Monday, January 15, 2018

1983 Pontiac Grand Prix - We Can Practical Too

 
We met a young woman recently who had just purchased a brand new, 2018 GMC Terrain. And she was thrilled with it. When we told her that we found it funny that someone as young as she was would aspire to own what was essentially a modern version of a minivan, we call them cross overs, GM insists on calling them "SUV's", she didn't bat an eye which we found even more interesting and confounding. It's as if she could care less that anyone would construe her as a "soccer mom" based on what she drove. It's not the first time that we've come across a millennial so nauseating healthy in their own self awareness.
 
   
 
When we were her age we aspired to drive nothing of its ilk for two reasons. First and foremost, we simply liked other types of vehicles more and secondly, back then, driving a "soccer mom" vehicle was a big no-no. The types of cars we liked were nothing less than "sporty" personal luxury cars like this 1983 Pontiac Grand Prix LJ. Motivated, if barely, by a god's green earth, 140 horsepower, 305 cubic inch Chevrolet V-8.  This was the more than perfect steed to tell the world that we was ready to mingle. Watch out ladies, here we come. Landau top, 2.29 rear axle and all. For those keeping score at home, the Chevrolet small block made it's first ever appearance in a Pontiac in 1983.
 
 
Nowadays, here at "Crawling From the Wreckage", we fawn all over cars like this old Grand Prix and even we can tell that we're woefully out of touch with what millenials aspire to drive. That matters about as much to us of course as millenials being concerned about what we drive but it does underscore a generation gap of sorts. Millenials are profoundly more practical than we are based on what they aspire to drive.  
 
 
 
We like spatially inefficient, clumsily styled gas guzzlers. Millenials, on the other hand, like utility based vehicles large enough to haul around a small army. Back in our day, if you wanted to load up on the passengers, we made them have to do a gymnastic maneuver to get "back there". With today's do-it-all cross overs, sorry, again, the GMC Terrain and it's kissing cousins Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave are crossovers not "SUV's", all "they", (millenials) have to do is roll a seat forward and voila, additional rear seating. Incidentally, the challenges of gaining access to the rear seat in cars like our Grand Prix here is no doubt why so many of them that are still around today have rear seats that are in showroom condition.  
 
 
 
General Motors had no less than four "personal luxury cars" like our GP to choose from in 1983 and  a total of eight of them if you count those high falutin front wheel drivers from Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac. GM also had a plethora of two door variants of their four door sedans. Today, General Motors makes but one "coupe" version of one of their four door sedans; a less than satisfyingly styled two door version of their Cadillac ATS that's about as fetching as a two door, 1996 Camry. Thanks, but no thanks.
 
 
The personal luxury car died off years ago and these days, it looks like even four door sedans are being shoved to the discount rack to make room for more utility based, practicality first and foremost cross overs. But, y'know, just to show these young whipper snappers that we're not all about style over substance, our Grand Prix did come with a fairly sizable trunk. See? We can be practical too.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2000 Jaguar XK8 - New Year's Resolution


One of our New Year's Resolutions this year was to blog about vehicles as though we were working for an auto rag and having to arduously plow through numbers and facts on vehicles that were as interesting as dishwashers; the occasional red crayon the exception rather the norm. We believe we started the year off splendidly discussing Chevrolet's new Traverse but then again, we more than like that thing so that doesn't count. So, like a last slice of pie, drag on a cigarette, shot of whiskey or curse word dropped, let's do one last vehicle we adore before we dive into our New Years Resolution head first and "do one" that we're surprised we hadn't "done" before, a first generation Jaguar XK8 convertible. Perhaps, the most beautiful car to come out of the 1990's here or there.
 

As the proud owners now of identical 1996 Chevrolet Camaros not to mention a 1977 Chevrolet Corvette, there are few people who know of the ups and downs of old car ownership better than we do. Still, we should know better than to get all misty-eyed "what if" over a ticking time bomb like this 2000 Jaguar XK8 convertible for sale just down the road in lovely Columbus with an asking price a mere $5,300. What could go wrong?


