Suzy, the 24yo "Unicorn" ... the "power" of old tech

Adding to @plonkster 's experiences this weekend, The Power of Old Tech.

About 2 years ago I drove a big Iveco. Every 10km we stop and fill up with water. Takes ±20l to fill. Had lots and lots of water on the trailer, being a cool drink delivery.

Why, are you mad!? It is very VERY bad to stand next to a road with an open trailer full of coldrinks. Park it and walk away … or don’t stop, pick one.

10km for 10km I drove to the repair center in Ceres, the only place to repair it at the time, driving very carefully and very wisely, the temp gauge your one and only focus, bar the road. Got there, the water pump broke. No sweat" quickly “fly in” (the guy drove VERY fast) a replacement pump from Cpt, repairs done that evening, delivery done, drove back. The engine was still fine. The mechanic was like nogal impressed, no damage, that wants to be done.

The tricks are:
NEVER drive them with no water EVER!
Get the right mechanic.
All parts come for Cpt.

I learned something.

So this weekend we went to Mereenbosch. When we arrived there, idling looking for a cell signal for directions, Suzy chose that moment to start spewing boiling water out of the radiator filling tank.

Note: I had the radiator flushed about a year ago, and again about 2 months back. as I was told to do, airlocks and all that. Should have left it … why fix something that was not broken.

In any case, drove spewing boiling water to the campsite, was close enough, got there, filled the radiator up in no time … carefully, that water was boiling, Antifreeze too. The next day we drove to Hermanus, no problem, looking for a radiator place … mostly closed. Drove back, no problem either.

Coming back Sunday … perfectly fine up the pass back to Cpt to the first Farmstall before Grabow, where we stopped for pies.

Then the fun started.

From then on, we drove from Farmstall to Farmstall to Strawberry Farm to Garage … shopping and checking them ALL out! :rofl:

See, I thought, bugger this, have some fun they said, make it into an adventure, you’ve got this … and drove back like I did that Iveco that one day. Step by step keeping careful watch of the temp, lots of water in the back, planning each place to pull off safely … we gave the N2 and R300 a huge wide berth.

It was a simple decision, cause of the old tech:

  1. Either Suzi limps home and only needs some TLC.
  2. Or worst case she needs a new sub-assembly (±R50k).

Now ok, I could have had her towed, but what cost for a Sunday afternoon(!?), when the damage was already done. Or leave it at the nearest repair center, which needs parts ordered from Cpt next week, where the mechanics are 24-year-olds with laptops to tell them what assembly to replace. Yeah, I don’t think so. Learned that lesson once.

The bottom line, arrived home 30 minutes late, Springboks still beat the shiite out of Romania, after an epic adventure.

Old Tech, man, they can take a beating.


  1. Radiator blockage
  2. Thermostat got stuck.
  3. Water pump.
  4. Headgasket went.

Will know later this week. I’m keeping her.

FWIW: Am busy arranging insurance for her now, before this repair. See, one can get valuations for cars, not a M&M book anymore, and insure it at the valuation value. Think it is time.

As long as you have water that can boil, the engine will survive. Usually.

In some cars, I’m thinking here of some 3-series BMWs (E46 petrol engine), the water pump seizes and impedes water circulation. You usually know this is what happened when you find the thrown-off belt at the bottom of the engine bay. With those, you have to call a tow service. There is no slowly driving it and pouring water.

The water pump was replaced ±3 years ago … wife drove her for two days, short distances, and called me when she got back the last time saying: “Your car is hissing at me.”

That was my bad … had the chance to do preventative maintenance, and I turned “cheap skate”. Never again.

The pump was replaced, with no other damage at that time. The head was removed and checked at the time, just in case.

The drama started when the radiator was flushed the first time … was done cause I discovered after two major services, both of them forgot to check the antifreeze. So the pipes got “crusty” … rusting. I was livid!

So all the pipes had to be replaced. THAT was a mission to find the right pipes. But in the end, no problem if you know where to ask … is becoming a real issue if the car is the same age as some of the mechanics.

Joke: Why do I keep on mentioning the age thing … had a bet with three mechanics for a case of Stella … they swore to me there was an ODB port (or whatever it is called) on the engine for Suzi, and they all went to look … they were so absolutely convinced.

I won, needless to say.

OBD. On-Board Diagnostics. Your car is about the age where an OBD port (or OBD1 as it is called now) may not be out of place. 90s Corollas had them too. You insert a wire into the right pins, and the fault codes are read by counting how many times the check engine light flashes. You do get tools to read them directly if you want.

On that topic, I got myself one of these:


This is a proper one, not the cheap ELM27 knock-offs you get on Ali and other places. Comes with an app on the phone, but you also get special apps for BMW called BimmerLink (for diagnostics) and BimmerCode (for changing settings, like turning off some warnings or making some things default). This is a wonderful bit of kit to have. You can just keep it in the glove box in case you need it.

