Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Evidence that TV can at least inspire you to try to do new things on your own

I grew up in a world where working on cars was meant to be done by professionals wearing overalls and holding dirty, oily rags in their back pockets.  This was because cars were complicated machinery that needed precise tools and training on how to use said tools.  Therefore, I didn't really bother to even attempt to ever do anything with a car because I didn't have the tools or the training to work on one.  Or the overalls.

However, I've been completely and totally addicted to the proper Top Gear (ie, the UK version).  For those that haven't seen the show, watch it.  I caught it totally by accident while I was sewing and found myself in laughing fits within a few minutes.  All three guys (the UK version of the three stooges, seriously) are able to show cars as something not scary, not mysterious, and not complicated.  They easily explain why one car is better than another, why things like horsepower and speed might actually be important in your car buying pursuits, and they also show that building or changing up a vehicle isn't brain surgery.    They do some pretty amazing and pretty ridiculous things to the vehicles they are given and explain what they've done.  It's not always err...good, but it is always amusing. 

Watching the show took the mystisim out of car mechanics for me.  They've shown it's just like any other craft project - you just need to figure out what you want to do and start.   Given I've tried almost every craft project out there (sewing, spinning, woodworking, sculpting, ect) and I've built things like desktop computers, after watching the show, it seemed silly to freak out over the horror stories I had heard about working on a car yourself.  (Like changing the oil and going right through the oil pan)

So, with that in mind, I made up my mind to actually fix my broken taillight myself.  Now when I say broken, I mean:

This is, of course, after I took it out.  What happened was I came out of Target to find the passenger taillight like this and a nice big new dent about top of your average shopping cart high right on the passenger side of my Ford Explorer.   No note.  Nothing around.  Just a very broken taillight and a new dent with some paint scraps.  

I wasn't worried about the dent or the paint - I'm not quite that vain about my truck- but I was worried about the taillight.  Originally, I was told it would be $1000+ to fix the truck.   Instead, I opted for some see thru red tape that you can get at Auto Zone and put that over the broken part.  That worked for a few months but eventually the tape became unsticky.   Also, I want to take my truck through the car wash, darn it!

So, I shopped around and finally found a passenger taillight assembly for $85 total.  It was on Amazon so no shipping fees, yay!  Much better than the original $125 I found and far better than the $200 the shop told me was just for the light ($300 for labor, of course! The rest was for getting the dents out and paint).  It came yesterday but I was sick and really, truly, could not move more than from the sofa to the bed.

Today, thanks to the miracle that is hot tea, I'm feeling much better and figured I'd try and figure this taillight thing out.  After all, how hard could it be? So I went to the world wide web and looked up a few website to see how difficult this really was and exactly what I was getting myself into.  Turns out, it's stupid simple.  This was the video I used to figure out exactly what I was going to do. 

Basically, there are two screws that hold the taillight in place.  These screws are visible from the tailgate area.  You take those out.  You then wiggle the taillight out.  You twist and pop out the lights themselves pop them into the new assembly, pop the new assembly back above the bumper, and screw it all back into place.  Seriously, I've had IKEA furniture that makes this look like a kindergartener's homework. 

Here are the super complicated (I need training!) tools I used:

The only reason I needed to use the flathead screwdriver was because I needed to wedge something small beneath the taillight in order to get the taillight assembly to line up with where the screws went into the truck frame.   It worked perfectly.

The one complication was that on the broken taillight, one of the metal stays that is meant to go into the plastic taillight and secure it to the truck frame had broken off completely:
You can see the top metal stay/screw in the near dead center upper part of the photo.  Where my fingers are pointing is where the other one should be.  Luckily, the new taillight assembly came with two new metal stays/screws so I didn't have to attempt to yank the one in the photo above or the one in the broken piece of plastic out.  Because that would not have been fun.

All and all, it took about ten minutes to pop out the old assembly and pop in the new one.  That includes me going back in the house to grab the flathead screwdriver because the holes would not aline properly.  Here's the new taillight on the truck:
So, yeah, the dent is still there.  However, I can now take the truck through the car wash without any worries.  Woohoo!  (And it didn't cost me $1000 to fix. ;-) )

And with that bombshell (a la Top Gear), Good Night!


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