Well, plenty but not nearly as much as what could go wrong if this were an older Jaguar. These big, bold and beautiful 1996-2006 XK's with a smattering of Ford DNA in their bones were known to be somewhat more reliable than Coventry Cats of yore. We'll never know for sure but if we had five grand burning a hole in our pocket we'd be hard pressed not to lay it down on this versus a "C5" Corvette of similar vintage.

 
 
Introduced for 1996, these early XK8's were a stunner. They still are. That's saying a lot too considering they're convertibles - usually not our favorite vehicle type but there's something particularly alluring about these cars with the top up versus down. We love the coupes too but not nearly as much. Part of the cache of the design of these cars came from the very subtle retro touches that transcend time and place. Note the front grill and huge bulge - pure XKE. A what? Exactly.


 
Despite using a considerable amount of bits and pieces underneath of the then current XJ sedan, the XK was a remarkable departure and upgrade from the car it replaced, the XJS. One of the most radical changes was Jaguar's first ever V-8 engine. Only the fourth "clean sheet" engine design in Jaguar's history, this engine, known internally at Jaguar as the "AJ-V8", would eventually replace all six and twelve cylinder Jaguar engines. Engineered and designed by Jaguar, with considerable oversight and input from then parent company Ford, it shares literally nothing with any Ford engine despite being assembled in a Ford factory. Suffice to say Ford didn't trust Jaguar to build their own engine properly.
 
 
 
So, what could go wrong with an automobile so beautifully designed, assembled and with regards to this one down in Columbus, seemingly so well maintained? It has only 64,421 miles on her. Again, for $5,300 what could possibly go wrong?
 
 
 
This car reminds me of my late friend Dan's "$2,000, $1,000 1984 BMW 528". Years ago a friend of his sold him an '84 528 for $1,000. It looked perfect but mechanically it needed some attention. Every time Dan took it to the local BMW dealership for service he got a bill for at least $2,000, hence his $2,000, $1,000 car. His ownership experience with that BMW wasn't the only story we've heard about how expensive BMW's can be to maintain when they're out of warranty. Dan wasn't above doing work on his car himself but with foreign cars, many times what's straight forward on an American car can be vexing. Also, the price of parts can be out of this world expensive. We shudder to think what it would cost for a new canvas top on our XK8 here. Good thing the current owner has done it for us already. Question though, no pictures of the car in the ad with the top down.  The mechanical mechanisms for these tops are notorious for breaking down. Quite the oversight considering the attention to detail the owner put into posing the car for pictures. Who knows if they did or not. Columbus is lovely so maybe it's their backyard. Does make us wonder though.
 
 
Well, let's just assume that it was an oversight as opposed to a bargaining chip to get the price down lower. This car is priced appropriately - Jaguars have always been good bargains compared to what they're targeted against and that more than likely exacerbates depreciation. Enlightened buyers are also fearful of maintenance costs like we are. Let us know what you think of this big old Cat if you're so inclined to take a traipse to bucolic mid-Ohio and take it for a spin or more. If it works out for you with nary a problem and you got it for less than the asking price we'll be purr-fectly green with jealousy. Happy New Year.
 

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Tale of Two Chevies - When It Snows It's a Blizzard

 
 
The "newer" of our identical 1996 Chevrolet Camaros hadn't given us any trouble since we bought it about a year ago until the "V.A.T.S" system started acted up when the cold weather hit a couple of weeks ago. The GM "V.A.T.S", an acronym for "vehicle anti theft system" or "Pass-Key", was a redundant theft deterrant system where the ignition key not only had to match the ignition cylinder, the resistor in the key had to match what the car's "PCM", program control module, was looking for. If the PCM "thinks" that the car is being stolen, the car can't be started. Problem is when the system gets wonky, even when you have the correct key in the ignition, sometimes, and in particular since the cold weather hit recently, the car thinks its being stolen. While the car does start up sometimes after you wait ten minutes for the system to reset, it's consistent in doing so. The car, therefore, is unreliable. I doubt that the cold weather has anything to do with the problems we've been having but the timing is  a little fishy.
 

