Simon Dean
Mechanic
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Mechanic
What the hell is this doing here? How the hell can a computer programmer be a mechanic? Alas, it is true. I might not be the most proficient mechanic in the world, but I am willing to give it a try and get my hands dirty.

Much to the dismay of others, I constantly perform maintenance work on my car by changing the spark plug leads, the rotor, distributor cap, spark plugs, oil, oil filter etc.

My first car, my pride and joy, was a Nissan Cherry. A sweet little car that died before its time. The engine started smoking and plumes of smoke came out of the exhaust on start up. You could leave the car unlocked over night and no one would touch it. I think I damaged the engine when I tried to race a cyclist, and overtaking a bus I seem to recall doing 50 miles an hour in second gear. The greatest thing about this car is that it held the road superbly. The driving style, and the feel was fantastic. The steering seemed so responsive, point the car where you wanted to go, even down a bumpy road and you did not have to adjust the steering to compensate. The brakes were brilliant. Maybe I am just thinking on this car fondly, as it was my first car. However it was better than my next car, a Rover 216 where the brake discs kept warping, the brakes went funny, and the car seemed to wobble down the road. Compare that again to my Nissan Primera now, that really behaves so well.

It was on my Nissan Cherry that I first started my tinkering. I changed the spark plugs, changed the oil, changed the radiator water, changed the distributor cap and rotor. I fitted my first radio by cutting a hole in the dash, and soldering the radio harness into the car's wiring loom. Then came installing speakers into the doors, drilling holes, routing wires. Yes it was fun. I once (and only once) took the car to get it tuned up. Robbing crooks. I was young and načve at the time. They wanted to change basically everything on my car that I had changed previously, things like the air filter and spark plugs. They fitted a spark plug that was a bit leaky, water would get into it and stop it from working. I had a loss of power, and figured this out by removed each spark plug lead in turn and found that one cylinder was not firing. Replaced the spark plug and everything was fine. Went back to the garage and demanded a ú2.50 refund for the spark plug. Also on my Nissan Cherry, I changed the Intermittant Windscreen Wiper Relay unit.

Then came my Rover 216. What a pile of crap it was. Being fair, the car lasted, but it had a problem with the brakes. I changed the brake discs and brake pads, but the discs kept getting warped, the discs kept getting scored. I had the water pump changed at Halfords after it developed a leak. Then every so often, the heater matrix would clog. I found out I could 'reverse flush' the cooling system by disconnecting one of the water hoses, connecting a hosepipe to one side and turning on the water. Out of the other end came a mass of brown sludge, or rust. The heater started working again for a few months. I also undertook another ambitious project - fitting an alarm. I traced all the wiring components of the car with the help of the Haynes manual. It was scary cutting into all the ignition wires, but it worked. I fitted it during a couple of lunch times at work in the car park. However the alarm wasn't great. A gnat would fly past, and the alarm would go crazy. When I turned the sensitivity down, the alarm never sounded. I called moss, and they instructed me to close all the air vents too!!! That didn't do a thing. So I ended up stripping the alarm out of the car, and sending everything back for a full refund since the alarm was unusable. Other projects I have undertaken, was to change the radiator after a leak, strip down the front end to change the slam panel, bumper, bonnet, headlight and indicator. quite a bit of this happened when I was at work.

SR20De Engine Now onto my Nissan Primera. Again, I have changed the usual things, oil, oil filter, distributor cap, rotor, spark plug wires, spark plugs (Bosch Super 4). The car was behaving badly, jerking between the change from second to third gear (its an automatic) at about 3000 revs. So I took the car to Colliers Nissan in Acocks Green. They diagnose the problem down to a faulty TPS (Throttle Position Sensor). Getting the car back, the car fails to stay in lockup and keeps jumping in and out. Taking the car back to Colliers, the service manager tells me that "Its Normal, Nothing Wrong". I end up having an argument with him telling them that he knows squat. So I end up taking my car to WestWay Nissan in Coventry. They hook it up and notice that the TPS that Colliers changed has been setup incorrectly. They set the base TPS voltage to near enough the correct value (unfortunately Westway did not know that there was a top and bottom screw on the TPS - they only saw the top screw). But fortunately, WestWay fixed the lockup problem by correctly adjusting the TPS with the value from the Nissan Service Handbook. Taking the car back to Colliers, the Service Manager ends up apologising and offering me a free valet. Unfortunately, Colliers still were unable to rectify the original fault, but right now, I can't be bothered. I havent noticed the problem too much as of late. I may end up writing direct to Nissan and putting in a big complaint if the problem rears its ugly head again.

Erm, OK, this has turned from a list of my talents to a scathing attack on Nissan. Cutting a long story a little shorter, I was able to correctly adjust the TPS myself, by taking the back off one of the TPS plugs, attaching three strands of wiring, attaching a multimeter, and then setting the TPS to the correct value.

(C)2003 - Simon Dean