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Simple First
Brooks Townes

Just proved once again that it's smart to look for the simplest possible cause of a problem first.

For months, my gearbox has been getting noisier in 3rd gear, making me anticipate a rebuild in about 20,000 miles. Then, the other day I happened to rest my hand on the console behind ye olde ES's shifter while in 3rd -- and I felt hot air! "What th...?" I muttered. The shifter boot had been lifting up in 3rd, exposing the top of the shift linkage and allowing a little hot air and a lot of mechanical noise into the cockpit.

By pinching the boot back over the hole, all was quiet and cool again. I pulled over and properly re-installed the thing (long ago I put a black leather boot over the ugly stock rubber boot, and the whole mess was pulling free of the console in 3rd). I took off again, wound up through the gears -- and there was no 3rd gear noise! Whew! Now I get to drive without a big transmission rebuild looming over my thick head.

This little incident reminded me of my wonderful brother-in-law's recent gearbox experience: His ES was getting harder and harder to shift, so he took it to a Seattle mechanic he trusted. The mechanic sold him a total tranny rebuild for lots of money. That just barely improved the shifting and it was getting progressively worse again fast.

My bro-in-law was telling me about it on the phone when I remembered having a somewhat similar problem with my ES years ago. I suggested he try what cured mine and he did: He removed the shifter boot inside the car, unscrewed the big ring-nut that secures the shifter in the linkage, pulled up the shifter and took a look at the 15-cent nylon cupped washer that's in there. It was all graunched and scored. He replace it, slathered the new one with a blob of lithium grease and reassembled the thing.

Bingo -- his tranny shifts like new!

Had he looked for the simplest possible causes first, he'd have spent maybe 20 minutes and 15-cents instead of hundreds of bucks. And I'm relieved to find I don't have to rebuild my transmission anytime soon. It was all so easy!

Which is a long way around to passing on this helpful hint from Heloise's illegitimate brother: Look for the simple stuff first! That's obvious, you say?

Happy trails,

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