 
With our older son heading back to Dayton this coming weekend, he would have taken the "newer" Camaro down there but with the VATS acting up, I made the executive parenting decision that he would take the older Camaro down there instead. A bit of a hassle considering it needs an alignment, a muffler and the headliner needs to be repaired but at least the VATS doesn't act up on it. What's more, with my being out of town this week, getting everything done would fall on my 19 and 20 year old sons. Not the best of plans. Well, the alignment getting done and the muffler being replaced would. My plan for the falling down headliner would be just to cut the damn thing out until I get a new one. Again, it's always something.
 

 
I turned over the "old" Camaro yesterday, we call it the old Camaro because we bought it first and it's three or four months older than the other one, just to get it running and I'll be damned, there was a massive frozen puddle of something on the driveway. Fearing the worst, that it could be another coolant leak, after I checked the coolant level and saw that it was topped off, I took the car for a spin through our lovely neighborhood just to see if I could get the temperature up on it and sure enough, all good and the car responded as well as it always has except...for a faint smell of gas.
 
 
I got it home and got under it and saw that it was leaking gas! from its rusted out metal fuel lines right under the driver's seat. Good lord. So now both of our Camaros are off line until further notice. I totally get now how some people have multiple cars on their property all of which are not running. "They'll get around to fixin' 'em..." Thing is, do they?
 
 
 
The plan now is for our son to drive my Monte Carlo to Dayton and my wife and I will be a one car household until we get the Camaro's sorted out. I'm confident that we will but it's amazing how things converge on top of one another. When it rains it pours or in this case, when it snows it's a blizzard.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

2018 Chevrolet Traverse - Rip Van Winkle

 
After I picked up the new hood latch for our Tahoe at the Chevrolet dealership near our home here in Cleveland, I spotted a new for 2018 Chevrolet Traverse sitting in the showroom. As much as a car as I am, it wasn't the first time I'd been somewhat smitten by a crossover; a vehicle segment that, in my opinion, has some of the most interesting designs available today.


Chevrolet sells a full line of crossovers including the compact "Trax", the mid size Equinox, which to our eyes looks every bit as large as the range topping Traverse. Then you have your traditional full size, truck based SUV's, the Tahoe and Suburban.
 

I'd be curious to know why someone would buy a Tahoe over a Traverse considering the interior space is very similar although, I'm not so sure a Traverse would pass my 4 X 8 sheet of plywood test like my Tahoe dies but seriously, how many times do I need a vehicle that big? Also, the step up to a Tahoe from even the top-of-the-line Traverse is astronomical which is saying a lot because a a loaded Traverse is not cheap. By the way, there hasn't been a mid size Chevrolet SUV since the Trailblazer bit the dust in 2009 and Chevrolet and GM have not peddled a mini van, which the Traverse and Equinox spiritually are, since 2008. I feel like Rip Van Winkle when I think about that. Where have a I been?


Like the most recent Ford Explorer, the interior of the Traverse is cavernous and gorgeous. The fit, finish and detail of design are down right luxurious too. It's so nice I'd be compelled to dress up just to go to the supermarket and feel bad scuffing it up during a lumber run. Yes. Seating for up to eight but just as in our 2006 Tahoe, the jump seats way out back are best for little ones. And who'd want to sit back there anyway with no sun roof? By the way, and c'mon GM you're being misleading, you can't get the eight passenger seating with this fetching leather lined cabin. You want seating for eight you have to go down a level in trim and you can't get these seats; cloth only. Also, to get back to the third road seating on "High Country" Traverse models like the one pictured, only that right rear "captain's chair" folds forward to allow passengers an easier way to get back there. Mom and Dad, keep that in mind when you're juggling the kids and packages in the mall parking lot.


The top of the line Traverse "High Country" comes with a full array of today's modern safety, infotainment and off-roading features that help push the price of one to nearly, you sitting down? $53,000. That, friends, is a proverbial ess-ton of money for what amounts to little more than, again,  a fancy, schmancy, modern minivan. Mini-vans have always been more expensive than cars but 53 grand is a ton. Speaking of tons, our loaded Traverse here tilts the scales at nearly two and half of them yet can go from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and still manages a respectable 21 miles per gallon. That's impressive considering this thing weights the same as a '72 Cadillac deVille. Thank automatic start/stop for that. That's where the engine shuts off at red lights and instantly turns on when you take your foot off the brake. The Ford Explorer I drove recently had it and while I found it to be the weirdest thing at first, I quickly got used to it.


