5.219: Vehicle Maintenance

Back in July both of my vehicles required some regular maintenance. Neither task particularly difficult but as they were things I’d never done before I requested the assistance of some friends to ensure everything was done properly.

The Suzuki

The first task was replacing the chain and sprockets on my motorcycle. For this job I once again approached Mr Cool for his expertise as well as his connections for procuring inexpensive components which he’d helped me with in the past. Unfortunately after discussing it with him and some Google searches we decided that the parts I could order online elsewhere were a better choice, he would however still help with the installation.

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I considered changing the final drive ratio through changing the number of teeth on the sprockets, but as I was happy with what I have and didn’t know what I’d want by changing it I kept it as is with the stock setup of 15T/47T (front/rear). I chose to go with a Japanese producer for both the chain and the sprockets, JT Sprockets and EK. The sprockets are made from C45 “high carbon steel” which some Google searches leaves me a bit unsure about. A lot of hits on Google say that C45 is a medium carbon steel, and that C60 is a high carbon steel, though both are high grade steel. I suppose in the end it doesn’t matter as C45 is more than sufficient and it’s wear properties over time should be satisfactory. For the chain I went with an EK 525 SRX2 Quadra-X Ring with a tensile strength of over 9,000! Actually precisely 9,000 lbs. The chain apparently uses “zero stretch technology”, claims the manufacturer, to reduce initial chain stretch. Sounded like a load of BS, but truth be told the chain has not stretched really at all since we installed it. An interesting fact about motorcycle chains that I learned, it’s cheaper to buy a chain with 120 links and cut two off than it is to buy one with 118 like my motorcycle requires. It was $100 for 120 links but $140+ for a fitted chain with 118 links, same chain otherwise.

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Due to a bit of a design issue I’d say with my motorcycle you’re not able to take the old chain off the bike in one piece. You have to cut it to remove it due to the placement of some components that block it’s removal. For this reason, as well as some others, I opted to go with a clip-on master link with the new chain. This will allow for “easy” removal and installation in the future. The Internet makes all sorts of claims whether true or false about clip-ons being less strong than rivet master links or screw on master links but I suppose time will tell. A number of people I know use clip-on links without issue so hopefully I wont have any either.

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Another issue I encountered was while removing the front sprocket. Mr Cool was holding the rear brake and I was trying to remove the nut. But that nut would not move at all, even with the brakes on hard I was almost turning over the motor with the force I was applying. Then Mr Cool decided to try it out and noticed my error. There’s a locking washer that you have to bend away from the nut so that it can spin freely. The washer has teeth like the sprocket and will not rotate without rotating the sprocket and engine. Once you bend it back the nut can spin freely away from the washer and everything is much easier.

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After that the hard part was done, putting the sprockets on was easy, getting the chain tensioned was easy. All that was left was a test ride! What is this new noise I hear? As it would turn out the new front sprocket I bought is noisier than the stock sprocket. The stock sprocket has a soft urethane gasket glued on that seems to dampen the sound of the chain and sprocket. The replacement sprocket does not have this gasket and the gasket was not removable from the old sprocket. So my bike is noisier now. You can see in the photos below the gasket I’m talking about, as well as why the chain and sprockets needed replacing.

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The Saabaru

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The next task was the timing belt on my car. This seemed like a daunting task I didn’t want to tackle myself and so I requested the assistance and expertise of another mechanic friend of mine, Dioptricstraw. Dio ended up doing all the work at the dealer he works at while I watched. While the process looked tedious it didn’t look as arduous as I’d imagined. Everything was pre-marked, all you had to do was line it all up and boom you’re done, even he was amazed at how simple Subaru had made the process. The hardest part of the process was catching all the coolant, which no matter how he tried seemed to always go everywhere else but where the bucket was.

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The first thing Dio did was remove the whole radiator assembly which comes out ridiculously easy. Aside from catching the coolant that is of course. This isn’t a required part of the job, you could leave it in but it gives you so much more space to work with and it’s so quick and easy you might as well. Though it does mean you have to refill it at the end. You might also notice I’m missing the belt for my A/C compressor, I removed this because the A/C doesn’t work and the pulley makes a terrible noise. As I predominantly ride a motorcycle all summer I don’t really care to fix my A/C for the time being.

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Another item Dio recommended we replace during this process was my water pump. So along with the timing belt and some gaskets I ordered a water pump. The website was a little confusing with the information it had on the parts but it listed off five different water pumps I could choose from and so I did. As soon as Dio opened the box and pulled out the pump he knew it was wrong. The bolt pattern was right but the angle of the inlet was wrong. This was a part for a naturally aspirated Subaru, not my turbocharged Subaru. So I borrowed Dio’s truck and drove over to the local Subaru dealer and bought one from them at a considerably higher cost than the one I’d bought online. Nothing like paying dealer prices… Anyway they had one in stock and it was absolutely the right part. Below is a comparison of the new but wrong part and the old but correct part. They’re similar, but there’s a number of differences.

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With the water pump in place Dio aligned all the cogs and slipped the belt into it’s proper position, tensioned it, spun it all to check, and voila. Now it was time to put the cover back on and put the rad back in and filler ‘er up. Once again it was a simple process to put the rad back in place. If only changing my spark plugs was as easy as putting in and taking out the rad, damn flat four.

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Maintenance is never ending, sure these two jobs have been tackled but there are numerous other jobs that still need to be done. The rust on my hatch, the valve shims on the motorcycle, soon to be new tyres on the motorcycle, etc etc… But they’re so much fun to drive and ride.

-Aka

Comments

  1. Rajura says:

    Dang, you have been busy.

    Love seeing motor vehicle maintenance!

    A bit of advice, buy some American white wall tires… they may be less expensive than your fancy “tyres.” ;p

    • Aka says:

      Nothing American made is cheaper 😛 Besides, both my vehicles are Japanese! That’s why I have Korean tyres on my car and French (soon to be German) tyres on my motorcycle! Wait what…

      I’ve actually gotta redo the white reflective tape on the motorcycle rims at some point this summer. I don’t do white wall tyres, but the rims need to have their reflective pinstripe.