>New Brakes!

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I got in our van on Friday morning after work to drive home. While using the brakes, I noticed a grinding noise. I got out and felt the rotor (mistake: brake rotors get hot when used. Note to self). There were grooves in it. Guess I need a new rotor and pads. I drove straight to Advance Auto. The people there are the best I’ve found in my area for giving advice and helping me fix my car. They quoted me a price right away over the phone.

I called the guys at Autozone, and they demanded to know what engine size I had before they would tell me what kind of pads I needed. I don’t know why, because I’m not doing anything with the engine. I’m assuming the brake shoes are standard across the board for all the models of my year. Their computer probably wanted to record what type of engine I had so the next time I call in (looking for an alternator) they would know. Well phooey on them and their grumpy phone skills (they always sound like I just woke them up or interrupted their tv show or something). So I went to Advance Auto for my parts.

It cost me $30 for a new rotor and $22 for four rear brake pads. I got home and started working right away. I set the parking brake, lifted the van with my jack, and got the tire off. Then I stared at the brake configuration, since the two bolts I had been used to seeing were not present. Long story short, I called Advance Auto, they found a matching caliper for my van, and told me how to get it off (see? I told you they were helpful). All I needed was a 7mm allen wrench. Guess what I didn’t have….besides a million dollars. Kim called her dad to see if he had one (didn’t). He graciously went to Lowe’s to buy one (since my only means of motorized transportation only had 3 wheels at this point).

He came back with the wrench, I removed the caliper (and pads), and tried to pull the old rotor off. I swear that thing was welded in place! We used a screwdriver, two hammers, a wedge of wood, PB Buster, and a pickaxe. Yes, you read that right. Well, turns out it would have been much easier to get off if I had taken the parking brake off. Heh. Heh.

I put the new rotor on, new pads, and the wheel. Project done, right? I went to bed (it being 1pm, I being very tired having worked all night, and I being going to work that night as well. After five hours of sleep, Kim told me there was a funny noise coming from that tire. Grr. So I drove it to work, and yes, there was a hissing or scraping noise coming from that tire. I figured it would wait until the next morning. It did. When I looked at the brakes on Saturday morning, I noticed the aluminum rotor guard (which sits behind the rotor, all the way around it) was pressing up against the rotor in a few places. I bent the guard back into correct position. Problem solved. Now I just need to replace the pads on the other side (should be a lot easier, with the lessons I’ve learned here).

I still only have one vehicle, and I’ve been looking for a second one (though not in earnest yet). We are still hitching rides with Kim’s dad and/or sister, and making other plans when we “need” two vehicles. I would really like to avoid another car payment if possible, but it’s starting to look like I may have to find the cheapest car I can and get a small loan (I’m thinking a few thousand dollars). I will seriously need a vehicle in a month, since I can’t see leaving Kim and the kids with no vehicle for a week while I’m hunting in Missouri, assuming I go this year. We’ll see what happens.

In other news: I found a loophole in our medical savings account plan. We have a plan that withdraws money from my paycheck pre-tax that I am able to use for medical expenses (plus dental, vision, etc). So my medical expenses are all untaxed. I asked them last year if we could use our card to pay for our YMCA membership. They said no. Bummer. Well I did some research and found that the rule is that you cannot use your flex account for health club membership UNLESS it is to treat a medical condition such as obesity. Guess what?? We’re obese! Evidently I was obese when I was in high school lifting weights and playing football (i.e. when I was in the best shape of my life). It seems that very few people (cancer patients, etc) are NOT obese. All I had to do was get a letter from my physician stating that I’m obese, and I can use my flex account for our YMCA dues. Cool, huh? Now if only I can get up off the couch to go swim and stuff.

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About Steve Picray

I have been many things, but right now I am a registered nurse attempting to pay off my debt so that, God willing, I can be a pastor again someday. I have a wife and three kids. I am a conservative Christian (of the Baptist variety). This blog is about me: the things that happen to me, the things that interest me, and the things that bother me. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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