On washer pumps, new beds, and other random notes.

So the windshield washer fluid pump on my 2000 Grand Prix has given up the ghost right as we’re heading into the season where I’d be using it the most. I’m debating on whether or not to try and save a few bucks by replacing it myself, but I have no idea what one even looks like let alone where it would be situated or how hard it would be to get to. I’ve paid someone else to replace one before so I know it’s not cheap to have someone else do it. I need to do some Google searches and see if I can find anything online that talks about it. Or if any of you have any experience and can leave a comment about it, that’d help too.

And as long as I’m talking about things I don’t have a clue about I may as well mention that Anne and I are thinking of financing ourselves a new bed and mattress set. The Queen mattresses we’re using now are ones I bought back in my mid-20’s from Sears when I discovered that sleeping on a water bed was what was causing my backaches. I never did get a proper bed frame for them and they’re in pretty rough shape these days. Trouble is I have no idea what I should be looking for in the way of manufacturer or firmness in a new set and I’m going to have to finance the purchase either way. The two big furniture retailers in Michigan are Art Van and Gardner White and I haven’t a clue which is the better company for deals and not getting screwed. Ideally we’d like a King set, but the jump in price over a Queen set is enough to make one pause and consider if we can get a much better mattress for less money if we stuck to a Queen sized bed. I really wish I had had the presence of mind to ask the folks at the Cherry Street Bed and Breakfast in Frankenmuth where Anne and I spent our honeymoon what mattresses they were using as that is still the best nights rest I’ve had since I gave up the waterbed (the waterbed used to be the best sleep experience until my back started bothering me). So any advice you folks have on mattress shopping for someone who has a bad back and regularly wakes up sore would also be appreciated.

Lastly it looks like my job is sending me back out to the Milford location on Monday so not only will I be closer to home, but I’ll also likely have access to a terminal on a more regular basis which means my posting on SEB may go back up in frequency soon. They’ve actually got stuff for us to do now so it probably won’t be at the level it was previously, but at least more frequently than it is now.

18 thoughts on “On washer pumps, new beds, and other random notes.

  1. Les,

    1. As a driver of beater cars, from a family of beater car drivers, I heartily recommend heading down to AutoZone, Advance, Pep Boys or O’Reilly’s and picking up a Hayes or Chilton’s repair manual for your car.  You can go through the steps and decide for yourself if you want to do it or pay someone to do it for you.  Alternatively, AutoZone has a large section on their website devoted to auto repair steps, which has the benefit of being free.

    2. Have you considered going by Macy’s, for instance, to look at mattresses?  They have frequent sales and carry the leading brands, and you might be able to save some scratch by financing it with a store credit card if you don’t already have one.  If no Macy’s, perhaps some other department store.

    Just some thoughts,


  2. You beat me to it, but for the car problem pick up a Hayes or Chilton’s repair manual for your car as NeonCat suggested. 

    I don’t do a lot of work on my old ‘92 Honda Civic POS, but the few things I’ve repaired myself has easily covered the cost of the book, and made my repairs a lot less scary.  Plus I was even able to use it once to call bullshit on a mechanic that was trying to overcharge me on some stuff that was completely unrelated to what I had asked him to work on. 

    If you can read and make sense of exploded diagrams the book can be a real time saver.  Plus it will give you estimated repair times for different problems.  I find it often takes me longer the first time, but whatever I’m cheap and saving money is always nice.  Especially for a $20 pump.

    As for mattresses I picked up a Posturepedic from Costco a few years back at a significant discount compared to the furniture stores in my area.  I live in Juneau, AK so my shopping options are quite limited compared to someone in the lower 48.  My parents picked up one of those Sleep Select beds (you know the ones that Lindsy Wagner is hocking on TV commercials) where you can adjust how soft or firm the bed gets on each side.  It was pretty comfortable, but it kind of felt “off” to me.  It was like a cross between a normal bed and an inflatable bed.  My parents seem to love it though mainly because they want to be able to sleep in the same bed, but my dad likes to sleep on super firm beds and my mom prefers a really soft bed.

