Keeping the old girl running… (My Bucket).

With Winter coming, my old Chevy had decided to start barking at me in the form of warnings and check engine lights. Last September when I picked it up (Say Hello to Bucket), in short order a few problems popped up which needed to be remedied before inspection (and use).

It went off to Vinny at Pro Automotive (the only local mechanic I trust) for new wheel bearings, a new fuel pump, and new straps to hold the tank on. I repaired enough of the EVAP system to get it to pass inspection. Roughly $1700 later I’d drive it without worrying.

Along the way I also made a point to fix (nearly) every failed switch or component in the truck… Window switches, climate control thingys, the linkage in the passenger door that allows it to be opened from the inside, headlights, license plate lights…

Stuff like that is expected in a well-used truck that is 12 years old with 191k miles.

So inspection came along this year and to my sheer amazement it passed quickly and with no repair needed other than a new brake light. Shortly after though… Check engine light came on. I pulled the codes, EVAP system (again!?) and O2 sensors. Again – wear and tear, expected.

Life got in the way of the maintenance, I’d planned on getting it another oil change at some point and also getting the O2 sensors sorted. Then out on a drive in the fields a month or so back, the 4WD failed and a big warning said “SERVICE 4WD SOON.” Crap.

I finally decided to bring it in with a short list… Check out the 4WD, change the oil, replace the O2 sensors, and fix the clunking up front. Prior to that, I replaced the vapor canister by the fuel tank which managed to fix the EVAP issues altogether and let me pump gas in 1 go.

The way the EVAP system works (this is my truncated version), fumes from the fuel tank are vented into the engine at certain points to be burned during combustion. In the mean time, those fumes are collected in a plastic container full of charcoal. In my case? it was clogged.

Any time I attempted to fill the tank (and it was less than half full) it would repeatedly stop. Last year I replaced most components of the EVAP system except for the canister, which improved the situation and shut off the CEL, but now it was finally fixed.

After a day with the mechanic he gets back to me and points out that the front brakes are almost done. Again – I trust this guy. I’ve been to mechanics in the past who told me a car needed new brakes after I’d just done them a week prior… so he took care of that as well.

He’d looked up the code for my 4WD warning and determined that it was most likely caused by the switch on the dashboard. In order to save a few bucks I picked up a new switch from rockauto.com and installed it myself. That takes us to the second part of this tale…

I’ve lived in Pine Island for 20 years now. For most of those 20 years, I’ve used the fields as a shortcut to get around or just unwind. I’ve found that driving down a farm road in my old truck, putzing along at 15mph is very cathartic. So after replacing the switch, I drove out.

Then I was greeted by a bunch of “Private Property” signs. First time in 20 years I’d seen anything like it. “Nobody is allowed to drive on our roads.” What? I took a lap of the fields then drove out, thankfully no more 4WD warning (yet). I decided to ask around…

Apparently the sod farm had recently seeded the blackdirt, and a group of off-roaders (not in trucks, more like side-by-sides, quads, dirtbikes, etc…) tore up the actual fields. That’s the thing which really annoys me. 99.9% of the time out here, it is peaceful and quiet.

That .1%? It’s usually folks who don’t actually live here, or don’t have any relationship with the farming community treating the back roads and fields like their own private off-road course. I’ve had a handful of incidents on my own little .34 acre plot, most of which due to off-roaders.

Early on, some kid tore across my lawn on a dirt bike. The fact I chased him down in a Subaru Legacy on summer tires doesn’t speak well to his skills. I’ve had quads (and the occasional car) rip through my corner fence. One time a snow-mobile even cut through my driveway.

I’d really like to believe that the people who pull this nonsense are not locals. It’s one thing to cut across my lawn, its another to destroy a farmer’s livelihood for the lulz. I can only pray that the individuals have a moment of clarity and wisdom, and cut the crap.

In the mean time – the truck has new brakes, O2 sensors, upper and lower ball joints, oil and filter, and the 4WD works. In the spring I’ll likely pull the rotting bed an build a wooden flat-bed, in addition to new tires, spark plugs, wires, trans service, etc… always something to do.

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