Sunday, March 5, 2017

Reason # 4,678,942 Why Automotive Design Engineers Should Be Beaten Until Their Tongues Turn Blue

Did the water pump on the Wifely Unit's 2004 Ford Focus yesterday.
It turned into the usual complete fucking fiasco.
Front wheel drive of course, those are always a pain in the ass but some are even worse than you can imagine.
It's like someone purposely designed them for maximum difficulty at every step of the way.
Here's your first clue that you are in for it, when you get the best angle you can and look down to the inside of the frame rail and see an indentation pressed into it right in front of your target to remove.
That absolutely guarantees that there are clearance issues and they put that there to give you a microscopic bit of help.

Just for fun and what I have run into hundreds of times when working on Ford products, depending on the build date, there is more than one option as to what water pump and serpentine belt they stuck on the front of this 2.0 liter Twin Overhead Cam engine.
Because, you know, it's all about the money and who had the cheapest parts that would fit.

This worked fine for the water pump, not so much for the belt.
I called up to get what is known as P&A before I even opened my tool box.
Price and Availability.
The local parts house then informed me of the build date difference but assured me that either way, they had the parts in stock.

So I ran up there and got the parts but had to guess on the belt. Of course all the numbers on it were long gone.
The difference on the belt was determined by the diameter of the clutch pulley on the A/C compressor, which is nigh unto impossible to determine accurately because the fucking thing sits right directly behind the frame rail.
This picture shows you just how much room there is to do all this happy shit with the motor mount removed already.

Go ahead and try to measure anything down there, I would love to see it done.
Here is a shot from underneath, the A/C compressor is not quite in this shot.

Basically, you have to stick a floor jack under the oil pan, take the motor mount off and then work from the top and the bottom to get to everything. The water pump actually comes out the bottom. Getting the pulley off the water pump is a major accomplishment in it's own right.

As I was fighting that , it appeared that I could just take the power steering pump loose and snake it right out the top.
This is where I discovered that the engineer who designed this particular piece of equipment was a sadistic fucking asshole.
Notice that this picture was taken from below after I discovered by braille that I couldn't get a socket on the bottom left bolt from up top.

That hard line tube is DIRECTLY in front of the bolt.
Only a real fucking cunt would purposely design such a ridiculous fucking thing.
You ain't getting to that fitting without pulling the radiator.
This is why I will go to my grave believing that every mother fucking design engineer on the planet should have to spend six weeks straight, eight hours a day, taking apart and reassembling every fucking thing they think is such a neat idea on paper to get a healthy dose of reality and a better appreciation of a long lost concept called Serviceability.

It took me 4 1/2 hours to get that water pump changed after three trips to the parts house and there are only four little bolts holding it in.
The belt I guessed on turned out to be too short after an hour of fighting to get it on and I had to take it back and get the other one.

All this was done in between down pours, out in the driveway.
I had a moving blanket that I threw down to lay on whilst I fought this little battle.
Basically they want you to drop the engine out the bottom to get to anything on this bitch because that's how they put the car together from the factory.

Once again I am vividly reminded why I quit working on cars for a living well over ten years ago.
My lower back is fucking fried again from having to bend over almost double to get to everything. The only saving grace I can point to is the thousands of dollars in tools I still haven't given away yet that saved my ass yesterday.

The belt had jumped off the water pump pulley and the tensioner is way in the back on the bottom towards the firewall and right in front of the frame rail. I had to replace the belt anyway but it is a real bitch to get any kind of tool on to grab it and swing it.
I have four different types of special belt tensioner tools and they are worth their weight in gold.


  1. The engineers don't give a shit about how difficult it is to repair, only how fast it goes together on the assembly line. After about 12 years working as a Ford mechanic I came to my senses and got factory job. I'd rather walk the ditches picking up beer cans for a living than go back to turning wrenches.

    1. I was also a factory trained Ford technician, I went through the Ford ASSET program back in the early 90's and wrenched at a Lincoln/ Mercury dealership for ten years.
      When I finally had a belly full I was one lousy test away from being certified as a Ford Master Mechanic. I know exactly how you feel.
      Hate those sonsabitches with a passion and drive 33 year old El Camino.
      Fuck those computerized plastic soap bubbles.

    2. You should try talking with some of those design engineers, they're more politician than engineer. Their main motivation is covering their backsides and having plausible deniability of any problem that falls into the realm of their responsibility. Speaking as an engineer to tier 1 suppliers for more than 25 years.

