I finally broke down and replaced a damaged lower control arm bushing in the TDI. For some reason the parts supplier I had ordered brake pads and bushings from had sent the wrong bushings, so I ended up going over to Ourisman Volkswagen in Laurel, Maryland and getting the correct lower-rear bushing. The old one had been damaged when I hit a curb a few months ago, and it had degenerated to where the car could no longer be accurately aligned, and every time I changed gears or hit the brakes the steering wheel would rotate 10 degrees on its own as the bushing flexed back and forth.
Monday night, I jacked the car up off the ground and pulled the control arm out. The bushing was indeed trashed. However, as I didn't have the right part, I took Nora's car to get the parts after work, and $33 later I had the right part. We cut the old bushing out, then pressed the bushing into the arm and tried reinstalling the whole thing. Apparently during disassembly I'd managed to get the axle splines out of the CV joint, meaning I had to take the rubber boot off and reset the splines where they belonged. The grease was fierce... I went through probably a dozen rags collecting it all up. Then, to my surprise, AutoZone completely lacked CV joint boot clamps, selling me instead one of those shitty two-piece aftermarket replacement CV joint boots, which I bought solely because it came with the clamp I needed. I threw the rest away.
After much pounding and yelling, it mostly all went back together, though the sway-bar end connector bolt snapped off after I applied a ridiculous small amount of force to it during reinstallation. There was much swearing and throwing of tools. However, the car was back together and on the ground, and is much improved. Tomorrow, I'll take it back over to Meineke and get them to realign it (under their "lifetime" warranty, of course).
The TDI doesn't usually lend itself well to being worked on. Not like my old Volvos, which were and are the gold standard for ease of repair. Whatever you need to do on an older Volvo, you can get to it without requiring a third and fourth elbow, the engineering is clean and sensible, and the parts are durable and come apart only when asked. Saabs aren't much fun to work on, either... I suspect Saab assumes that you have a spotless aircraft hangar staffed with five or six guys in white coats, and you are expected to remove the engine to do practically anything from replacing the water pump to changing your belts.
Compare and contrast: I once replaced the engine in a 1968 Volvo 142 along the side of a dirt road in a place called Capac, Michigan, using nothing more thana cheap set of sockets from K-Mart and a cable hoist thrown over a tree branch. That car ran for several more years.
Tucker has developed a hemorrhage in his right eye, which could lead to blindness and sometimes is an indicator of high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, or even kidney problems. He's going to the vet tomorrow morning, and if they can get his blood pressure down we can probably get the sight in his eye back. The other eye is OK, but the right one is dilated and obviously has blood in the fluid. Hopefully he won't lose his sight, as Tucker is paranoid enough and he doesn't need to be worrying about stuff -- mostly me -- he can't see. He's eleven, so I suppose between this and Anya's digestive illness the other week, it's a sign the Class of 1996 is aging and getting all their usual cat illnesses. Gus, the biggest of that bunch, is unaffected, as is Fred.
I am amused that the Weekly World News is ceasing publication. In 1995, they published an issue with a guy in a black leather mask and the headline, "SECRET PLOT TO END SOCIAL SECURITY! Gov't. informant reveals EXACT DATE your benefits will stop!"
I, of course, immediately Photoshopped a version of the cover, featuring Batman, and the headline, "SECRET PLOT TO END WEEKLY WORLD NEWS! Masked avenger reveals EXACT DATE your subscription will stop!"
I'm not sure where I'll go to get vital, hard-hitting news like "Man Blows Up On Operating Table" (1984) and "Man Grows World's Longest Nose Hair" ( 1997).
I guess we outlived them. Heheheh.