  3. Just out of curiosity, had you tried contacting them? wink 

    Cherry Street Bed & Breakfast
    255 Cherry Street
    Frankenmuth, Michigan
    Reservations: (989) 652-4707 or (888) 436-7896

    Email: cherrystreetbb@msn.com

  4. I highly recommend you don’t buy the Hayes or Chilton and instead just look at it for a few minutes and see if anything in the book correlates with your car. I have heard some negative stories from those that tried to follow the Chilton’s, with diagrams being completely wrong and other issues, but maybe for your car the Chilton’s will be great. If you don’t like the Chilton’s you can get a Factory Service Manual for your exact year, make, and model. Just call Pontiac and they will tell you how much to order directly from them. Sometimes you can find them on eBay for cheap.

    If you’re not going to get a Tempurpedic mattress then I would say get something in a reasonable price range. All spring mattresses look and feel the same to me, IMO.

  5. Best get it fixed. Environment Canada is calling for the coldest winter in 15 yrs and that new bed would be a good place to keep warm.

  6. Here’s another in support of buying a Chilton’s or Haynes book for your car.  As long as there are no warranty considerations, it’s always best to at least see if the work is something you can do yourself.  The manuals are reasonably priced and you can even find them used if you have decent used book stores anywhere around.  I’m not sure for your model, but windshield washer pumps are usually right up top under the windshield or between the windshield and the washer reserve tank, since they only have to be connected to the windshield washer tank, windshield sprayers, and the battery.

    I am by no means mechanically inclined, but with the help of two manuals and occasional advice or help from friends, I have managed several repairs on a chevy S-10 pick-up and a chevy cavalier.  For most models, it’s not very hard to learn to replace a few basic parts.  Oil+filter changes, air filter, spark plugs, plug wires, and distributor cap, fuel filter, fuel pumps, engine water pump(a bit of a pain, actually)  fan belts, even starters and alternators are accessible on many models.  The hardest part is usually just getting to the part that needs replacing, and the newer or smaller the car, the harder it can be.  As long as you are not messing with the engine itself, any mistakes are easy for a qualified mechanic to fix in a worst case scenario.

    All in all, I’d go for it-you might save a tidy bit of cash on labor, and you’ll teach yourself something useful.  The manuals are great to have just in case you need it,and a windshield washer pump shouldn’t be too hard unless it is inconveniently located. 

    One note for the future-changing your own brakes sucks donkey balls, IMO.  There really is a good reason it costs so much.

    One last thing- as lostalaska pointed out, doing some of your own work can be a help in dealing with mechanics as well.  A Chilton’s manual won’t make you an expert, but once you’ve done a repair or two, you gain some confidence and some knowledge, and shysters pick up on it.  Even if you’re just flapping your gums and don’t really know what you’re talking about, it shows that you are probably interested enough to double-check on them, and that you’re not just another terrified customer with your head in the sand.

  7. Get the Haynes manual.  I’ve got a Chilton for my Colt and it’s not very user freindly at all.  The Haynes I have for my MPV is much better as have all the previous Haynes manuals I’ve had for many previous cars.

  8. Ok, I’m sitting here laughing my ass off at myself.  Not 30 seconds after giving my $.02 worth, I was thinking to myself, “windshield washer pump, I’ve never actually changed one of those, but I seem to remember something…Oh Yeah!  The pump in my car hasn’t worked for the entire year I’ve had the car!” 

    I do have a good excuse, though-I live a few blocks from the beach here on the central coast, and the weather is so moderate that I only use the wipers about ten times a year or less.  I clean the windshield every time I get gas(no jokes, please)and if I need to get the windshield wet while driving, I just roll down the window and dump some water on it!  Lord, I’m ghetto!  I guess where you live, Les, rolling down the window to clean your windshield during the winter months isn’t so consequence-free as it is here.

    Seriously, though, I have done all the work listed in my previous entry, and basic stuff isn’t too hard.  Being that you have a bad back, you may want to start slow and be prepared to go to a mechanic if it gets to be too much-how hard the work will be on your back has most to do with the placement of the part and how long it takes to change it.

    Lastly, I found a link online with some good troubleshooting tips(toward the bottom)-doesn’t seem too scary!



    The second one has a complete troubleshoot to make sure it’s the pump causing the problem, not a fuse or blocked line.  After that , you may need a manual or a mechanically inclined friend!

  9. Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll be looking into one of the manuals to be sure. Still not sure what to do about the bed. Not sure if a store credit card would be any less painful than financing through one of the other stores I mentioned.

