I finally pulled myself back from the insurance fraud ledge last month and got back in the garage. Replacing the fuel pump was easy enough, and I ordered the best gasket I could find to fix the transmission leak. While I was waiting for it to arrive, I decided I would replace the weepy, patched-in-several-places transmission cooler lines. I removed them (getting a nice coating of transmission fluid on both my legs and directly on my chest in the process) and eyeballed their length to get the appropriate replacements from the parts store. The plan was to turn these:
Into something resembling these:
Being that these were relatively thin 5/16 lines, I was able to bend them by hand without kinking them (for the most part). I could probably use another 4-6 inches on the one line for a prettier routing, but it doesn’t look too amateurish. I made sure the lines were clear of any moving suspension parts and weren’t rubbing on each other or anything hot. If anything else, that’s one less leak path to worry about.
The new transmission gasket still hadn’t arrived, and I was feeling pretty confident after that line-bending exercise, so I decided to go back after the similarly patched fuel line between the pump and the carburetor. Again, the goal was to make the line on the top look like the line on the bottom:
I quickly realized that 3/8 fuel line is much harder to bend than 5/16 transmission line. I made the first few bends by the carburetor without mangling it too badly, but by the time I got to the bends behind the water pump and to the fuel pump, it looked like I’d invited a manic chimpanzee to help in the garage. To make matters worse, I had slightly unbent the original line when removing it from the car, and it didn’t want to line up with the pump anymore. After kinking that line to oblivion, I angrily cut both ends off and replaced the whole thing with a length of rubber hose. Not much more than a temporary solution, but it will do for now. I’ve since purchased an el cheapo tubing bender and another length of line, so we’ll see how that goes.
Later that week, the new transmission gasket finally arrived. I decided to replace the pan as well, in case there was some flaw in the original that was causing me trouble. I steeled myself for another fluid bath, but I actually came out relatively unscathed and was able to catch any of the fluid before it flooded the garage. The new gasket and pan went on quickly, and I followed the strict two-step torque sequence that came with the new gasket. I topped off the fluid (a two-day exercise, since I ran out of fluid at 2AM the first night) and slid a clean piece of cardboard under the car to check for leaks.
The next morning, I pulled the cardboard out and found just two small drips. Satisfied, I actually drove the car to work. A few minutes after I arrived, a coworker broke the news that my car was leaking. By lunchtime, I was officially the Captain Hazelwood of my company (unfortunately, I wasn’t drunk either). Disgusted, I nursed the car back home, parked it in the garage, and put a clean pan underneath to catch the brand-new fluid for reuse.
After cooling my heels for a bit, I think the next step is to verify where the leak is coming from. I’ve been over this pan and gasket so many times that it’s time to step back and reevaluate. To that end, I plan on purchasing a UV dye kit and pinpointing the source of the leak. Stay tuned…