As much as I like the new Traverse I'd always feel that it's a 7/8 Tahoe and I know myself, if I sprung for one of these I'd always be pining for a Tahoe. Either way, both are very, very expensive. How the hell are people affording these things? Perhaps my wife and I are more financially conservative than most, go ahead, call us cheapskates, but at $53,000, before tax, tags and other ancillary nonsense, that works out to well north of a $1,500 a month over 36 months and more than $760 over 72 months. Sorry. That's just crazy. What's a $50,000 Traverse going to be worth in three or four years? Especially if you pile on the mileage. A thirty six month lease with no money down will probably run you in the neighborhood of $725 a month. For a rental. You can't win so that's why you should always buy used.


Spend your money they way you want. For my money, I'd scoop one of these up in two to four years and pay maybe $22,000 for it. If I'd have to go new, I'd just as well spring for a fully loaded 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V-6 and rent something like this whenever I needed more room. I'd pocket the $15,000, sock it away or blow on a trip to Hawaii.  

Monday, January 1, 2018

Car Shopping - Damn I'm Good

 
 
The other morning the wife suggested we spend the day shopping for something to replace our 2006 Tahoe to take advantage of zero percent financing manufacturers are shilling these days. After the initial shock wore off and my panic attack about spending any more time than we need to outside simmered down, damn it's been cold and snowy, it dawned on me that this could be a painful time suck since we have no idea what we would be shopping for.  
 
While our paid off in full Tahoe has just under 120,000 miles on it, not bad for a 12 year old vehicle, it's a tad rusty underneath, it's terrible on gas, the check engine light is on and lastly and probably most importantly, it's looking horribly out of fashion with other vehicles that my wife sees in the parking lot of the Cleveland Clinic facility she works at literally around the corner from our home here in Cleveland. That reason enough to ditch it? After all, two kids in college and no car payments. If you ask me, hell no but it is the wife's ride. Happy wife as they say, happy life.
 

 
My greatest concern in replacing something for the sake of replacing something is ending up with another "soul less rental car" like the Ford Taurus we bought back in 2002. We bought that car thinking "value first" and we thought we did quite well dropping nearly $23,000 on what we considered a luxury car back then. It quickly fell out of favor not because it wasn't reliable, it was bastion of yeoman like dutifulness, it was because it quickly failed to ignite any emotional response in my wife and I; we found it boring. While that car became my daily driver for a while years ago, I got rid of it first chance I could replacing it with my current Monte Carlo that I'm as in love with today as the day I brought it home for the first time. I probably should have held onto the Taurus for another couple of years if not more but such was my contempt for it. Shame too, again, considering what a stalwart it was.
 
My job in the eventual process of replacing the Tahoe is to gently and lovingly inform my wife of any and all options. Of which there certainly is no shortage. What'll it be? Another Tahoe? Perhaps a lovely little sports sedan? A crossover maybe? These days deciding on what type of vehicle to purchase is more important than which make and model of the type of vehicle you've honed in on.
 

 
Like many women, my wife is partial towards today's swankily styled crossovers, not hard to see why considering that vehicle segment has some of the best looking designs on the road today. The other day I was in the Chevrolet dealership near our home, I was picking up the hood latch for the Tahoe, and I was transfixed by the new for 2018 Chevrolet Traverse. Although derivatively styled and as hard to decipher as a 1937 Plymouth is from a 1938 Pontiac, I almost passed out when I saw the $48,000 window sticker. My god, who's buying these things anyway? My math works out monthly payments at $700 and that's over 72 months. 48 months you're looking at $1041 a month for a depreciating asset. Where have we been that prices for family cars has more than doubled over the last fifteen years? Yes. Crossovers are more expensive than sedans but c'mon now. This is ridiculous. Not that we'd be shopping "new" but, again, wow. Let's shop these little family trucksters in a couple of years when the values have dropped by more than half.
 
 
Her jaw dropped when I told her about the Traverse and she then asked me if I wanted to see a movie that night. Mission accomplished, I got her off the subject. Damn I'm good. Happy New Year.
 
