Grease Monkey 101: Making Money – Revised

Dillon Pinto

English 101

                                    Grease Monkey 101: Making Money


“I’m starting to think it’s not even worth all of this work man” I say to my cousin Victor as I become more and more frustrated with my car.

“Grease Monkey 101?” he asks with a smile.

“Making Money” I reply.

It’s the middle of August, my garage is sticky and humid and being covered in dirt and grease isn’t exactly making me feel any better, and neither is the fact that my car hasn’t been running for over a week now.

You see, I had a 98 Honda Civic with over 200,000 miles on it. I went to Diman and was in the Automotive Tech shop, so I was constantly doing little repairs to my car on my own. From replacing Alternators to exhaust work, I’ve done almost everything to my car besides major engine work; and then my head gasket went. So I figured replacing my entire engine makes more sense than taking apart the top end of an engine with 200k on it.

“This is what I do, I work on cars” I say to myself. ”I can do this on my own and save hundreds of dollars on labor.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly realize how involved this job was going to be. Now, I won’t go into great detail about the process of taking out an engine and putting another in its place, but I’ll try to make you understand how big of a process this is and how much patience and persistence goes into accomplishing my ultimate goal of having a fully functioning car, and saving tons of money on mechanical work.

Every little bolt on this car tried my patience and continuously had me cursing at my car as if it were an actual person. I’m on this old wooden creeper underneath my car, with rust and debris constantly falling onto my face as I try to loosen up bolts on my original exhaust system. Only mechanics can understand the frustration of being hot and sweaty under a car and having bolt after bolt deny your wrench and socket. And as if it’s not hot enough, every mechanic knows the only way to get a stuck bolt off without damaging it is to heat it up with a blow torch. Next time someone wants to go into a sauna, instead of spending all that money at a spa or hotel, heat up some bolts under your car in the middle of summer. Trust me, it does the job just as well.

A few days of working for 10 minutes on every bolt that connects to my engine finally makes me realize I need some help. My cousin Victor was a Tech at Viti Mercedes for years and now runs his own garage. Who better to ask? So he agrees to help me out on the upcoming Saturday. Meanwhile during the week, I’m slowly but surely, piece by piece and bolt by bolt getting this engine ready to be lifted out of my baby.  

He arrives just on time, as I’m beginning to lose faith that I’m going to be able to finish the job and do it right before I lose my mind. I remember on the night before, it’s about 7:30 PM, and I’ve been working on my motor mounts, which basically support the engine. They are full of rust, stripped and rounded like crazy, my socket is just flying off this thing with no luck. I’ve heated it up about four or five times, and I’m just about to lose it. Now, a lot of times when you are focused on one thing you forget little details about the job. Like the fact that my bolts on the motor mount were right-hand threaded. So, everyone’s heard of the old saying of “Lefty loosey Righty tighty” when it comes to unscrewing something right? Well right hand threaded bolts are the exact opposite. In my rush to finish up on the disassembling I forgot this little detail and set myself back about an hour. I’m sure you can imagine how frustrating this was for me, knowing that I could have been showered and relaxing in bed already if it wasn’t for my screw up. But instead, I’m in this humid garage, throwing my tools around in frustration.

Luckily for me, my cousin Victor made the rest of this process relatively headache-free. After a few small problems at first; like trying to jack up a few hundred pound engine with just a car jack, and trying to get the engine mounted in the engine crane right, we were on our way. We were able to lift the old engine out, and reassemble my car with my new engine in place pretty quick and easy with the help of Victor. Now, I’m making it seem like dropping a new engine inside of a car is a piece of cake, but compared to the rest of this job, it somewhat was. The biggest issue is trying to line up everything right so that you get the engine inside without banging against any other parts that are still under the hood. Every inch to the left or right counts, and it’s really just a test of patience to get it right before you begin to lower the engine. From that point on, I’ve dealt with all the headaches of this job already, and reassembling new parts is like cutting through butter with a hot knife, smooth and easy. Once everything was pretty squared away, and I was looking at my essentially brand new car, I felt a feeling of accomplishment. All those hours spent banging my knuckles against metal as I tried to loosen a bolt in a tricky spot and all those shirts that went in the garbage from being covered in grease all seemed worth it. I was able to not only to get my car back into proper shape, but gain experience and save myself quite a bit of money .I did some research on engine replacement jobs and realize I saved myself about 600-700 dollars by doing this job on my own. The funny part about this, though, is about two months later I sold my car and purchased a 2004 VW Jetta.

”What did I come over for and help you with it if you just turned around and sold it?!” my cousin said to me a few weeks later.

“I would’ve gotten near nothing for that car with a head gasket issue, and instead I got 2,500$ and put that as a down payment on my new car bro” I replied.

“Wow, you made out pretty well then huh buddy?” he said.

“Grease monkey 101?” I said with a smirk.

“Making money” he replied.

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