First off, I actually slept in today until about 7:30 AM, and then I sat in my La-Z-Boy sipping on a (few) cups of Seattle's Best coffee. After a small breakfast, I headed outside to start working on Hagan's car. Today's job was to install new rear sway bar links. That job is super easy; it only took me about 15 minutes. So, I decided spend some time inspecting his car to see what in the world has been rattling and clunking underneath it (the new links, although needed, did not stop the noise).
I began by looking in the trunk because sometimes the tensioner rods in the trunk come unclipped from each other and clank together as you drive. They were, indeed, disconnected, so I reinstalled the clip. However, that didn't fix the noise either. So, I jacked it back up and went underneath. I started banging on various things under the car with my fist to see what might rattle or clunk. Actually, the fuel tank made the most noise. The straps seemed a bit loose. So I monkeyed with those for a few minutes until things were a little tighter, but the noise persisted. So then I removed the back seat bottom to see if something was loose under it. I found a dime and an old Atari game cartridge (Hockey!! How apropos for Hagan).
But neither of those things were the culprit. After searching for a little longer, the only thing left that I could think of is a loose body panel (or many). The rear passenger side quarter panel is loose because some of the plastic clips are missing or broken or the ones that are still there are the wrong size. So it moves around. It's either that or the heat shield that sits above the muffler.
After messing around with that, I moved to the front where I checked for movement in the ball joints and tie rods. Fortunately, those are good. But then I got under the car. Oh boy. There is a fairly substantial oil leak on the back of the engine. It could be an oil pan gasket gone bad, but it almost looked to me like it was leaking from up higher. I know it's not the back side of the valve cover gasket because I have already replaced it, and I can confirm from the top that it is dry. It is also possible that the power steering pump is going out. It's been moaning a bit lately. I know for sure that the fluid needs to be changed; I opened the cap and it smelled a little burnt and it's black (it's supposed to be red). So, that is on the list, too. And, just so you know, replacing the pump will not be nearly as easy as it was on my niece's Honda! Here's the job on a Maxima, which is essentially the same on an Altima.
But wait... there's more! I also checked the axle CV boots. Passenger side looked good. Driver's side... well, not so much. It's torn in two places, and the grease has flung out all over. So... today I ordered a new front left axle and a handful of tools to help me get the job done. The axle won't arrive until March 3, unfortunately. At least the job is pretty straightforward.
You can see in the second the two places where the inner boot is torn, and grease has been flinging out from both.
In addition to work on the car, I also applied Thompson's water sealer to the wooden ramp to my shed's door. I rebuilt that ramp a few years back and I'd like to keep it in good shape. I also applied the water sealer to my mailbox post. Then I worked a bit on the vanity that we're refurbishing for our renovated bathroom (which is still in progress; glass for shower and countertop are on order).
After that, my nephew brought his Volvo S40 over, and we put rear sway bar links on it, too. He did one and I did the other. We were literally finished with that job in 15 minutes.