Project VehiCross Part 4: The Single Worst Repair…in the World


Ok, now for big tip two, which is: don't buy from Autozone.  I have no idea if another brand's line would provide the correct washers, but we CAN tell you that chain auto parts stores no longer carry crush washers.  Some NAPAs have a nice big bin you can go through and find what you need, but the ones we visited did not.  You can occasionally find a mixed pack on a rack, but none of these are the correct size either.  As a temporary measure, we decided to reuse the old washers to get us to a parts store and buy replacements.  

Ok, now we can finally start reassembling.  Once the soft line is tightened to the hard line, it will no longer rotate, so spend some time lining up the soft line with the power steering pump.  Photographing this joint in place isn't possible, so here it is in an exploded diagram.  There is very little room to maneuver the banjo fitting into place on the pump and if things aren't lined up properly, it simply will not fit.  Once the lines are tight (rememeber to torque them as once the hard line goes back in place it will not be possible to do this again), slide the hard line back into place.  Then fight with the banjo bolt to get it back in (more on this later) and reinstall the two lines on the steering box.

Next, put back that line bracket next to the radiator.  This will suck.  It will be impossible if you ended up tweaking the hard lines when you pulled them out of the engine bay.  This is why this bracket is sitting in a box instead of being attached to the truck right now.  Also, if you tweaked the hard lines, reinstalling the hardline to the steering box will be a struggle.  In our case, it was a two hour fight to get the threads to line up and seat.  I swear I'm not making that up.

You've already seen the bracket, so check out this little guy who came to help me out!  I don't think he spoke English though as he had NO idea what a 10mm wrench was.
Moving back under the truck we go to reinstall the bracket attaching the hard line to the core support…except that reinstalling the bolt is impossible with the radiator still in place.  The bolt slides into a tiny slot under the radiator.  We gave up and just zip tied the line to the wiring harness running along this part of the car.  Then we reinstalled the oil filter and topped up the crank case.
Now for that banjo bolt.  The position of the fitting forces the line to bend down.  There's very little room for fingers and the brand new hose will not want to bend this way.  You can just barely make out the fitting on the pump (just to the left and above the end of the hose).  What you can't see is the little tab that fits against the tab on the end of the hose to help clock it correctly.  That tab is at aroun 1 o'clock on the fitting, so you have to twist the hose into place.  A new hose will not want to twist and bend and the banjo bolt is very short, so getting threads lined up is a real pain (both literally and figuratively: this fitting is what messed up my hand).  Refitting the banjo bolt took about an hour on its own (once again, not an exaggeration).  The dumb thing just would not thread in.  During one of these attempts, the worst happened.  We dropped one of the (old) crush washers and it disappeared.  Son of a…
Ok, we knew we needed new washers anyway but with the Autozone washers being too small, we figured we could just reuse the old ones for now and buy some once we got things back together (since the banjo bolt is an early step, this is a pain, but manageable).  But no crush washer means no seal, which means ATF spraying out…right next to the header.  ATF burns:  This had the potential to be very, very bad.  So we needed a temporary fix while we located crush washers.  It turns out Permatex black will seal a banjo bolt for at least 1000 miles without leaking.  We slathered some sealant on the outer joint and prayed.  Thankfully it held while we tried (and failed) to find crush washers locally and had to wait while they shipped from McMaster.  1,000 miles may sound like a long time, but our daily commute is nearly 100 miles, so it was only about a week and a half.  Still, those 1000 miles were a bit nerve wracking.  Some of you may be asking why I didn't just refurbish my old crush washers and reuse them?  Simple: no propane torch, and no hardware or parts store within walking distance.  This is the same reason we didn't go and buy a big bucket to drain the coolant when we realized we should pull the radiator.
The McMaster washer is a bit smaller than we'd like but a seal is a seal.  We'll take it.  Especially when left with no other options.  It turns out Mega PDC also lists a seal kit, so you can get the right parts.  Those parts are also ridiculously expensive.  At this point, we had gotten pretty good at doing the banjo bolt up again.  A thousand miles of driving also helped break in the hose, so it didn't fight us as hard this time around.  FINALLY, we're finished with this stupid job.

This is by far the worst experience I've ever had working on a car.  I've pulled all nighters working on SAE cars.  I've laid in slushy snow, spreading fiberglas resin over my gas tank to seal it so it would pass inspection.  I've even broken my thumb working on my brakes.  This is still the worst job I've had to do.  Obviously doing it wrong made it worse, but even doing it the right way is still way more work than it should be.  If Isuzu had simply made the hard line a few inches longer or shorter to allow wrenching room to split the two high pressure hoses, this job would be tough, but manageable.  Instead, Isuzu put an important fitting exactly in the right spot to make it completely inaccessible.  If it's any consolation, at least by doing this ourselves we saved about $1000 in labor.

Enough bitching and moaning.  Next time we'll put on more than one part and start turning this truck into a really useful toy.

VehiCross Part 1: What Were We Thinking?

VehiCross Part 2: Repairs on the Cheap

VehiCross Part 3: Tires, Bearings, & Brakes

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