Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mr. Goodwrench I Am Not

Two years ago the air conditioner in my car failed, a mechanic told me that would cost over $1,000 to replace the compressor which had seized up. Considering that is about 50% of what my car is worth I opted not to do it. I can be stubbornly cheap like that. Besides even if I had an extra thousand bucks laying around I can think of a lot more exciting things than air conditioner compressor for an aging Subaru Legacy to spend it on.

Because of this I had to endure a 20 minute unairconditioned commute in the full heat of a Southern Arizona summer. For two summers I endured this torture. I would arrive home totally drenched in sweat, the only thing that allowed to keep my sanity was jumping into the nice and cool pool. For two sweltering summers I endured this, to cheap shell out the grand to fix it.

Facing the prospect of enduring a third summer of this hell, I got on the Internet to see if I could find any cheaper solutions to my problem. Much to my surprise and delight I discovered that a junkyard in Pennsylvania was selling the part I need for $26 on E-bay. This brought up a new problem I would I have to install the part myself.
My father is like a crazy cross between Mr. Goodwrench and McGuyver. I remember one time when I was very young that our car quit working while we were on a trip in the Mountains. My father looked under that hood, then went and cut a branch from a tree. He then whittled it down into a shape and size that he wanted and plut it somewhere in engine, some how this fixed the problem, the car ran, and we went home.

I inherited none of my fathers mechanical aptitude, something that always made me feel kind of inadequate. Previous attempts by me to repair my own car have ended badly, often very badly. But the chance to save so much money and to perhaps redeem my self in my own eyes proved to much to resist, so Saturday morning I popped open the hood and set about replacing my A/C compressor.

The old one came out very easily, things are always easy to uninstall. Then I began the process of putting the new one in. I began the process of installing the new one and things went very well, and got to the final step, the installation of a belt. By this point I was feeling pretty damn good about my self and began to swagger around the garage. There of course is only one inevitable conclusion to such hubris.

While tightening the very final bolt, I neglected to pay to attention to how tight the bolt was getting. Just like that the plastic receiver that bolt was going into snapped, I howled with rage and frustration. This not being the first time that life has taught me this particular lesson. Sigh, why must I be such a god damn idiot.

After consultation with my father on the phone, it became apparent the situation was not as dire as I had first feared. The piece that had broke was not critical but rather a convenience in tensioning the A/C belt, a process that I would now have to do by hand. A process that that turned out to be a pain in the ass and painful, but in the end I accomplished it.

So now my car has air conditioning, I saved a butt load of money, and more or less completed and auto repair project successfully. This all makes me very happy. Still the whole experience has sterengthend my desired to have as little to do with what is under the hood of car as possible. I will never understand car guys, working cars for fun seems like doing your taxes just for fun.


O'Donovan said...

We have the same car!

> Sigh, why must I be such a god damn idiot.

And the same world view!

Lauren said...

A story well told. I love it!