Self reliance and car repairs

So this post isn’t about woodworking or sewing, but whatever I do what I want! My car is a 2006 Scion xA named Pip – named after the adorable chipmunk from the movie Enchanted. I’m a very self reliant person and I believe in trying to do/fix something yourself when possible. Two years ago I needed new front brakes; when I got a quote it was almost $400. I freaked! In a panic I called my dad and bitched to him about this cost, he calmly reminded me that he’s been changing his own brakes for years and it’s not that hard. I was concerned about changing my own brakes, I would mess it up, I wouldn’t be able to get everything back together, something would go wrong! I didn’t want to do it on my own, I wanted him there to help me. As luck would have it, he was already planning on visiting me in a few weeks. Before he arrived I bought new rotors and pads for about $120, and a metric socket set – come on America, can we please get on board with metric!? Dad walked me through the first side and I completed the second side almost entirely on my own. The only thing I needed help with was breaking the lug nuts that were holding on the rotor, they were frozen and required more strength than I had to get them off. It was incredibly satisfying to change my own brakes and now I know I can save myself a bunch of money in the future. Although, I would probably need to watch a refresher video.

Terrible picture, but proof that I changed my own brakes!

Last summer Pip started to have some problems. It started when Zach was in the passenger seat and I turned out of the parking lot he shouted, “ahhhhhh!” My initial thoughts were “omg what is happening, did we just crash, is there some invisible car I didn’t see, IS THERE A SPIDER IN MY CAR?” It turns out that Zach’s feet got soaked with water, not something you expect to happen INSIDE a car. I quickly pulled over and tried to locate the source of the water. It appeared to be coming from somewhere under the glove box. After searching the internet for days, I thought that maybe it was caused by a clogged A/C drain. I tried to clear the drain, but there didn’t seem to be a clog. The next time it rained my floor mat was wet. I didn’t know why my car was leaking, maybe a seal wore out from old age, but if that was the case I didn’t know how to fix it. I resigned myself to the fact that my car would leak a little bit when it rains, inconvenient, but not the end of the world.

Glove box removed, the blower unit is white with the engine control unit underneath

About a month late my car’s fan decided that it was only going to work on high. Again, this wasn’t the biggest problem because my heat still worked, it just had to be blasting like a fan at a photo shoot, just not as glamorous. After consulting the internet – I don’t know what I would do without the internet – I learned that it was probably my blower motor resistor. It was a relief to find out that the replacement part was only $20. I headed over to the closest auto parts store and surprised the crap out of the gentleman working there when I was able to clearly describe my problem and tell him that I needed a blower motor resistor. Side note, I really enjoy going into hardware stores in my dress clothes- it confuses the employees when I don’t need assistance and know exactly what I’m looking for.

Engine Control Unit unscrewed – the red arrow is for reference – the resistor is to the left of this white piece hanging down

It turns out that replacing the blower motor resistor is not an easy task. Pip is tiny and therefore everything has to get crammed in there. It took me a while to ascertain the exact location, but I finally found where this part lives; it’s under the glove box near the fan unit. Getting to the resistor was not an easy task. I had to unscrew the engine control unit or ECU, which was daunting because I didn’t want it to come unplugged and then not know which plug went where. Once the ECU was moved to the side I was able to see the resistor. When I removed it I could clearly see that it had blown – I forgot to take a picture of this which is a bummer because it was cool to see. I was excited that I had correctly diagnosed the problem and was able to fix it. Or so I thought…. I excitedly reassembled everything, turned on my car, and nothing! The problem was exactly the same. The blower still only worked on high!

Red arrow for reference, the blue arrow is the blower motor resistor – very hard to access

At this point it was getting dark and I had been upside down too long. I didn’t know what to do, the resistor was clearly the problem, but the new one didn’t seem to fix it. The next few times I drove my car it felt like there was some air blowing at the lower settings, so it appeared that the new resistor was kind of working. Then one day when I had been driving for about 30 minutes I heard a funny noise near the glove box, then all of the blower settings worked again. Waahooo! I was so excited, but also perplexed. Why now, what changed, what was the noise? I’m still not sure, but here’s my theory: I think an animal got into my car and caused some problems. When I was fixing the resistor I also changed my cabin air filter. It was filthy and had a significant amount of hair on it. I think a little rodent must have thought that my car was a great place to live. I think the noise I heard was something in the blower motor getting dislodged. I’m still not sure if the water and the blown resistor are related, but I do suspect that my rodent friend might have chewed through something and caused the leaks.

This is totally normal right?

My problem is not completely resolved, I should probably figure out how to prevent my car from leaking when it rains, but I fixed my blower motor resistor – so take that! What I wanted to convey in this post is that we are all capable of being more self reliant. I don’t know much about cars, but with attention to detail and the ever helpful internet, I was able to diagnose and fix my problem for $20. Thank you to everyone who stopped by, I really appreciate it. Over the last month and a half my blog has gotten 514 views by 280 people from 13 different countries. That’s amazing!

Views from countries around the world, very exciting!

I can identify friends in some of these counties, but I’m pretty sure I don’t know anyone who is in France, Malaysia, or some of the other countries. So thank you to my friends who are kind enough to read my ramblings, and all my unknown friends who stumbled across my blog – drop a line, I’d love to meet you.

As I mentioned in my last post, wedding season is approaching and I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to blog in the month of May. There are 4.5 weekends in May (May 1st is on a Sunday) and Zach and I will be attending 4 weddings. I do have one free weekend, so maybe I’ll be able to get some projects done during that time. Until next time!


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