I can tell you though, that in all the years, the biggest waste of time has been to plug an OBD2 reader into a Toyota. It never has anything to report…

Although, my Brother in law’s car had a misfire and it raised a code for that, which helped us find out which coil pack was gone. Turns out that when he asked the mechanic to replace all 4… the mechanic didn’t do that. One of the old ones was put back… and the cause of the problem.

Yeah, at the time, I googled a lot, case of beer, read ego, is a strong motivator … found them all over cars as you say, going pre-2000.

In the end, I gathered that in lieu of such a “check engine” light, it may be a very strong hint that there is maybe also no ODB port either.:slight_smile:

That is after checking each and every spot some have found, to their surprise, “vintage” ODB ports.

In any case, the crux of the matter is that old tech, with and some without ODB ports, can “take a beating” if done carefully and wisely.

Will know the full extent later this week.

the car was hissing her off, eish - like me if i dont use my ear-pieces, i start shouting [talking] to my wife and two ticks later an argument erupts - hoekom ras jy met my :see_no_evil:

I packed up laughing … drove to the preferred repairer and told them I called this morning, here she is, she was the one who had a “hissy fit” this weekend, and see, I told ya, I can bring her in, she is now as “cool as a cucumber” even after some traffic. Just don’t dare drive her now again, or she will throw another “temp-er” tantrum.

I like my car.

The mechanic looks at her … that sounds so much like a stuck thermostat.

Will see.

Now while we’re talking about old tech, let me tell you about new tech.

Saturday evening I get into the i3, hit the power button, and the car goes:

Bong! Drivetrain error.
Bong! Pedestrian alert system error.
Bong! Parking brake error.
Bong! Brake assist error.

While all this bonging is going on, a fan somewhere in the car is spinning up to full speed. At this point I’ve got the diagnostics plugged in, but nothing is helping.

That’s when I remember: Oh yes! That’s what these cars do when the auxiliary 12V battery dies. I take out my multimeter, dive under the little bonnet into the corner where the battery is tucked away, and it measures 11.7V.

On Sunday I take the battery out and throw a charger on it. The charger spends several seconds in the “Testing” phase, long enough to convince me that the battery is giving notice, before it starts charging.

It is a little dinky 20Ah motorcycle battery, but with very specific screw-on terminals. And no shop has a replacement.

By Sunday evening I start wondering, did the charge help? I throw a lamp onto the battery and let it run 30 minutes. Battery still measures 12.9V. OK… something else must have gone wrong to drain it that much.

Throw battery back in car… all errors gone. Car drives as if nothing has happened.

So today I went to BMW, and asked how much the battery is. I was expecting something “out there”. I mean, a normal 668 battery is around 2.5k these days, this surely must be more.

I was quite surprised to find that the battery is just 2.7k. Still expensive, considering it is just 20Ah, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be!

Why replace it? Well, because it is 4.5 years old. The first battery failed around 43k km, and the car has now done about 86k km. If that battery fails, it leaves you stranded. As in Call-a-flatbed-stranded. So I am replacing it before it fails.

Good advice there … replace the batt.

Geez … I’m now even more skittish about “new tech”. I’m the human in charge, not the “computer” that relies on a battery with all the entails, it failing, charging issues, fuses … liewe genade.

Now I’m wondering… why is it not lithium, or is it, being 4.5 years old lithium?

Someone forgot Suzy’s door open last week … inside light was on for days so the batt was dead.

Slapped a charger on and forgot that when the batt comes back on, the radio comes on … so after 36h of charge, we still had to push her to start … man, what an exercise of a man’s thighs… even though she still starts within 1m at the right velocity. I can start her on my own on the right road. :wink: Moet net fo…en rats wees en nooit eers dink aan val nie.

To jump-start her … yeah right, tried that before. … easier to gooi a towrope on her and haul her big fat arse behind you. … if the pulling vehicle can move, that is. See, I already tried:

  • 1.3 Tazz, after 1h30 we gave up. At that stage, I did not think of pulling her, as the Tazz is stronger than a man’s thighs on a flat road.
  • Polo, after 45m we gave up - we could not pull her, she was parked downhill, front against a fence.
  • 4x4 Nissan Hardbody, that took 30 minutes in a parking area cause to maneuver that weight with no power steering, ag nee wat dankie.

So yeah, with the batt dead last week, I now need to be very careful, R2900 for a new batt. I’ll keep her on the charger and see how long I can still get out of the batt.

EDIT: Yes, she can start with a dead battery and a good push/pull. Old tech see.

in the slip stream of the above something waaaay out, really remarkable …

There are people who replace the battery with LFP. Thing is, it is designed to take an AGM. It charges the battery to 14.6V, which is quite high over 4 cells, it needs to be perfectly balanced to work.