 
 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

1972 AMC Javelin - Cool Kids


Let's face it, AMC's were always misfits. The bumbling dork in the back of class who was a spastic at sports, was socially awkward, couldn't fend for themself if their life depended on it and the worst was they weren't even very bright. But the 1971-1974 AMC Javelin was that woe-begotten sop's inexplicably cool sibling who somehow, someway, was able to figure most things out and was asked from time to time to sit at the "cool kid" table at lunch. They may even have gotten a wink or two from a cheerleader.
 
 
Note, we didn't say the Javelin's predecessor, the two passenger, hack sawed off 1968-1970 Hornet  Javelin got any gazes from senior class celebrities despite significant success in Trans-Am racing. Nope, at that cool kids lunch table of yore, the only thing that mattered was if you were cool; you ran the risk of being ostracized if you could actually do anything better than anyone else. That all changed for 1971 when the homely little Javelin got several injections of collagen and steroids and looked like it could do what it had been able to do before but sadly couldn't any more. Being cool never meant you actually were.
 
 
Welcome to the "cool kids" table, kid where you'll quickly find out that we really can't do anything but "be cool". And now that you're actually "cool looking" and can't perform like you used to because all that flashy new sheet metal is heavy and your engines have been emasculated just like ours have been you'll fit right in. You'll also find out that we're no better than you and suffer from all the insecurity and doubts that you do. Disillusioned much?
 
 
The Javelin was AMC's attempt to change it's prosaic, practical, boring and dowdy image and appeal to coming of age baby boomers who gravitated towards sporty "pony cars" like the Ford Mustang. The original two passenger Javelin didn't break any ground technologically and highly modified Javelins achieved considerable success in Trans-Am racing. Mattered little, though. Sales were middling at best and the whole notion of "win on Sunday, win on Monday" notion was a half assed in the first place. That may have been true for us car wonks but for the rest of the world? Who cared? Anyway, in a narrow market already dominated by Ford, GM and to some degree Chrysler, there was little room for another pony car  and from AMC of all places. Updated for 1971 with the bulging sheet metal and a vestigial rear seat like our Big Red '72  here, Javelin became more conventional in appearance and function and "fit in" better but it still sold just as poorly.
 
 
AMC manufactured the Javelin through the 1974 model year and they went back to their literal roots replacing it with a car atypical of what they'd long been famous for, the Pacer.  Sorry, you can take the pocket protector out of the man but you can't take the man out of the pocket protector. Perhaps the Javelin was uncool all along - just like all the cool kids were.



Friday, December 29, 2017

1964 Chevrolet Impala - Swagger


Like many, we're not fans of the current Chevrolet Impala because we find it, appliance like and frankly, ugly. We'll stop short though of saying that it's not worthy of the vaunted "Impala" nameplate because put up against any Impala that's come before it, it'll suck its doors off. However, for us at least, automobiles are more than highly efficient rolling dishwashers; they're tangible, physical, emotionally expressive extensions of either who we are or what we want the world to see us as. At the end of the day, though, cars are conveyances but as they've become increasingly perfect in their function, most today lack the purity of spirit that they once had - especially cars at he lower end of the price spectrum. Today, let's look at this 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS, in our humble opinion, the last Chevrolet Impala that embodied everything that pundits believe "Impala" stood for and that threw caution, common sense and practicality to the wind.
 

Before Ralph Nadar, before the IIHS, before the EPA, OPEC and insurance surcharges, styling was just about the only thing The Big Three were concerned about. Speaking of which, the reason why General Motors dominated the market like they did years ago was because, in general, their designs were better looking than anything from Ford or Chrysler. AMC had the 1971-1974 Javelin but aside from that they had nothing. Ford and Chrysler would, on occasion, have a desirable design or two, but by and large, GM's designs were far superior. Might sound like pure opinion, which in part it is, but based on sales, it's true. For certain, it wasn't because a Chevrolet Impala was a better car than a Ford Galaxie or Plymouth Fury but it was, again, as subjective as it may be, better looking. And while our '64 here pales in comparison to our beloved '61 bubble top, it's far and away more appealing to us than whatever derivatively styled bomb Ford or Chrysler was shilling at the time.
 