    3. I actually did get a chance to talk to one in the flesh once, the guy who designed the fresh air intake at the bottom of the windshield on most Fords. We had all kinds of problems with water leaks and soaked carpets because it can dump a half inch of rain around here in fifteen minutes and the water drain at the bottom of the heater air box couldn't handle that much water.
      By the time I got done with that guy he was completely pissed off at me but I showed him exactly what the problem was by running a garden hose off the windshield and showing him the water coming inside from the heater vent because the heater air box filled up with water. Real world conditions that were more extreme than their controlled testing could duplicate. He was pissed because I told him he had designed a toilet bowl that wouldn't flush fast enough.
      I'm not real diplomatic sometimes.

  2. Oh, yeah.....BTDT!

    The only really "bad" car to work on that I ever owned was my little Fiat X 1/9. Some of the stuff was monumentally hard to get at, and what usually looked like the "easy" way to get at it (top or bottom) was actually the HARD way to get at it.

    I learned that real quick! If it looked easier from the top, do it from the bottom, and vice versa.

  3. Worse vehicle I ever worked on was a Ford Aerostar that had a 2.8l Mustang engine in it. Worked on it for a couple years (only car I had, and I had to fix anything bad) and swore that it was only a 5 cylinder, as I could not find the missing sparkplug.

    After getting rid of that beast (well, she did hit 100mph one night...) I found out from a Ford mechanic why shop repair quotes were always so high. You actually had to drop the motor completely to get to the 6th cylinder. While using 3 midgets and a herd of trained monkeys.

    The mechanic looked at me and said I was doomed to never successfully work on new cars as my hands were too large. Too large to work on cars? Seems they make cars to be assembled by women and foreign workers, who are all small handed, not XXXL baseball mitt hand people like me.

    Now, I loved my old late 70's Datsun B-210. I could reach every part easily, replace anything, and that car ran like a rusty, floorboards made of roofing shingles and silicon glue, white dream.

  4. I had to change an alternator on some kind of SAAB with a crosswise motor. The alternator was on the back of the engine. They didn't leave enough room, so you had to loosen up the motor mount bolts and move the engine... Meanwhile the power steering pump was front and center... Bastards. Last SAAB I ever worked on.

  5. Another automotive SAAB story.
    I did one of those once. Loved that belt set up. Not.
    Without doubt, THE WORST , THE MOST COMPLETELY RETARDED thing I have ever seen in over forty years of working on shit was a starter on a Buick that had a V-8 in it my neighbor bought used. The starter went out on it and we looked and looked for that fucking thing and couldn't find it.
    He had to call up a parts house to get the location.

    I kid you not.

  6. Whenever you have to choose between 2 parts, get them both and return the one that you don't need

  7. How is this for simplicity,
    Love my '78 CJ

  8. Try the WP on an Olds Quad 4.

    It's on the back lower right of the engine, and you have to take off the exhaust manifold to even SEE it.

    Or the starter....when you finally assemble the right combo to get to that top bolt (13 mm, short extension, universal, long extension and back it out, grab the duct tape and tape the long extension down, cause if the bolt falls out, you're phooked.....

  9. I was an automotive design engineer and I hear you loud and clear. I have a mechanic, farm equipment and race care background. Everything I designed took into account serviceability all the way up until I was told the goal was assembly not service. I was forced to do really stupid things in sacrifice to the assembly plant gods. I fought the good fight but lost many more than I won. Just so you know a lot of what you are seeing is a result of this!

  10. All this shit gets hung on the engines before they get dropped into the engine bay, so they don't give a shit how hard it is to do it with the engine *in* the engine bay. For some reason Ford and GM are infamous for this shit. I've been pleasantly surprised by the Chrysler cars I've wrenched on lately, they're not the easiest things to wrench but definitely not the nightmares of most modern cars. You could even change the light bulbs in a Chrysler minivan without removing the fenders, fender liners, and front bumper! (No, I'm not joking, that was what had to be done on one car to replace a burnt out headlight bulb!).

  11. Mail a letter to Ford Motor company. Simple.

    Dear fuckwit,

    etc etc.

    Never buying your shit again.

  12. Worst car I had was a ford escort. Worst piece of shit ever. I actually took it back to the dealer more than once. Asked for my money back and he wouldn't give it. I drove it to the factory. Took a shit in it and handed the keys to the nearest supervisor.
    He saw the turd and said, "!!!"
    I said "built ford tough".
    Like a fucking turd.


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