Our poor little JNC Wagon! It’s like the Giving Tree of cars. It relinquishes every ounce of pull we demand of it and yet we just keep asking and asking for more. It hauls loads of magazines and our booth to car shows, makes runs to the junkyard, and even jaunts down to Wal-Mart when we need new socks.
Sometimes bits of the ol’ girl just can’t hold out any longer and conk out, but she always makes sure we’re within walking distance of salvation.
The first time this happened our Cressida fractured a wheel bearing. But instead of losing a wheel on the highway, she held out until we were going half a mile per hour in a parking lot. a junkyard parking lot no less, where her fallen comrades lay a few feet away, ready to give up their wheel bearings for the cause.
Perhaps this is because she’s named after Cressida, a tough female character from the story of the Trojan War who was the equal of any man. And today, she endured once again to carry us to safety. We didn’t think we’d have another wagon worklog so soon after the shocks install but here it is.
It was just after the JNC Junkyard Crawl when Dan and I noticed the temperature gauge planted firmly in the red. We immediately turned off the car and coasted to a stop. The sweet smell of boiling coolant greeted us when we opened the hood. The cooling system is pressurized and can overheat pretty quickly if that pressure is lost – and our unhappy Cressida was bubbling coolant from two ruptures in the radiator core.
We let the car cool for a bit and limped back to the junkyard. Man, it was hotter than the surface of the sun out there but we managed to pull this rad from a donor Cressida while melting. Cost: $40.
Changing a radiator is so simple a trained orangutan can do it. Luckily we had our mega-sized vice-grips to squeeze the large clamps (see, there’s nothing this tool can’t do!) on the upper and lower radiator hoses. Get ready for a geyser of coolant shooting sideways all over your suspension. Loosening the radiator cap lets air in to help the coolant exit without gurgling everywhere, but only a little.
Then we undid the bolts for the two support brackets, the overflow reservoir hose, and in the X70 Cressida the reservoir bottle needs to come out too. On the bottom end, two automatic transmission cooler hoses must be disconnected, because we are lame enough to be driving a slushbox.
Out with the old. We weren’t technically supposed to be working on the car in parking lot. Understandably, the junkyard wants the half-disassembled cars inside, not out front. One of the employees came over and told us we were breaking the rules, but was pretty cool about letting us finish the job.
At this point we were pretty much stranded. We put the new radiator in, but had no fluids to fill it with. So I hitched a ride with a Mexican bloke in a white Jetta to the nearest gas station in exchange for a soda. Thanks, buddy!
Freakin’ $14 for a gallon of coolant! Oh well, what choice did we have? Back at the car, Dan and I alternated pours of coolant and water to get a 50-50 mix, roughly.