Oh God stick shift

Brake pad replacement with Friction Master Ceramic brake pads

Brake pad replacement with Friction Master Ceramic brake pads

My 1995 Cavalier passed inspection.  I yanked the tint off, redid the brakes, had a lot of body work done, changed tires… $600 of work plus some tires and other stuff in, it passes, and I got it registered.

I still want to put two new tires on the front, each being a Goodyear Assurance TripleTred all-season tire.  I nab these from Discount Tire Direct for $103 each, and have my mechanic mount and balance them for me for something like $15 a wheel.  Since we don’t have a real snow season here–unless you count 3 randomly placed days of light snow as a snow season–I have no economic justification for either the cost of snow tires or the time it takes to change the wheels; otherwise I’d use these or just some good summer tires and have a spare set of snow tires laying around, as a necessity.

The car could use a little more work still.  A plastic clip holding the inside door panel on needs replacement (it pulls away from the door easy, but isn’t falling off); it probably needs two new front CV joints ($70 each); I want to replace the front springs and struts; I want to have the brakes inspected and the alignment checked, because I seem to have caused an alignment issue doing brake work (plus replacing the CV axles will bump it out of alignment); and the inside could use a vacuum and cleaning with ArmorAll.  That seems to be everything wrong with the whole car, about $500 more work, if that.  I know it’s an old, valueless vehicle; but every system in there is in good shape and I just want to keep it running good and pass it off to someone else in a year or two.  Oh, and I want to paint it, probably $250 or so if I do most of the work myself and have a cheap Earl Schieb paint job done once I prime and tape it up.  What can I say?  I like to fix shit.

When I get on the highway, or Security, or whatever, I have to accelerate.  In my Cobalt (the automatic), this doesn’t quite work as well as you’d hope.  I throw the pedal to the floor, and it… does nothing.  A split second later it finally wakes up and revs to some 6000 or 6250 RPM; then after a small delay it downshifts, and acceleration finally begins.  Mind you, it stays at 6250 for several seconds, rolling up 40 or 50 MPH to my target speed.  The car responds slow, the engine overworks itself, the torque converter gets hot, and I’m pretty sure this is really freaking bad for my car.

The Cavalier is a completely different beast.  It’s a crappy car, with a weaker engine and worse acceleration.  I get to Security at some 10mph and I’m in second gear, and I flat out floor it to speed up.  And then the magic happens:  suddenly I’m going 50mph, the car’s rev’d up high but it went there smoothly, and I declutch and shift up while the engine slows down.  I never come quite that close to red lining it; rather than pinning the engine at the top of its power band, I ride it up through the RPMs as I accelerate, putting much less stress on the engine in the process.  And, of course, I get there much quicker.

A little shaky?  Yeah.  Hill starts are getting easier, but I stall once in a while and I’m a bit green in general.  I’ve ground third gear a little.  I slip the clutch too much– I have to get faster going into first, and ease into other gears smoothly.  Really though?  I like it.


~ by John Moser on May 5, 2009.

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