 
GM's big cars though were far from perfect. The 1961 Chevrolet's rode on top of General Motor's infamous X-frame that allowed designers to place the body of the car lower than ever on the frame. In an age of "longer, lower, wider", nothing bespoke of that quite like a GM "X"; many of the 1957-1964 X-frame GM cars are some of the most desirable of post War GM designs. Problem was, there were no frame rails outboard of the center of the frame. Despite the X frame being noticeably stiffer against twisting than any other contemporary frame, due to the center spine acting as a torque box, there was little to protect passengers from side impacts. As much as we hate to be construed as any harbinger of practicality but at the end of the day even the best looking of cars needs to be as safe as it can be. They also were never known as being the sveltest of handling vehicles either.
 
 
GM's design swagger carried over to the interior as well. The handsome, almost contemporary looking vinyl clad buckets and console available only on Impala's in "SS" guise. Chevrolet brochures bragged about how clearly laid out the instrument panel was adding that everything was in "easy reach". Seat belts, which automobile manufacturers were required to make at least available on automobiles starting in 1964, were standard on SS models, optional on other Impala models. By January 1, 1968 all vehicles sold in the United States were required to have seat belts for all sitting positions. Getting people to use them, of course, was something else entirely.
 
 
Begs the question then as to when did automobiles first start to become appliance like? We could argue that they've always been that to a certain degree given what they are, ultimately. However,  American cars in particular really didn't start to become the perfect but soulless appliances they are today until the late 1970's. What with increasingly stringent governmental regulations, downsizing and competition from perfectly engineered albeit appliance like cars and trucks from Japan, what they've become today was inevitable. We just wish somebody would combine the design ethos of the old days with the engineering nof today's cars.
 


2006 Chevrolet Tahoe Hood Latch - Mechanics Don't Make House Calls


I flooded our snow blower the other morning so as I waited for it "unflood", I wanted to do some poking around under the hood of our Tahoe to see if I could figure out what's what with our EGR system that's causing the check engine line to be on. When I pulled the lever to open the hood it wouldn't open at first. I pulled the lever harder and eventually it popped open but then it wouldn't latch closed. Blame this artic cold front that is pummeling a large part of the country, rust, age or what have you, but the bottom line is the latch was stuck in the open position and we had a vehicle that was dangerous to drive. Faced with only two options, mechanics, like doctors, don't make house calls, I could either call AAA for a tow and pay the subsequent gouging to have a shop fix it or, figure out how to fix yet another problem with one of our old vehicles myself. Not much to think about there.


Researching while panicking and swearing compound swear words to myself not being one of my super powers, I got to work as soon as my panic died down. I found that while there is some information on the Internet regarding replacing hood latches and even how to videos on what to do if your hood release breaks with your hood down, there's little information out there on what to do specifically for a 2006 Tahoe with a hood latch stuck open. I found this very helpful video about replacing a hood latch on a similar Chevrolet Silverado but it didn't have any information on how to diagnose what the problem was in the first place. As always with everything, determining what's wrong is the hardest part.


My greatest concern was that I stretched out the hood latch cable; what fun that would be to replace but how would I know if I did or not? Armed with a phlegmatic can of old WD-40, a hammer and a flat blade or "regular" screw driver, I sprayed and prayed as I hammered and pryed away at the darn thing. Nothing doing. Would not budge. Let's start over by starting with another latch.


I called the junkyard I use for parts but they had nothing. Advance Auto Parts would have nothing in until next week and at $79, Autozone would have something in the next day for $72, my online parts place had it for $32 but I'd have to wait 3-5 days or pay almost as much as the part costs to have it overnighted. Meanwhile the Chevy dealer in town would have one the next morning for $68. Not bad and how often is the dealership less expensive and more convenient than the local auto parts stores or Internet outlets? Not often and don't count on it happening again. Best was that when I went to the dealership to get the part they told me since I was a GM card holder that I had a $100 credit with them. I paid for the latch and also bought a really cool Chevy hoodie. Merry Christmas to me.