    Subhopping, I’ve thought of calling the B&B;a number of times, but it’s been 6 years since we were there and I don’t know if they’d still have the original mattresses or remember what they were. I may still give it a shot, though I feel kind of stupid saying “My wife and I stayed there 6 years ago and we loved the mattresses, what the hell were they anyway?”

  10. you might want to go to your local library. mine has a good number of chilton/hayes manuals. that might give you a better idea on whether you want to tackle the job yourself or hire it out.

    the following page indicates that access to the pump is best accomplished by removing the front passenger side wheel and then removing the fenderwell cover.



  11. …Anne and I spent our honeymoon what mattresses they were using as that is still the best nights rest I’ve had

    There’s a honeymoon joke in there LOL

    Phone them anyway. They may go to the same supplier all the time. Start with “I know this sounds really odd and it’s a bit of a longshot but I stayed with you 6 years ago, and your beds were really comfortable. I need to replace mine, can you tell me…”

  12. Yeah, it’s not like I’ve not made a fool of myself intentionally for lesser reasons. I’ll give them a call this weekend.

    Oddly enough, I’ll actually be relatively close to them this weekend as we’re headed up to my parent’s house and may make a stop in Birch Run at an outlet store not very far from Frakenmuth.

  13. Yeah, it’s not like I’ve not made a fool of myself intentionally for lesser reasons. I’ll give them a call this weekend.

    I’ve done that. More than once I’ve opened a conversation with a stranger with “I know this will sound really odd but…”

  14. I wish I could help you with the car, Les. It really shouldn’t be difficult to replace a simple non-critical fluid pump as long as you are in any way mechanically inclined. However, just remember that it will take you at least twice to three times as long to complete the job because you are not a pro at it. At least, that is my experience. Your mileage may vary. (Har, har.)

    On the mattress, though – well, my advice to you is to consider the thing an investment, just like you would your car or a house or an expensive appliance. If you can get a mattress that you love and will last for years, then you should go there. A good mattress is quite likely one of the most important investments you can make because it directly affects your health. (You know – sleep quality and whether your back lets you have a nice day when you get up.)

    Anyways, good luck in your endeavors, as always.

  15. I appreciate the sentiment, Ryan. With the snowstorm that just moved through and the fact that we’re looking at temps not rising much above the high 30’s for most of the week I’m giving serious thought to paying someone else to do it. I haven’t a garage or anything to work on the car in so I’d be laying on my back out in the cold to try it, probably not the best situation for a newbie mechanic. grin

  16. If you are still using your waterbed frame I would recommend getting rid of it for a box spring for your new mattress.  Most new mattresses will include the box spring and if it doesn’t, you can usually get them to throw it in for free.  A box spring is more forgiving on your mattress than the hard bottom of a water bed frame, and since the box spring absorbs some of the energy when you are tossing and turning, your mattress should last a bit longer (but perhaps that is urban legend).

    Buying a new mattress at a furniture store is a lot like buying a used car.  They always seem to have some sort of sale, or will offer to throw-in the box spring if you buy today, or if you apply for their credit card.  If you are shrewd, you can usually get them to shave off some money.  Of course, the discount stores suggested earlier are not quite as flexible. 

    Whatever you do, make sure you know the return policy for the mattress.  If they say they have a 30 day return policy, does that mean you get your money back?  Is there a ‘restocking’ fee?  My wife and I were persistent when we asked this question and, for most of the places we went to, we found out that the 30 day return policy means that you can only exchange the mattress for another within 30 days.  However, you cannot exchange the 2nd mattress, so you only have one chance to switch.  We bought a mid-firmness mattress for my bad back, found it to be a bit too squishy (I was woken up at 2 a.m. by my wife, standing next to my side of the bed and thrusting her hand under my butt to see how much I sunk in.  Strangely, she didn’t thing that was odd…)  We decided to switch to a firm.

    One last thing to think about if you decide to go with a King instead of replacing your queen.  You’ll need to buy a whole new sheet set because your current queen-sized set will (of course) be too small. 

    Good luck with the bed shopping!  You spend 25% or more of your life on that bit of furniture, so I hope you find a mattress that you and Mrs. SED both find comfortable!

    p.s. I’m pleased to see that Apple’s Safari browser now actually lets me post to the SEB forums.

  17. Les,

    I have a 97’ GP and have fixed just about everything that can go wrong myself. I’m almost certain the pump is mounted to the washer fluid resivoir. Let me scope it out and get back to you before someone charges you $75 an hour for a 5 minute job.


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