Opel Meriva headlights

This is the second time I had to change a headlight on Tanya’s Opel Meriva. I learned this trick the first time:

Yup, remove the headlight cluster. Two 8mm bolts at the top, and one underneath.

Then, it’s easy to undo the clips and change the light(s).

It’s not so clear on the picture, but the arrow marked “Haut/Up” should point towards the engine to install the cover (which you have to do after putting the cluster back in). For the bottom one, up is up. For the top one, not so much.

Three years

Change is a constant.  For the young, without a frame of reference, change is the normal state and is readily accepted as such — whatever is new is inherently better than whatever is old — new things and new ideas, at least new to youth, are quickly adopted by the young as their reality. But after we’ve lived for a time — once we’ve established a frame of reference — we begin to see that many changes are not new things but merely old things wearing a new coat of paint — someone keeps stirring the pot, the same old potatoes come to the top and sink again. Old potatoes are always “New!” or “Improved!” according to the people who sell them, and eagerly gobbled up by the kiddies because of it.

In time, we come to realize another constant in our lives is people trying to sell us old potatoes. Discovering we’ve been duped often leaves us bitter. When we reach that point we begin to view new things — and all forms of change — with suspicion. We cleave to what we know. What was shining and new and instantly embraced in our youth becomes the good, old-fashioned stuff of middle-age. It is our security blanket, a bulletproof vest against the missiles of a changing world. It is also the seed from which grows the tree of ignorance.

The wiser course is to test new things against our store of experience, adopting what is good, discarding what is bad but always with tolerance. Some bad things will always be wildly popular among our youth simply because they lack the frame of reference defining those particular evils. Merely telling them something is bad does little good — it lumps us with the sellers of old potatoes. There are some lessons each generation must learn on their own, a Rite of Passage between childish play and adult responsibility. Each generation must eat its share of old potatoes.

— Bob Hoover, 1939 – 2010


We don’t often get really cold weather. The first cold front of this winter was the exception.

I used some isopropyl alcohol to defrost Tanya’s windscreen, my car I just started up, turned the demister to full, and let it idle for ten minutes.

I also saw some frost on the grass next to the M3 in Tokai.

This is about as bad as it gets in Cape Town, temperature wise. That’s why we like it here :-)

Fun with TDI plumbing

Is there an echo here?

The one in front was my brother’s car, when he decided to sell it I persuaded my boss to buy it for me. Nice car. Leather interior, just over 300 000 km on the odo. Goes not unlike the proverbial raped ape.

The one at the back belonged to a friend of my brother’s, when she decided to sell it I pounced. Cloth interior (which Tanya prefers), about 380 000 km on the odo, and for some reason doesn’t haul ass as nicely as my one does.

Both are 1.9 TDI, chassis numbers differ by about a thousand or so. They get around eighteen kilos on the litre, or a thousand kilos on a tank, whichever way you slice it that’s pretty damn good.

When I bought #2 I took it down to Barons in Claremont, got them to do the 5 gazillion point check. Mostly because I wanted to make sure the timing belt is OK but you know, it’s a good thing to get an expert under the hood, make sure there are no latent problems.

Yea right.

Fast forward a couple of months and Tanya complains that some dinky little car carrying four farmers and a pig passed her going up Constantia hill, and could I please Do Something.

So I googled it. And then I had a look.

Hmmm. That doesn’t look kosher. Lemme zoom in  a bit.

That’s what almost 400 000 km’s worth of wear and tear looks like. All the vacuum is escaping, leaving nothing for the N75 boost control solenoid, which means you’re now driving a non-turbo diesel.

So new pipe was acquired (from Nesco) and installed and things are back they way they were. Not great, but adequate.

I sure hope they paid more attention to the state of the timing belt.

17 year project

Today, seventeen years ago, we re-entered South Africa from Lesotho as part of the 50th Anniversary Tour of South Africa. All through 1996/1997 I’d been frantically putting a Land-Rover together, with much accelerated effort towards the end (if it wasn’t for the last moment I’d never get anything done).

With help from my brother, we ended up getting the Rand-Lover through roadworthy at the end of February 1998, and Elmari and I left on the trip on the 6th of March. It was a bit… frantic.

Since then, this mysterious package has been kicking ’round the back of the Rand-Lover.

Look, it’s wrapped in period-authentic newspaper.

But what can it be?

Look! It’s the trim…

…that goes on the back doors, here.

The intention was to fit these somewhere on the trip. A lot of things did get fitted, but the trim did not make the list.

Yesterday, Eskom blessed us with some more electricity rationing. There’s a round ‘tuit for me! Yay!

I used these captive nuts and M5 machine screws.

And there you go (actually it was a lot more finicky than it looks).

The colour mismatch is 17 years’ worth of fade on the door. Not too bad, actually.

I decided to leave the nearside door for another 17 yea… nah, kidding, I did both.



Look, I get it.  It’s probably OK to not replace your dust and pollen filter every 30 000 kilometers as called for by the maintenance schedule. In not-so-dusty environments you can probably stretch it to 60, maybe even 100 000 kilometers.

You can’t, however, stretch it to “never”.

R100 and Tanya’s car gets fresh air again instead of effectively being stuck in “recirculation” because of a very dirty filter.

Golf 4 oil change

The manual says that you should tighten the oil filter sealing cap to 25 Nm.

But of course the previous fellow who worked on the car was some type of gorilla.


So find an appropriately sized pipe clamp, tighten it around the cap…


And whack the shit (technical term) out of it.

This will hopefully be easier next time, because I’ve taken over servicing Tanya’s Golf.

Data point

If you fill up the tank of a 1.9 TDI VW Golf with unleaded, it will go 10 kilometers before quitting.

(Determined experimentally)

VW Kombi rear brakes

If you’re re-doing the rear brakes on your T3 Type 2, this picture over at TheSamba will help a lot.

Note the orientation of the springs, the top springs are under the hooks. Note the long end of the adjuster fork on the right goes towards the backing plate, short end to the front. Note the bevelled edge of the left-hand adjuster fork goes to the back. Some people say the long hook on the bottom spring should go on the left so as not to foul the handbrake cable.

Yes, you can put it back the way you found it but don’t discount the existence of a DPO.