cut back

She just LOVES this did Skruffy and Bubba

Lots of Hummingbirds this year

Fewer Doves due to Cats

It is Spring, Finches Looking for Action

Fewer Squirrels, again Cats

I'll Keep Them Fricken Cats Away!!!!!


  1. Hopefully all those repairs will do the trick! The weather sure looks beautiful there. We got 2" of rain and about 3" of snow overnight.

    1. I miss the days of just changing Spark Plugs, Points and Condenser & Rotor, and occasionally the plug wires, spray some carb cleaner into the carburetor and you were good for another 15,000-20,000 miles. Of course back then, gas was only 25-40 cents per gallon too....

  2. Good grief ... it's a good thing you guys are mechanics. You lost me after spark plugs. Indy has that look on her face .... NO KITTYS!! When I came through Barstow it was only something like $4.69 a gallon, cheaper than Bakersfield!! Now of course it's sky high!

    1. You have to wonder just how HIGH it will get before there is a revolution or something... And NO ONE with a brain is buying the "Putin Gas Price", that is such a crock.

      It took like two seconds for Indy to get use to being back here. She LOVES all this grass, all the birds and squirrels, and the occasional cat sighting.


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