April 16th, 2014

Car Repair

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Warning: no technical content…
Yesterday my car picked up a howling – like a cross between a demon-scream and cat-torture.  Loud enough it was drowning out the radio; loud enough that other drivers looked at me funny.  It came from this little water box under the hood with a little icon like a windshield water sprayer.  Now my windshield washer has not worked in 5 years, and I’ve just learned to live without it.  Taking a look at this box, it seems like it’s the empty washer fluid box and the pump has decided to stick-on and it’s drumming away on this plastic box with the
resulting howl like demons dieing.  
So I fill it with water, to see if it’ll stop the howling.  Immediately water starts leaking from under the car – my gallon of water is pouring out at a goodly rate spraying from a dozen leaks.  No doubt 10 years of cheap plastic hose as finally died, and the pump is forcing against plugged washer nozzles, the line has split multiple times and shortly the box is empty and the howling resumes.  Indeed while poking at the lines at a juncture point the hose isn’t holding – and sprays me full hard in the eyes.  But it’s my fresh cold clean water only, no harm.
Now I start looking for how to replace and/or repair this pump.  But its really tangled in under the engine; no way I can see to get at it without major dismantling of hood & fender parts.  So I go for plan B: pull the pump’s power cable.  Can’t reach it; can’t even find it.  Plan C: pull the fuse.  The Google fails me, no electric diagrams or fuse-box layouts for a 12-yr old car.  Ahh… but I still have the owner’s manual – and shortly a fuse-box layout.  I’m staring at it looking for “windshield fluid pump” or something… when I see that funny little icon on the water box…
It’s an Intercooler Water pump????  WTF?? is an intercooler pump?  Well – it turns out for a fancy-schmancy sports car to be all fancy-schmancy it has to have some extra high-tech gadgets that the drivers can manually operate.  In this case, it floods water all over the engine – on purpose – to help with evaporative cooling.  You can imagine racing the car on a hot summers’ day; the turbo is compressing the dickens out of the air, and that makes the air very hot.  Cooling it gives horsepower directly.  Also with the engine constantly being hard pressed, it’s also hot.  Hence the sprays all over the engine.
And sure enough, there’s that same little funny water-spray icon in the middle of my center console, with “auto” and “man” settings.  It’s right in the combat zone for spilled coffee and donuts, and it’s gotten fairly grimey over the years.  Currently it stuck down on the “man” side.  I press towards the middle neutral setting.  The howling stops.  Blessed, blessed silence.
I clean it up and it stays nicely in neutral.  I can click it up or down, and hear the relays clacking… and when the water box is full and the button held down on “man” the pump sprays mightly all over the engine.  And on the “auto” setting it’s just silently there.  I replace all the fuse box covers, clean the button, fill the water box… repair is done.  The drive to work is zippy, the Evo is humming nicely… and no howling.

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