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I'm on track to surpass my mileage record in my Chrysler 300 this week. My last car, a 1998 bare-bones Toyota Corolla was bit over 232k miles when I sold it to a co-worker. As a result of the pending record, the Chrysler decided to throw the first CEL (check engine light) code since I've owned it last week. Fortunately, the code was P0404 - Exhaust Gas Recirculator (EGR) error, which is a fairly inexpensive part to replace. Unfortunately, the part is in the most inaccessible place in the engine bay. There are a couple of ways to get to the EGR, but they require uber-yoga skills and sprawling myself on top of the engine. Six hours later, I had the codes cleared and the car running like a champ. Two hours of this was me fighting with the EGR plenum gasket and a couple of “oh-crap” moments when said gasket got sucked into the intake manifold. Fun times!

Finally had some time last night to fix the rear brakes on the 300. Turns out the high temperature anti-seize stuff I had been using for years is not so much. Looks like it bonded to the pins. Here's a picture of a new pin next to the existing “bad” pin. The bad pin is still this bad even after hitting it with a wire brush.

Took about an hour to replace the rear caliper brackets, boots, and pins and then getting the wheels mounted followed by a spin around the block to make sure everything is good. Hardest part was just getting the caliper boots seated in the new brackets. I can't tell you how much nicer it is working in a garage with a lift as opposed to the driveway and jack stands. Factor in rain and early sunset, and it's a no brainer.

I was painting a portion of the garage on Sunday this past weekend and while it was drying, I decided to go ahead and replace the belly pan on the 300. It had been cracked for some time when I had accidentally got a little to close to a parking curb. So I raised the car on the lift and since I had the belly pan off, I also replaced the fog lights with new Oracle LED rings. Seems some water managed to make its way into the old lights over the winter, shorting out the lower elements. So instead of a complete ring of white, it was an 80% ring of white and a mix of red/blue/green lights at the bottom. So anyways, I'm buttoning everything back up when the girl comes in and ask if she can turn the rear driver's side wheel. I said sure, go ahead. She struggled with it and was about to give up when I said, “put some muscle into it”. She gives it all she's got and the wheel starts moving. While its moving, there is a clank and out pops a brake shoe from behind the wheel. At this point the girl is giving me the most pathetically sad face thinking that she had broken the wheel. I reassure her that it's not her fault and proceed to take the wheel off.

I regularly check the pad thickness every oil change and it appeared that I still had some meat on the outer pad, but the inner pad was in bad enough shape that it separated resulting in the pad coming out. Thinking easy money, I run out and get a new set of pads from Advance Auto. I come back and start putting in the new pads and realize that the caliper pins are not floating like they should be. I pull them out and they are in pretty bad shape. I clean them up, pop them back in, and they still are not as smooth as they should be. At this point, I go ahead and break down the rear passenger side brakes. The caliper pins on that side where completely seized to the caliper bracket. So now, I had to order new caliper brackets, caliper pins, and caliper boot sets for both sides in addition to the already purchased pads. Those parts I ended up getting from Rock Auto.

So now, I commuting to work for the next couple of days in the girl's Forte (thank goodness for a third car). I'll also start checking the calipers more thoroughly from now on.

Finally broke down to the complaints of the girl and traded the 2006 Matrix in for a 2012 Kia Forte. This makes us owners of not one, but two Kia vehicles (wife has a 2016 Sorento). The departure of the Matrix also means that we no longer have a car with a manual transmission, something the wife is still having issues with as she loves driving cars with manual transmissions. I guess I can revel in the fact that at least the girl knows how to drive a manual. I think the Forte is a perfect car for a new driver. Small, nimble, and not enough power to get into trouble. Enough options on it that it's comfortable, though the lack of power locks and windows is causing some grief with the girl, more so with the locks. Putting in power locks could be potentially a summer car project.

I'm going to make one last push to get the garage done. I've been working on getting paint on the walls since I left it with two coats of primer. I'm down to mostly trim work. Also pondering adding an additional outlet on one side of the garage, since I'm using an extension cord now. I would probably run this externally of the wall through conduit so I won't have to do more drywall. Speaking of which, I think my builder has fixed the leak in the one corner, so I'm also hoping to have it closed up in the next couple of weeks. Waiting on the major rain to make sure things stay dry before doing anything. Stay tuned.

Hope everyone had a good new year! I finally got to use the lift to change the oil on two of the cars over the weekend. To make things even better, my wife got me a 20 gallon oil drain tank for Christmas. This made changing oil probably the best auto work experience yet. No more laying on the ground, everything at head height, it was awesome (yeah, still talking about changing oil). Also made rotating tires extremely painless as well. Still looking for an impact socket for the new(er) rims. Seems the only size that works is a 9/16in spark plug socket (non-impact).

I've developed a minor leak in the garage with all of the rain we've been having over the past couple of weeks. I noticed a small line of water running down the wall. I got a ladder and started poking at the drywall and it was complete mush. I cut away a section to take a look, and it appears by the amount of mildew/mold the minor leak has been going on for quite a while now.

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