Spring in New England

Anyone in this part of the country can tell you — this has been a brutal winter. The last snow in my yard stuck around until late yesterday. You still see piles of snow in shady places around the neighborhood. For almost two months I had more than four feet of snow in the yard, and snow banks north of seven feet fall along my driveway.

So the spring thaw we’ve finally had the last week or two has been a very welcome respite from the storm after storm of the winter. It was in the low 60’s yesterday, and nearly 70 today. It was definitely time to get the Factory Five out of the garage and put some miles on it. I want to do a fluid change in the next few weeks, but there’s not even a thousand miles on the car yet, so its not really pressing.

I had gotten my other car out of the garage a few weeks ago, and had moved the FFR back in front of the garage door. Yesterday I got it down from the wheel dollies and decided to take it for a ride. Having the car plugged into the battery tender all winter, it fired up immediately and Aimee and I took it for a spin.

The engine ran great, but during the drive I was getting some weird screeching noises when making right turns. We did about a 25 mile loop and it was really bad by the time we got home. I wasn’t sure what it could be — it seemed unlikely to be a wheel bearing, as it was only happening turning one direction, and sounded like it was coming from the rear of the car. The car also seemed squirrely.

Today I got the car up on jack stands and crawled around under the car, checking all the suspension bits. Everything in the front end seemed tight, and I saw no sign of anything mechanical hitting anything else either in the front or the rear. When I went to remove the rear wheels, the driver’s side wheel was wobbly, but strangely the lug nuts were all tight. I knew right away what the issue was — the axle nut was not tight, and had backed off enough to let the whole wheel wobble. When taking the wheel off the other side, it was just as loose.

I did some searching online, and these nuts staying tight is something that a lot of people have had problems with. A few people even doubled-up the nuts, to keep them from loosening up. I re-installed the wheels, and using my large 250ft/lbs torque wrench to tighten them back up, and used a paint pen to mark them. I’ll keep an eye on them and see if they start to back out again. If they do, I’ll replace them and probably put two on, just to be sure.

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I haven’t driven the car since re-torquing the nuts, so I’m not 100% sure that the loose hubs didn’t mess anything up, and I can’t be 100% sure that there aren’t any other problems, but I onced-over the rest of the car, and it seems fine. On a positive note, there’s no sign of any oil or coolant leaks, even having sat all winter.

And, no, I still haven’t found a paint shop. I would really like to find one by May, but at this point I’ll likely wait until either the real hot part of the summer, or late fall.