Putting the latch on was easier than I expected. Twenty, maybe thirty minutes into the project and I had the new latch ready to go. Closed the hood down onto the new latch and it locked down nice and tight. On first test of the new latch the hood popped open but wouldn't you know it, it was stuck in the open position. Turns out it was the cable all along. So, the one time I start with the easier fix, it was the tougher fix that needs to be done.

Always. Something.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2006 Chevrolet Tahoe ABS Hubs-Torque Wrench Throwing Mad



I had suspected all along that it was the ABS hubs that were causing the strange, intermittent "whiiir" like sound from in front of the driver's side dash on our 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe but I didn't know for sure. The fact that it didn't happen all the time, there was no signal or warning on the dash save for a "TRACTION ACTIVE" message that would some times, but not always, scroll on the bottom of the dash when it occurred, a dearth of information on the Internet about such things and diagnostic fees ranging from $100 to $150 at various shops in our area had us living with the problem since it really wasn't interfering with the way our Tahoe drove. Unlike on my 2002 Monte Carlo that had an "ABS" warning light telling me something was wrong, I had no way to really know what was making the sound.


Eventually, though, the sound got so bad that it was occurring just about every time we moved away from a stop. What's more, sometimes at intersections the brakes would be stuck on and we couldn't move. By chance, one day I hit the traction control button on the dash board turning the system off and it stopped not only the brakes from locking up but it got rid of the "whiiir" sound. Having changed the passenger side ABS hub on my Monte Carlo a while back, I knew that unplugging the system was quite simple so I did that as well on the driver's side ABS hub on the Tahoe and that too got rid of the sound and the locking brakes. I did the driver's side since the sound was coming from the driver's side. Just like turning the system off, though, that also meant the ABS and traction control system was turned off. The good news, though, was that I had pinpointed the problem to a problem with the ABS and traction control systems. Incidentally they're both different uses of the same system. After deducing that it was the ABS hubs I then proceeded to make a series of frustrating, time consuming mistakes.


First mistake I made was instead of replacing the wiring harness from the ABS pump to the driver's side ABS hub, like I had done with great success on my Monte Carlo a while back, I replaced the entire hub. Much to my chagrin the "whiiir" was still there.

Next mistake I made was that the next time the Tahoe needed an oil change I sprang for a diagnostic. An expense but at least a "pro" could tell me what was going on. Much to my surprise they said it was a bad driver's side ABS hub. Really? Wow. Ok, so I replaced the hub with a new one and I also replaced the wiring harness on the driver's side just to be sure. Keep in mind that it takes me more than two hours, gathering tools to putting them away, to do this swap. Time. Suck.


There were no words to tell you how upset I was when the "whiiir" sound and locking brakes were back and as bad as ever. What compounded my frustration was that the chain shop told me it was the driver's side hub that was bad. The hell, right?
 
It took me several weeks to cool off and muster the energy and resolve to replace the driver's side hub again but also the passenger side hub and pig tail. Again, at least two hours a side. I did the driver's side first, not sure why, and, god damn it to hell, the "whiiir" sound was still there. Torque wrench throwing pissed off mad, I then did the passenger side hub and pig tail and...you have got to be fucking kidding me, there was no more "whiiir" sound. And the locking up brakes were gone as well. Hallelujah.



Thing that probably upset me the most, aside from the fact that I now believe it was just a bad harness on the passenger side, was that the shop told me that it was a bad driver's side hub. It would easy to come to that conclusion on a test drive because the "whiiir" sound came from the driver's side but the fact is, that "whiiir" sound was the ABS pump itself going off after getting an erroneous signal to do so. The ABS pump is, yes, you guessed it, in front of the driver's side dash. Did they even put our Tahoe on their vaunted "scan tool"? I have to think they did not. They just heard the "whiiir" and came to the same conclusion that I did. Thanks, guys.
 

The bottom line is, and I've made this mistake before, try the easy, easier or simpler fixes first when working on a car or truck. Had I replaced the passenger side wiring harness or pigtail, chances are I would have saved my sell hours of back breaking work not to mention not have spent as much money as I did. Good news is our Tahoe has two brand new front ABS hubs and wiring harnesses. With regards to that shop, well, they're the same people who gouged me for diagnostics recently on the Monte so this is another reason not to go there any more.