XM: I hate servicing

I really dislike servicing cars, mostly because I seem to be completely unable to do it without spilling horrible liquids all over the place. Thankfully for my driveway, I learnt long ago that putting cardboard down beneath the car is a useful way of capturing most of the spillage.

The XM has covered 10,500 miles since its previous service last summer, so it really was time to do it again. The oil was dropped, most of it going into the catch tanks (two because the capacity is over 5 litres) and quite a bit over the sump as I removed the oil filter. Situation normal, but at least I managed to avoid getting oil drippled down my arm. It must be said, there are worse places to carry out a service too. Look at that view!

Not a bad spot eh?

Not a bad spot eh?

With the oil dropped and a new filter in place, I could fill the engine with lovely, fresh oil. Comma Oil‘s website recommended its 5w40 Syner-G oil. I wasn’t going to argue and while 5w feels like water at cold temperatures, it should firm up nicely with engine heat. The lower cold rating should allow for happier starting during the winter. I look forward to testing this.

Syner-G oil from Comma, as recommended.

Syner-G oil from Comma, as recommended.

I then replaced the air filter, which is simplicity itself. The fuel filter turned into an utter debacle though. The box size worried me for a start, as the new filter looked shorter than I remembered. I foolishly went ahead and pulled the filter housing apart, spilling fuel all over the sodding place as I did. There may have been cursing, especially as I’d arranged a catch can specially – then missed it. I wiped up the mess as best I could, cursed again when I realised just how spectacularly wrong the new filter was, and then had to just refit the old filter – which fortunately seemed in good order. That’s reassuring, as I have experimented with vegetable oil on this engine – which it didn’t seem to like. Certainly, there were no bits of gunk in the canister this time. I recall there were last time I did a filter change (I somehow avoided too much spillage that time).

All this faffing about lost me time, so I haven’t been able to check the rear brakes as yet. I know the pads are a bit low, because they have been for about 13,000 miles so far. Not desperately low, but I do keep a set of pads in the boot just in case! I’ll try to find time to do that next week. I know the front brakes are ok, as I’ve just overhauled them. Similarly, I’ve kept an eye on other areas of the car. I do need to do an LHM change and filter clean, but lack the necessary tool for the pipe connectors. I’ll leave that for another time rather than destroy the clips.

But, I really did need to give the poor girl a wash. It’s only a few weeks since it was last done, but she was quite grim! Not now.

Sparkly clean!

Sparkly clean!

I’m annoyed to have added another scrape to the many the previous owner had already put on this car. While in Yorkshire, I failed to spot a stone jutting out of a bank as I squeezed past a car that looked like it was going to stop for me, but didn’t. There’s now a scrape just above the bumper on the nearside front wing. Oh well. At least there are plenty of other scars already!

I don’t like to leave a car sitting after a wash, as the brakes benefit from a good dry out. Also, after a service, it’s a foolish man/woman who doesn’t go for a test drive. I’m glad I did, because it revealed that diesel had made its way onto the clutch plate. BOTHER. Or similar, possibly stronger words applied, as the revs shot up as the boost kicked in.

I dashed back home, splashed Jizer degreaser all over the engine, and hosed it off. I did this twice and went for another drive. Still slipping, but less so. By feathering the throttle, I could avoid slippage. Those ‘manual traction control’ off-road skills were coming in useful!

Steam! Trying to wash away the diesel.

Steam! Trying to wash away the diesel.

I’m now very glad that I did this job after hauling the 2CV’s body to Bradford and not before. Getting up the M62 with a slipping clutch would have been a most frustrating business! I now hope I haven’t finished this clutch off completely. I suspect it could be the original, and no, I really don’t fancy having to change it.

On the plus side, the engine bay looks a lot cleaner after the degreasing session! Still, it has been a very frustrating afternoon as once again, a simple service proves anything but.

What are your thoughts? Do share them!

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