Sunday, August 8, 2010

'98 Ford F-150 loose gear shift and gear indicator

The gear shifter in my truck was a mess. The whole mechanism was sloppy, and it was almost impossible to get it to go into the right gear without overshooting the one I wanted. And the indicator was always pointing half a gear to the right.

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What gear is that? I was sure it'd be very expensive to fix.

But while I was in checking out the ignition switch problem I decided to see what I could do about this shifting problem.

Looking under the dash, here's what I saw:

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Not the best picture, but see the brass-colored plate with the pin and two torx screws? Those two screws were horribly loose, by at least 1/2"! I tightened them back up, and the shifting now as tight as it was the day I bought it.

Success!

And the gear shift indicator? Check out what else I saw under the dash:

IMG_0041.png


Turning that wheel adjusts the position of the gear shift indicator, left or right. A half-turn later and the indicator is in the perfect spot.

More success!

Total cost to me: $0, plus a few minutes finding a torx wrench, and several months of irritation not knowing the fix would be this easy.

Not everything is this easy to fix, but some things certainly are. Hope someone finds this useful someday.

'98 Ford F-150 won't start

Last Tuesday I went out to start my truck, turned the key and nothing. Lights all on on the dash, but no clicking or anything when I turned the key.

I learned a few things about how to troubleshoot the problem in the process, here's what I learned, i.e. what I'll do next time:
  1. Battery terminals? Battery terminals get corroded and end up with weak connections. If they look corroded, clean them (google is your friend here).
  2. Dead battery? Get your battery checked out. They go bad every few years, so this is a common problem.
In this case I learned that it wasn't the battery, so here's where it gets interesting.
  1. Bad starter? To check your starter, connect the two big terminals on the ignition solenoid with a screwdriver:
    IMG_0043.png
    (Watch out for sparks close to the battery.) If the starter turns over (acts like it wants to start), you know the starter's good.
  2. Bad ignition solenoid? To check the solenoid, disconnect the rubber coated solenoid wire off the solenoid (small wire attached in the center above the main terminals), then take a length of wire (#12 or bigger, maybe a coat hangar?) and connect the positive (+, red) post on the battery to that solenoid terminal. If it tries to start, your solenoid is good.
My solenoid was fine, so on to the ignition switch itself.
  1. Bad connection in the ignition switch? There's a hole underneath the ignition switch on the steering column that leads to the release pin.
    IMG_0045.png
    If you push that pin up (with a pen or coat hangar) while you turn the key to the "on" position the whole ignition mechanism will turn and then you can pull it out. Check the electric connections on the sides and make sure they're not loose/broken.
In my case, I pulled out the ignition switch then reseated it and the truck starts fine now. Loose connection in there I suppose.

I'm sure there are other things that can go wrong, but hopefully that'll help someone.

The value of a happy friend

happy-gubbs.jpgMental Floss this month cites a study* that found that if you add one "happy friend" to your life, that your probability of being happy yourself goes up by 9%, and that's worth about $45,000.

I still generally assert that happiness comes from keeping the commandments, but still, if those findings have any truth to them, I need to reassess my net worth.

I wonder if we should be actively trying to befriend happy people. If one happy person can make several new friends happy simultaneously, and they in turn, the world would obviously be a happier place.
* How Do I Put a Price on Friendship, Jul-Aug 2010, p21, citing a study in the British Medical Journal.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Does anyone read this thing?

views since Feb. 9, 2008