Hey again everyone. Sorry for not replying sooner—I forget to check here and I wasn’t getting the notification emails.
So, this issue has gotten worse. This will be long…
I agree that it makes NO sense for these to have come undone. My husband’s aunt had this car for a year before us and they were there and intact (her husband used to be a collision mechanic for decades and checked it regularly). She also frequently drove this van everywhere and it was absolutely fine. It ran amazingly well when we got it. We are all beyond confused. Especially me—it was VERY difficult to get these parts off of the junker car in the salvage yard. It was a 2003 and required serious elbow grease. I’m 5’0” but fairly strong and it was very difficult even with the torque wrench set at 150ftlbs.
At this point we are suspecting that the people we recently lived with (and no longer live with) did something to the car. That’s all we can think of. They were anything but good people, which we found out too late. Unfortunately they also knew enough about cars to know that this would cause a lot of damage long term. And I wouldn’t have known to look for this, especially because the front passenger strut was already making quite a bit of noise. And they know our new address. And a few other things that would make us a great target. Or… someone else worked on it and this has all happened.
Speaking of that long-term damage…. Yesterday I did a regular oil change and I noticed several things. The oil that came out of the car was normal, but:
First, when the car runs, there is now a very small but constant stream of transmission fluid coming out of the transmission itself. Not the pan bolts or pan. Photo attached. It stops when it’s parked and shut off thank god. Shifting is fine but it’s been struggling to go uphill.
Secondly, it seems that the radiator reservoir or it’s hose has cracked or broken. I refilled the coolant reservoir yesterday and minutes later saw that we’re hemorrhaging coolant when it’s running. It’s not overheating or anything and the radiator itself seems fine though. The coolant seems to be coming from the reservoir location. However, when the car is warmed up, it starts groaning/has a low-pitched whine. It’s been doing this for a little while. I believe it to be the water pump, especially with this coolant leak. That groan/whine is there at idle, acceleration, and deceleration.
Now, I have something horribly stupid to add to this. We had no idea what was wrong that morning and were so worried that we went to a mechanic that a friend really truly recommended because we don’t know this area yet at all and, as y’all know, we’re broke. (We moved from 1500 miles away btw.) The mechanic was 45 minutes away. And I drove carefully but mostly normally thinking it was something with the suspension and/or brakes. (Bad, but not devastating broadly speaking.) Lo and behold, we were sent home with that “inconclusive diagnosis” even though the mechanic test drove the van for 10 minutes and multiple people got a detailed description of the symptoms AND the car had been lifted for about 30 minutes. Then we drove home relatively normally but carefully. Then I realized what was missing that night and posted here.
I have an awful sinking feeling that this car has been irreparably damaged all because we didn’t know and we drove it that far all for the mechanic to have missed it. Jesus, if I had been told or if I had known I would have never driven it at all. I just didn’t know what to look for because this has never happened to me and I only know so much about cars. I’ve only been driving for a year and a half too.
The worst thing is that I got all of the missing bolts and bushings from salvage, BUT all I could get on the frame was the driver’s side at 98ftlbs. The passenger’s side bolt wouldn’t catch the threads and kept falling out. I’m going to double-check what bolt size I pulled off the 2003 tomorrow, but I think it’s supposed to be an M10x1.25 for the passenger. Either that or somehow the hole is stripped which makes even less sense.
I’m literally thinking to sell it at this point. I don’t know. I wouldn’t get much of anything and this is my only car. I am so baffled. We’re just trying to pick up the pieces and fix this stupid thing. Every time I touch it something breaks, and that is so unlike this model.
Video of groaning noise that hopefully uploads: