I fixed an engine problem in my Volvo. Sort of.
To clarify: the problem is completely fixed. Last week, , for as I was turning into my driveway, my car started shaking and vibrating. I pulled into the driveway, and, instead of taking the Volvo straight to the mechanic like a normal young woman, used this as an excuse to purchase a Bluetooth OBD II reader. (The one I chose is a BAFX Elm, $23.99; it was called a “magical impulse buy” by a car magazine.) Anyway, the check engine light (CEL) was not on, but my car didn’t have any stored codes, either. I took a wild guess that the spark plugs needed changing (and were, cough, about fifty thousand miles overdue for this).
Mr. Velociraptor helped out with this project. After three hours of peering under my hood, scratching our heads, and making two separate trips to the hardware store (for a 10 mm socket wrench and a torque wrench), we got exactly one cylinder fixed. We also had to gap the “pre-gapped” spark plugs, because when you buy cheap spark plugs, they are properly gapped, but the nice platinum ones that last for a hundred thousand miles don’t come pre-gapped. (They also require a different tool to gap them.) The second cylinder was faster, but by that time, it was dark and cold. We threw in the towel, then continued the project yesterday.
After all five spark plugs were changed, I turned on my car and, amidst the rumbling, voila! the check engine light came on. Let me tell you, I’ve never been so happy to see “Check Engine” lit up in orange. My nifty BAFX told me that the problem was a misfire in cylinder 1. Thanks to the wonders of Amazon.com and their new “garage” feature (which enables you to store your vehicle so that it can automatically check parts for compatibility), I got an ignition coil overnight shipped to me.
This afternoon, I installed it in ten minutes and thirty-three seconds flat. My car now works properly!