Oh, this is a good one.
So I was sitting here yesterday, nice and peacefully, working away when I received a phone call from my better half. She told me that the exhaust on her 1999 Honda Civic had fallen down and was dragging on the road. I asked if the open side was facing the front of the car or the rear. I wanted to know, because if it was facing the rear, she could drive the car, but if it was facing the front, she couldn’t. Being the smart lady she is, she had already looked and it was facing the front. Oh, lucky me.
The minute I got off the phone, I quickly put my cape on and ran downstairs to load up the car. I put my floor jack, a blanket and some string (I couldn’t find any wire) in the back of the car. I also grabbed some cutters. I raced down the road and drove for about two miles. Luckily, this all happened just as she turned off the main road, onto the back road we almost live on.
When I arrived, she was sitting in the car, chatting on the phone. She kind of gave me a smile and a wave. Man, remember the good ol’ days when people were hysterical when they were stuck on the side of the road? Not any more. Now, people pull out a lawn chair to grab a quick tan.
Anyway, I pulled my jack out and jacked up the car. I noticed that there really wasn’t anything to tie the pipe up to. The pipe was cold, so I just wrapped some string around it and pulled it towards the nearest fixture. I let her drive my car back to the house and I drove hers.
I have to tell you this…when I was pulling up the road at about 3 miles per hour, her car was very loud. It brought me back to the days when I used to drive cars like this…on purpose. What a silly time of my life. I felt like I was 16 again. I pulled in the driveway and was very happy to turn the thing off.
Earlier in the year, we made a decision that we weren’t going to fix the next big repair on this car. We were going to somehow get the car to the dealer, trade it in and buy a new one. There was a little part of my brain that wanted this to happen. I thought I had better at least look under the vehicle to see if this was going to be a big repair or a little one. One never knows with exhaust systems.
When I peeked under the car, I saw that the pipe between the one that comes down from the catalytic converter and the muffler pipe had broken in half. The pipe actually looked fine, it was the weld that rusted right through, or the area right next to the weld. While laying on the ground, I yelled out, “I can fix it!!!” I didn’t want to fix it, but I wanted the world to know that I, in fact, could fix it.
A few minutes later, I found myself on the phone ordering a new pipe, gaskets and bolt kits from NAPA auto parts down in Colchester. Everything came up to around $129. Not bad.
I told Laura about it and she thought that was just great. She really doesn’t drive the car all that much anymore, so the longer it lasts, the better. As I was sitting there telling her about it, I said, “I think it might be a good idea if I make sure I can get the old part off before I really commit to fixing this thing.” She agreed and we hit the garage.
I must tell you that working on a car in a garage is a little better than working on a car on a gravel driveway in the cold (like our old place). For some reason, every time something goes wrong with a car, it’s always during the winter. I have flashbacks of me changing the transmission of my Honda Prelude in the middle of a very cold February out in the driveway – in the dark. Those were the good ol’ days. I can still remember what sand and gravel feel like stuck to the back of my head. That really was a horrible, horrible time. Last night, working in a garage with warmth and a nice drop-light was certainly welcomed.
I had a little trouble getting the bolts off the exhaust joints. In the front, they were totally rusted on. In the back, they weren’t rusted at all, they just wouldn’t turn for anything. Good thing I had my trusted reciprocating saw. I cut the first bolt off and tried to get the second. When I realized the saw wasn’t working for the second bolt because I chewed all the teeth off the blade, I used my trusted grinder. What a treat. I buzzed that sucker right off and down fell the front part of the pipe.
The back was another story. I tried to grind the bolts off the back and they were giving me a really tough time. I got the bright idea that if I just cut the pipe and pulled the whole muffler off, I could work a heck of a lot easier away from the car. I did just that. I pulled the muffler off and clamped it down in new Wilton 5″ multi-purpose vise. I easily ground the bolts right off and was left with a nice easy project. I went inside and told Laura about my success.
This morning, I ran down to the auto parts store to pick up the parts. I came back, jacked her car up and replaced the pipe. It took about a half hour and that was because most of the time was taken jacking up the car and putting safety blocks under it. That’s always such a necessary pain in the butt. The pipe looks good though and the car is nice and quiet now. I am quite proud of myself.
Now, if that rusty front pipe goes, time for a new car. That pipe is attached to the catalytic converter and those bolts are really on there.