Monday, 6 July 2009

Oil Change the Second, Plus Miscellaneous Shenanigans

This post is a little overdue... we moved this past week in a flurry of boxes and tape and kind friends and rain and happiness. Yeah, that about sums that up for now.

But before we moved, I spent an evening getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and working on the car! And since I know you're as excited as I am to witness my reincarnation as a Diesel Dyke (TM), I offer here an account of the proceedings.

First, I drove with FG to the auto parts store and picked up some supplies, including a light bulb for a burned-out headlight. Then we made our way through heavy traffic out to her sister's place, where I got to work, washing our car and FG's sister's car while I waited for the engine to cool down.

My first order of business was replacing the air filter. It's screwed on with seven very rusted screws. I couldn't get them out with a screwdriver last time, but when I saw Dawn she pointed out that I could use my socket wrench on them. Um, right. Why didn't I think of that?

So that worked just fine. I'm not sure the air filter was really that dirty, though it was a little dirty, for sure. But I replaced it anyway, since I'd gotten all those screws off, and I was tired of carrying the new filter around. I also pulled some nut hulls out of the filter's casing. Like, five or six. I'm not too sure how they got there, but I guess it was a good thing to take them out?

Next up was the headlight. I was nervous about this, because I was flying solo, with only the owner's manual for guidance. First it said to remove a reservoir from a holder to give easier access to the bulb. After some tugging and tussling I got it free.

Next I was supposed to pull a clip off the bulb to detach it from the car's wiring. I fought with the thing for about fifteen minutes. I didn't want to break anything, of course, but damn, it was just not moving. Finally I asked FG and her sister to come out and give it a go. They tried, but nothing doing.

I was getting seriously frustrated. This was supposed to be so easy that it was actually in the manual--a manual that warns that only skilled mechanics should basically touch anything else at all. I asked myself, what would Dawn suggest? And I heard her voice in my head: "Brute force and ignorance." So I got out a small screwdriver and alternately coaxed and pushed the thing until, click! Off it came like it had never caused any trouble at all.

But alas! My sorrows with the headlight were not over, because I had bought the wrong size bulb. A strange thing about the auto parts store I go to. The clerks are generally very polite. They all seem to read me as female and to take a moment to realize I'm going to conduct this interaction in a masculine mode, not a feminine one; and once they realize that, they opt for that mode, too, and all is well. But in most cases the little exclamation-point-shaped cloud stays about their heads for the whole exchange.

This was the case with the pleasant middle-aged man who'd sold me the bulb. He was unfailingly friendly but definitely wrong-footed by the mysteries of my gender, which were in this instance amplified by FG's presence, all high femme with skirt and cleavage to match. So he mixed up a number and sent me home with a bulb that would not do at all.

Carefully I replaced the broken bulb. It was getting late and I did not have time to get to a store and exchange it, so the bulb would have to wait. Instead, I turned to the oil change, which went much faster this time since I pretty much knew what I was doing and could, you know, find the filter.

By the end I was one dirty butch. It turns out that if you wash your car on a dirt driveway, and then crawl under that car to change your oil, you will emerge not only oil- and grease-stained but soaked with mud as well. And in my case, thoroughly bitten by mosquitoes to boot. Luckily I had brought at least a change of t-shirt, and FG kindly dug out a towel for me to sit on while the three of us enjoyed supper.

A day or so later, I exchanged the bulb for the correct size (which I looked up myself, thank you very much), and replaced it parked outside a softball field in a tony suburb. The locals opted to stay out of it.

And so the car seems to have survived another bout at the hands of Mechanic MacCool.


B said...

Totally cool!!!

Jess said...

Way to go buddy!

Dawn on MDI said...

Oh, that's rich!

Marvelous telling! And congratulations on getting the headlight fixed. Yes, brute strength and ignorance will get you far in the world of auto repair, but it can be dangerous as well. Glass breaks into very sharp little pieces!

Loved the bit about the grease and oil AND mud! Fantastic! Also glad to hear the air filter finally got changed. Those nut hulls were likely left there by squirrels. They can FILL the air filter compartment with nuts if they decide they like your car and it can be a regular pain to clean them out all the time. And no, I have no idea how they get in there, I just know that they do. Wee little bahstids...

And in defense of the auto parts guy, skirts, heels and cleavage have been known to cause me to do more drastic things than grab the wrong box off a shelf. Cut the poor guy some slack.

Jen said...

Awesome! I love me a woman that can work on a car :) said...

ha! You go boi! lol

LilliGirl said...

You go! Wanna take on mine? lol

LL Cool Joe said...

Great to hear, Leo.

Dylan said...

That was a lot of car talk. I wish I could learn how to do mechanical stuff, I think it would be a lot of fun to get down and dirty with carburetors and air filters. And surely there is sex appeal in all that grease...

canihelpyousir said...

Sounds like a completely satisfying experience to be able to do all of that on your own. Makes me feel like an underachiever, dammit!