Hello ladies and gents, just thought Id post up a quick intro and ask a few general questions about the forums. My name is Ed and I live in Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Im on a few other forums and Ive found the unwritten rules to change quite considerably between them, Ive joined up here for a bit of tech help with my '04 astra (MK4??) so the last thing I want to do is start stepping on people toes. (Please let me know if Im out of line! )
I wont post up any pics of my car at this stage as it is in very poor condition and I dont want to upset anyone. It was originally bought brand new for my girlfriend at the time, for her to learn to drive....in the midst of her learning and getting some experience she has somehow damaged just about every panel on the car. After we split up, she kept the astra and also managed to avoid servicing it to the point where is has multiple mechanic issues too. I bought the car back off her in early '08 as she was heading over seas and tight on cash (seemed like a good idea at the time) but I didnt realise the cars condition at the time.
Since then Ive been using the car on and off as a daily drive (I have a few other project cars as well) and I admittedly have been putting off fixing up all the general problems as I have zero experience with front wheel drives and its a little bit daunting to me at the moment.
The car is overdue for a timing belt change and also needs the rear main seal, rear shocks and accessory belt changed, I will also be changing a few other pulleys/seals/fluids/filters/etc to try and bring it up to scratch. After I did a quick fluid/filter/plug change on it last night Ive found that one of the coil stems is broken and after firing it up this morning I found the engine is running on 3 cylingers (i unsuccessfully tried to glue the stem back together), so it looks like a new set of coils is also on the shopping list. The car is now off the road until all these problems are fixed.
As this engine is known to "eat" timing belts for some reason I figured any enthusiast would have a good idea of the best way to change it, I have done alot of work on RWD cars but my knowledge of FWD mechanics ends at a basic fluid/filter change. I am not a professional mechanic, but I have built a few RWD performance cars (normally Toyota stuff) and I live in a house full of car nuts so between us we can normally get just about anything done.
1. Am I best off pulling the engine out to change the timing belt and rear main seal? (Pulling the engine out doesnt worry me but of course Id rather not if its an easy job with the engine in place.)
2. I have heard replacement coils are quite expensive, is there a cheaper alternative from an aftermarket brand available? (ie. bosche/spitfire/etc??)
3. The steering has recently started shaking at high speed (>100kmhr), similar to if I was driving over a bumpy road. At first I thought a wheel was loose but I have jacked the car up and checked this and the wheels are fine. Are there any common problems that cause such a thing?
4. When the car is jacked up, in park, with the handbrake on I am able to turn the front wheels an inch (or so?) quite easily each way before the gears stop it. This doesnt seem right to me although I know nothing about FWD differentials/gearboxes. Is this bad? If so, whats wrong? Is this what is causing the shaking in the steering system?
5. The rear shocks are leaking, is this a common problem with the MK4s? Am I best to upgrade them to an alternative brand shock?
6. Im not a fan of the factory Blaupunkt head unit, although I am a fan of the steering wheel controlls and seperate display screen. The CD player skips easily with anything but absolute perfectly new CDs, is there a better option available that allows the factory steering wheel controlls and display screen to be retained?
7. I have not replaced the fuel filter or auto transmission fluid at this stage, should I do this? (odo: 105,000km/66,000miles)
8. Any other servicing suggestions?
I apologise if Ive asked some questions which have been covered in depth already. Ive had a quick look around the forums and havent found stickies about what I need, I will keep looking but in the meantime I just thought Id post this up anyway. That way all my answers will be in the same spot and makes for easier reading while my hands are covered in oil.
I greatly appreciate any suggestions and help people can offer!