Up In The Air
1991 Mitsubishi Delica L300 Exceed Turbo Diesel

Up In The Air

2020, Feb 18    

When you buy a nearly 30 year old vehicle, you better be prepared to maintain it. When you buy one from another continent, you better be prepared to do ALL the work on it, including finding parts. I don’t think I would do this without the “InterWebs”:-)

“Up In The Air” means the Power Slug is up on jack stands for the first time while I address the first significant mechanical problem since the 9 hour drive from Philly back in June of 2019. She’s been sturdy and reliable. That hearty little diesel power plant has fired up on the first crank every. single. time. But as diesels will, she protests mightily in the deep cold, with a clatter that sounds like every bolt is coming loose. Belching blue smoke for a moment or two, until she shakes off the frost and settles down with a purr.

In the past few weeks, however, I began to notice a bit of wobble, both in the steering wheel, and the brakes. Oddly, it only seems to manifest after a few minutes of driving; a gentle, rhythmic wobble in the steering, and then also a throb in the brakes with a matching frequency. I also began to notice squeaking any time I was backing, and the squeak also came at the same frequency as the wobble/throb… they all matched. There was much hypothesizing… wheel balance issue? dying wheel bearing? bent axle?

Further observations; she wasn’t free-rolling very well. At speed, when engaging the clutch, she slowed dramatically, as opposed to observing inertia. Acceleration was inhibited and mileage was also now suffering. When presented to the Delica Owners USA group page, these symptoms were commonly met with the same response… seized brake piston. With this information, I set off to validate.

Up she went on the floor jack, jack stands slid into place after referencing the jacking locations in the service manual. Yes, I have a complete workshop manual for this beast, again, thanks to the InterWebs. Both front wheels came off, and wouldn’t you know it, the passenger side (left side, since it’s RHD) wheel took all my strength to get it to rotate even the tiniest amount. Yep, seized brake caliper piston. I’ve literally been driving with the brakes on for weeks. Luckily, this thing shares a lot of parts with the Montero, so finding a brake caliper and pads online wasn’t terribly difficult. With the service manual in hand and plenty of YouTubing, it was time to replace a brake caliper and pads, and bleed the brakes (with Collin’s help, thanks kiddo!).

So, while doing the brakes, I also found the source of a random rattle that I couldn’t previously identify. Seems the lower shock bushing on the same side is shot. I guess I know what the next blog post will be about :-)