Diy Maintenance | My Black Brick

My Black Brick

Keeping a '92 Volvo 240 Wagon on the Road & Other Automotive & DIY Musings

Battery Installation Animation

I changed my battery a few years ago and documented the work in drawings. This little animation walks you step by step through the process.

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Car Maintenance App Documents My Inefficiency


I’ve been using the app “Car Minder Plus” for the past year and a half to document my gas mileage and repairs. It allows me to enter a garage of different cars and keep track of maintenance and service. Since I don’t have a fuel gauge it helps me keep track of how many miles I’ve gone since the last fill up, then shows my overall fuel mileage over 3 months, one year and lifetime.

This charts MPG over the course of 18 months. Note the dip after AMM broke.



Whenever I have a problem with the car I document it in the app so I have dates and mileage of when the problem occurred. I can also enter the expected time and mileage between services so they will come to my attention later and show me how dreadfully behind I am on my maintenance schedule.

My mileage is low enough that it's the date intervals that trigger the red light, not always mileage. Each of these items and their intervals can be set by the user.


These screen shots document the problem I had with my air mass meter. In the first you can see my mileage dive from over 20 mpg to below 15 mpg after I stalled in flood waters last August. I was pumping out unburned fuel for months before the problem was diagnosed and fixed. I was sure to document it all for future reference.

The "Repairs" area allows you to document anything and everything that happens to your ride.

Each repair item records date, mileage and your notes.


A bonus for “Car Minder Plus” is that you can email all your records from you iPod or iPhone. They come in a PDF file that you can print and hand to a mechanic if need be. Overall a useful app, I just have to be careful not to get my iPod Touch covered in motor oil and PB Blaster.

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Change your Spark Plugs

I change my plugs, cap and rotor last weekend and had a little bit of help. I documented on video so you can do it too. Please consult a professional as I can’t be liable for anything you break.

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No more smog

I finally brought the brick in for service after giving up on diagnosing the emissions problem. Turns out I had a bad air mass meter and I had it replaced. I thought the diagnostics box was broken but it turns out that it just needed to be reset with a bunch of button holds and clicks. D-oh! Would have been good to know that before.

Once fixed the car doesn’t lag, gets good mileage and passed NJ inspection. I took the opportunity this weekend to replace the plugs, cap and rotor. Above are the old plugs. They didn’t look too bad after 36k miles.

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Filling the Fuids

My daughters helped me with maintenance last weekend by filling the wiper fluid and coolant. I took some pics and make an animated gif.

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At least my nose is clean


The weather was pleasant this weekend for checking out my oily crank. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to enjoy a leisurely cruise down the boulevard because of the mega oil leak.

I await a call from DB Volvo on my minor catastrophe. I drove the brick cautiously along the inner loop of the beltway from Braddock Rd. to Route 66 and Don Beyer Volvo, belching plumes of smoke whenever I went over 40 MPH or 2000 RPM. After a short wait I was told none of the mechanics who worked Saturday would be able to service and I’d need to wait till Monday. I was fortunate enough to get a ride from my mother back up to NJ w/ the kids.

Here are shots of some of the work I did. I got plenty of “before” shots but was so beat at the end that I didn’t get a good pic of the new seals and timing belt. I did get one of the old and new covers though.

Here’s a view of how the seals looked when I took the pulleys off, then after I’d removed the seals and cleaned the front end. At least I’ve got a new tension roller.

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Still leaking, worse than ever

After a day of rope tricks and greasy fingers I finally changed the front seals, timing belt, covers and V belts, only to have what looks to be a worse leak than before. I drove the brick for about 5 minutes then opened the hood. There was a trickle of oil leaking out of the timing belt cover and upon opening it up I saw all the work I did basking in hot oil.

I figured I’d give it another run, so this time I drove on a higher speed boulevard until I started smelling something burning. I looked in the rear view and there was a cloud of smoke trailing me. I was driving in a loop and pulled the car back into the driveway and checked the dipstick. It looks like I went through a 1/2 quart in about 4 miles. Wonderful.

I’ve got an appointment at Don Beyer Volvo, Falls Church, VA for 8AM tomorrow. I just can’t go through this crap again, especially since I can’t tell where the leak is coming from. They’re offering 15% off service for cars over 120k miles. Lucky me.

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Front Crankshaft seal: Pushed too far?

This is cross-posted on the Brickboard

I’m replacing the cam/int/crankshaft seals because of a slow oil leak I’ve had for a while. When I put the smaller seals in they went in fine and I have them in about 1/16″ from the outside.

The crankshaft seal went in a little too easily and when I slid it in one side went in about 1/4″ from the edge. I was able to even it out by lightly tapping with a piece of wood but I’m concerned it went in so easily and am afraid it might be in too far. I lubed it on the inside rim w/ vasoline and outside w/ 10w30. Did I screw up? Did it go past the housing? It’s an orange colored seal from FCP.

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My Oily Crank

Click image for larger view. I’ll be shoving my face in here over the next couple weeks. There’s an oil leak somewhere in front of the engine, possibly busted seals on the crank or cam shaft. Oils been spraying over the engine bay for about a year. I’ve been using Castrol high mileage and I’m not losing too much oil anymore. But I’m gonna bust in and install new seals, gaskets, belts and covers. I may even throw in a new horn.

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5 Years Later, Previous Investments Pay-Off

Last year I totalled my expenses and found I averaged $2177 a year to buy and maintain the brick, not including gas and insurance. This year, things are looking better.

READ MORE…

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