I remember our 1.3 liter Tazz. I could roll-start that in reverse down our 3-meter driveway… with the gate closed. Dropped off a kid at daycare one morning. Parked the car sort-of facing downhill. Came out the door, realised I had the front wheel parked in a hollow. Opened door, pushed car off like you push a push bike… as the car was rolling down the street another lady came out the door, just as I popped the clutch right next to her. Should have seen the look on her face. But the car was started immediately.

Man that was a nice cheap car to run.

two things could break me in my young days when i still was able to do a century [ok,ok,ok 50] of push-ups [now 2 will kill me] the one was pushing my own car [fiat 128] and ‘toutrek’… phew - even the thought of it has me uptight

Wow! Just wow!

When I went to varsity I had a 2005 Renault Megane 1.6, for a car built in 2005 it was quite far ahead of its time, it famously (Or infamously?) didn’t have a key, but rather a card, my problem was not with the card however, it was the push to start button, one day it just stopped working.

I spent months run starting my car, I also managed the art of run starting in reverse without taking out the boundary walls, in the end it was just a simple ~R400 neutral switch that tells the car that the car really is in neutral and the push to start can work.

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And if the car is old enough, that switch is simply bypassed, in similar manner to the heater core you bypassed last year… for the same reason.


Update … so, about a year ago I had all the water pipes replaced on the engine. You get a kit for it.

What happened now? There is a water pipe close to the turbo, the waterpipe clamp came loose, causing a water leak.

What is really “painful” … the wrong clamp was used.

We never saw water under the car.

Bugger me.

Sigh … when the mechanic working on her is the same age or younger …
Or worse, he cannot find the OBD port and has no idea what is wrong …
… it is time for real mechanics. Die “gryskoppe”, or trained by “gryskoppe”.

Like the one time I took her in for a quick assessment at Hayes Motors. The mechanic sat in the passenger seat, hands were dirty, 15m driving he said take me back, it is the exhaust gasket. That is after the other garage serviced the turbo already … I’m done … think it is time to only take “her” to Hayes Motors only from now on.

Will hear today how bad the damage was …

Ticking sound? Or a rushing air sound like a horse blowing? I’ve had both of those on cars.

The ticking sound was on a 90s Corolla. Every time that cylinder has an exhaust stroke, the gasket that is no there moves a little, making a ticking sound, which can be mistaken for a ticking valve train. The second time was on that same Corolla. The gun-gum we used to fix it the first time had blown out of the hole. This time I replaced the manifold as well… and discovered that the studs holding it down had stripped out of the aluminium cylinder head. So we ended up with two heli-coils installed.

If you hold your hand around the exhaust gasket until you feel something “spitting” air against it, you can sometimes even find the hole where the exhaust gas is escaping.

Blowing sound when you accelerate/engine under load. Quick fix.

So, the repair bill is in for driving back ±150km overheating every ±50km:

  • Cylinder Head with Engineering
  • Water Pipe x 2 - not properly replaced before
  • Water pump + Thermostat - Preventative.
  • Head Gasket + Head Bolts
    R R16 455.50
    … all because of a f#($*%k wrong waterpipe clamp … pfok!

But, I said, “Tell me what needs to be done, what can wait for 1-2 years?”

  • Clutch - whining sound due to splines - I can drive her without a clutch. Due to a bad clutch job done years ago - so I call it preventative. (for the wife driving her and the splines go)
  • Propshaft - I’ve known of that for years … preventative.
  • Front and rear wheel bearings - preventative.
  • Custom Intercooler Tubo Pipe - preventative.
  • New headlight bulbs - think I bought probably the weaker ones last time at Midas. Will see.

Some repairs I’m effecting too:
Radiator - due to all the pipes being replaced because of no-antifreeze = rust - Preventative.
Seat Sponges

  • Driver seat … driver has a “vet gat”.
  • Backseat, no need for tools or jack to be stored there anymore, so there are soft spots.

All will cost maybe ±R47k total … can get another 10 years from just these repairs IF properly maintained going forward.

Can now get a valuation:
M&M vehicle value has been stuck for years at R59k.
Our Broker said to get a proper valuation and see if the SI is higher, then I can insure for that.
After these repairs, she is in near-perfect condition again.

Getting a new car … will cost more. A LOT more.

Versus: - still really like the sound and smell of Isuzu diesel in the morning

  • ±11km/l town driving, ±11km/l freeway driving … 12.85kml doing ±60km/h in 5th on dirt roads.
  • Or drive on 100% pure biodiesel if one can find a reliable supplier.
  • … the dream one day of diesel/electric.
    EDIT: It will be vintage in just over 5 years … then I can sell it thereafter for a moerse klomp geld. The wife has been approached with “do you want to sell it” a number of times.

If anyone thinks I’m silly, speak now and tell me why … and where I can get this amount of car that lasts this long with normal repairs that are worth it, for ±R100k cash. Not buying a new car. Nope. Not interested in that devaluation.