Monday, August 05, 2013

My own personal mechanic

Yesterday we drove to church and everything was fine and dandy but when we got into our car to come home, things were a lot different...and hotter. In fact, our car was blazing hot, having just sat in the sun for three hours. Andrew turned on the A/C to help cool things down a bit but that only served to fan the flames, so to speak. Hot air was blasting in our faces because the air would only blow if it was on full force.

"Turn it off!" I pleaded with Andrew. "It's so hot!"

"No," he said. "Moving air feels better than stagnant air."

"But it's blowing hot air," I pointed out.

"It'll cool off," he insisted.

Five minutes later, when the air was still as hot as ever is when he finally turned off (and left off) the air and unrolled his window instead. And it was so much better. It was quite obvious our air conditioner had encountered a problem.

Within minutes of arriving home, Andrew had diagnosed the problem, figured out which part to buy, where to get it, and how to install it. He also figured out what's wrong with our clock—it's never had a backlight and we always found this to be irrationally irritating. "Who designed this dashboard?!" we wondered—everything else glowed at night, just not the clock. Sheesh.

And this has been a problem since we first got the van (when the engine of the black car exploded all over the highway). We've been feeling angry about that clock for two and a half years!

Turns out, there's simply a tiny little ($1) lightbulb back there that had burned out.

(Heartfelt apologies to the designer(s) of our dashboard who we may have cursed aloud during late night excursions (like this, "Curse you, dashboard designer!").

This morning Andrew loaded the girls into the van (leaving me and Benjamin sleeping because Benjamin screamed until 5 AM for no apparent reason and didn't sleep soundly after that), dropped Rachel off at school, and then took Miriam to RadioShack (for the lightbulbs) and to AutoZone for the A/C part.

Half an hour and $80 later and we had ourselves a working van!

The problem was with our "A/C heater blower motor resistor." I guess Honda makes a habit of using cheap parts in the original construction of their vehicles, knowing they'll conk out eventually, and then they sell you a better quality replacement part. So far all of our fixes have been super common problems with super easy fixes and word on the street is that the replacement part works better and lasts longer.

That was the case when our brake light sensor broke. The salesman told us they install a cheap version and then make us buy the more expensive version to fix it. It almost makes sense to do that—it lowers their manufacturing costs dramatically but doesn't immediately affect the performance of the vehicle—though it also smacks of dishonesty for some reason.

The old "blower motor resistor" only had two cooling panels. The new part we got has four cooling panels. For this part, the more surface area, the better. Obviously having four panels would offer more surface area than two. That part was about $75. It took fifteen minutes for Andrew to install. The trickiest part, he said, was finding a short enough screw driver to be maneuverable under the glove compartment.

The bulb for the clock's backlight came in a two pack and cost $2. It also took about fifteen minutes for Andrew to fix (because he had to pull apart the entire dashboard to get to it).

This brings the total number of car fixes up to four since we've moved here and thanks to the internet Andrew's been able to figure out how to do them all. He's just that handy (though if we ever actually encounter a problem with the engine, I'm not sure we'll attempt a self-fix). 

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you have such a handy husband to do these tasks!