White Flag

I was tempted to create a new category for this entry: DIY Fail.

But I didn’t. Not because everything worked out but because I tried — really, truly, blood-and-guts tried — and it didn’t work out, so that’s really not a fail.


My car died the other night. Twice. The first time, we — meaning me, