Domestic & Import Service

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04 Nissan Xterra – Broken Leaf Springs and Rusty Dreams


Sometimes, looking at the outside of the car doesn’t tell you the story of what that car has been through. This is a great illustration of that statement.

A few days ago, we got a call from our friend WitchBaby. Yes, her name really is THAT adorable. She was bringing her car into the shop and asked if we could take a look at it. Apparently the car had been making noises like “two pieces of metal clapping together”. It didn’t take us long to find what the problem was:



Note for the future: Your leaf springs are not supposed to be missing gigantic chunks of metal out of them.

Its a wonder how these leaf springs have made it this far! Given a little bit of time, the back right leaf spring could have been completely dragging on the ground (not to mention, maybe given flipping the back end of the car up).

And then there’s the rust:


Nebraska roads must have been MADE of salt! After much pounding, drilling, and wrestling (we even had to bust out a SAW ZAW), we put in a new set of shocks. Given the budget, we also managed to sneak in brakes on all 4 wheels, and fixed a few of the radiator leaks.

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She was happy, the technicians were happy, and of course- the car was happy. No more death mobile!

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2001 Mercedes C320 – Uncovering cut corners, Head Gasket and Head Replacement


Every once in a while, we find a story behind a car sad enough to make us want to sob. This is one of them. Our customer Nyssa found us through our normal marketing efforts and wanted to bring in her newly bought 2001 C320. The car was over heating, and she had suspected the car was needing a new head gasket.

A few hours of diagnosis confirmed the hypothesis. Not only had the car needed a head gasket, our mechanics found out this car had been wrecked before. Paint tape-off lines had been found all over the car, as well as various unpainted, newly installed body parts.

I guess it was Columbia Autoworks to the rescue! We started taking the motor apart. Below are a couple pictures of the tear down.


Intake manifold and fuel rails – Check.


Valve cover gaskets, coil packs, water pump, and timing chain tensioner – check.

Now we start to uncover the real story of the car. Upon taking the heads off the car, we noticed several of the head bolts to be extremely loose. Your head bolts are what connect the heads of your car to the engine block. If these were factory untouched bolts, they would have been much tighter. Finding these bolts loose means one thing – this head gasket had been replaced before. This also gives us a clue about the quality of the workmanship as well.

Used head bolts tend to stretch beyond their temper when used again. Finding these bolts loose also means the last mechanics who installed these head gaskets tried cutting corners. By reusing a set of $200 dollar bolts. Installing new head bolts onto a head gasket job is as important as replacing the head gasket itself!


In this particular case, the head bolts were the main culprit to the head gasket leak. Which can be seen in this picture. You can literally see where the coolant was leaking into the cylinders. This $200 dollars in savings costed our customer countless agony and money. But, we’re going to do this right.


The heads are finally out! Its time to bring it to our trusty guys over at Central Cylinder & Head. Its time to see if these heads are worth putting back into the car. We’ll get them hydro leak tested, and scoped to make sure there’s enough metal on the heads to put back into the car. If these heads were shaved too many times, it will disrupt the timing and build a faulty engine.


News came back from Central Cylinder & Head. Looks like our corner cutting ex-mechanics tried saving more cash! The guys over at Central reported to us that these heads had been shaved 1 – 2 times more than they should have. They should have replaced the heads the last time they replaced the head gasket.

But no worries. We at Columbia Autoworks have relationships all over town. We called a certified auto recyclers and got some quality used heads at close to 1/3 of the cost the dealership would have charged.


Scoped, hydro-leak tested and shaved. Got to love the look of newly polished cylinder heads!


Fresh out of their bath! They look brand new. SO EXCITED to see them in action. Lets put the car back together shall we?


We took a little time and polished the top of the block as well. Its hard to find a mechanic who still takes pride in their work. BEAUTIFUL!


Heads and rockers in. Next comes the intake manifold, water pump, valve cover gasket, coil packs, spark plugs…. blah blah blah.


The point is, we got the car up and running. Healthier than ever. The new heads came together nicely, and sound like a new set of heads. Next time, before you buy a car, bring it buy us first. The few dollars we’ll charge you on a pre-purchase inspection could save you thousands!



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2002 Volkswagen Jetta/Bora – Preventative Maintenance & Road Trips


Here at Columbia Autoworks, there is no car we are biased against. WE LOVE ON ALL CARS. This one rolled in a few days ago needing some leaks fixed, and some basic maintenance. The transmission fluid was really low, and there were leaks all over the place! This customer needed to put close to 5000 miles onto this car in the next few coming months, and we were hired to make this car road trip safe!

Anyways. The main transmission leak was found at the transmission output seal. Here’s a picture of what that looked like.


The seal itself was about $30.00 dollars, but getting to the seal meant taking out the passenger side axle. Which meant the brakes, and rotors have to go too! After a few hours of work we finally get to the axle seal.


This transmission must have been leaking for quite some time. Usually when you unplug the axle, you get a small dribble of transmission fluid that comes out of the hole above.


Nice. New seal in, no more leaking! Now we can go ahead with the transmission flush. I’d show you pictures of that, but im going to spare you the details of that. With the new seal in, this transmission should have no problem holding its fluids in!

On our way out, we also did the CV axle and ball joint. It costs the customer a little extra in parts, but it will save money in the long run. If you’re paying the mechanic to get to a certain part of the car, ALWAYS replace as many of the needed parts on your way out!



Now onto the Valve cover gasket. I couldn’t get a clear picture of the leak, but here’s something close to it. You can see it was gushing out of the sides.


Now lets take care of it! Ever seen whats under a valve cover gasket?


And here it is all put back together.


All in all, the customer was happy. This car was brought in with the transmission fluid leaking, and the gears were slipping all over the place. Now a simple transmission flush usually doesn’t help with a slipping transmission, but with how low the fluids were, this bought our customer time to find out what he needed to do to the car.

By the time we were done with this car, we had put in new Valve cover gaskets, CV Axle, ball joint, aligned the front and back wheels, fixed a transmission output seal, and flushed the transmission. All for the price of less than $1000.00 dollars.

Maybe we’ll sneak in “On The Road” by Willie Nelson into our customer’s CD player before he goes….


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Rescued! 93 Acura Legend – Over Heating


This granny car was brought into us a few days ago. It was over heating within a few minutes of driving! We’ve always loved the Honda/Acura brand, so its a good thing we’ve had experience repairing these!

Majority of over heating issues come from one of the two components: Water pump, or Radiator. Fixing a radiator would have been a lot simply for our friend Jesse, but unfortunately it turned out to be the latter. After tearing apart the car, we found the culprit red handed!


Water pumps are engineered so that when they break, the coolant leaks straight through a hole on the bottom of the water pump. See the residue next to the hole?  CAM00052

BUSTED. Another tell tale is looking at the aluminum around the water pump. See the white moldy stuff around the water pump? That’s corrosion due to the coolant drying on the aluminum. Sometimes, a peak underneath the timing belt cover can tell you everything you need to know without tearing it apart.

It also looks like our friend has been driving this car over heating for quite some time too. Upon inspecting the cams, we found melted plastic! This means the block was running hot enough to melt it.


So where is this melting plastic coming from? After taking out the cam gear, we found the source.


Cam shaft position sensor- MELTED. Now, this is about an extra 2 hours worth of labor to take out. We could just not tell the customer about it since the cam sensor was operational at the time. A broken one would keep the engine from firing correctly. But being the GOOD mechanics we are, we delivered the bad news. Its better that way. This cam sensor was on its last legs, and if it were to break in the future, it would be another timing belt job all together.

So we purchased a new OEM cam sensor. See the difference? Its night and day!


Any ways. The cars back together. The over heating problem is history. Another happy customer on the road.


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Off Topic – The Shanghai Party Bus Project


Painting a bus isn’t a weekend project. This isn’t the project for the DIY weekender looking to do a little extra for his beloved ride. What I am saying is- if you have a bus to paint, do not Craigslist that shit.

Fortunately for our friends at Shanghai Portland, we don’t have room for amateurs on our staff. Not only is our Master Technician a bad ass with a wrench, he kicks ass with a paint gun. He’s like a Bruce Lee, put together with Keanu Reeves without the Keanu Reeves!

This bus project was rescued from a Craigslister in the condition shown above. He managed to paint half the bus, and quit on the second half. Did I mention he was painting it outside in the open air?! He also attempted to paint the bus without any prep work whatsoever…


We’re going to do what we do best here at Junkyard Revival. We’re going to FIX IT, and look good while doing it 🙂


This is us laying down the prep work needed to put up the paint. It took us a good solid day and a half just to tape off the entire bus.


Our Mechanic Tim, scuffing the existing paint in prep for new paint.


Paint layer without the clear coat.


Scuffing the new paint layer in prep for clear coat.


Clear coat finished! Looks like a new bus. You can even see your own reflection in it! Love the color Dusty @ Shanghai picked out.

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Wondering about the new surroundings? We painted it in our new shop. We’re preparing to rebrand ourselves to Columbia Autoworks! I feel like its a little more mature. Stayed tune as we build our new shop!


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2003 Ford Expedition – 100k Mile Service


When you take care of your car, you keep big problems at bay. Think of taking care of your are in two ways: You’re either going to spend money maintaining it, or you’re going to spend money buying a new one. Either way, you will spend money.

This particular customer brought in his 2003 Expedition for his regular 100k maintenance, and a tune up. The 100k check up is pretty extensive, so we were prepared to bring in a buffet of bad news. But since the customer had taken good care of his truck, almost no problems were found.

We flagged a few transfer case and differential leaks. Pretty normal for the 100k mark.

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Its a good thing we caught this on time. Leaking differentials and transfer cases cause vibration, and eventually your differential will lock up and look something like this:


See how the gears are broken and gnawed up? Don’t worry. This didn’t come from the Expedition. This came from another Volvo project we will be posting soon.

Besides doing a set of spark plugs, 4 brake sets, and the transfer case/differential seals this car was a cake walk. Thank you Bruce, for keeping up with your maintenance. You saved yourself A LOT of money.


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2000 Hyundai Accent – Clutch Replacement

At Junkyard Revival, our focus isn’t always on Toyota’s, Subaru’s, and Volvo’s. You have to remember, our mechanic Tim is a 30 year ASE Certified Master Technician. That means he’s been a Master Tech for 30 years! There’s not too many cars in this nation’s lineup he hasn’t put his hands on.

We rescued this one off the side of the road the other day. The driver had driven the clutch out of existence! When we found it, the clutch emitted a burning smell and went no farther than a few feet.


After taking the clutch apart, we found the problem. The last mechanic who had worked on this car didn’t adjust the throwout bearing correctly before putting the transmission back together.


This will cause a groaning noise to come out of your transmission. It will also destroy your clutch if you choose to ignore it long enough…


Anyways. We fixed her up- way under the price of any other mechanic in Portland. If you’re looking for an affordable, high quality auto repair, give us a call. We’ll treat you right.


Who knows. Maybe you’re car will be the next one we feature on our website!


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95 Ford Taurus – You’re breaking your brakes man!

Digging out an overly destroyed car part is kind of the same joy as pushing out a blackhead. In this case, our customer had driven his brakes for so long the brake pads were virtually nonexistent! Despite our warnings of changing his rotors as well, the customer decided to opt out of purchasing the parts. I guess some maintenance and repair is better than none.


Metal on metal!!

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2000 Hyundai Brake Service

What? You’re leaving to Eugene tomorrow and you can’t bring in your car? No problem. WE’LL PICK IT UP. Picked up the parts, and finished the job before our customer got out of work! Gotta love a short service.

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On the Road Again! Dodge 3500 Extended Cargo Van

Our friend Drew’s cargo van was in some desperate need of suspension work. After our standard test drive and diagnosis, this van’s front end suspension was looking sloppy! Considering this is the main tour bus for Left Coast Country (, our repairs need to be done right- we don’t want our friends to be stranded on open roads missing tour dates! Its a good thing we have a Dodge mechanic who’s familiar with these buses. Here are a few pictures of the dissection.

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You know how mechanics are always telling to you fix something in advance before it becomes a bigger problem? Here’s a great example. This van was in desperate need of front struts. In this situation, the blown strut was transferring so much weight onto the ball joint, it stripped the upper control arm. You can still see where the threads used to be, but if you touched it, the threads felt as smooth as silk. Fascinating!


Also, click the link for Left Coast Country. Some of the best blue grass you’ll here in the northwest.


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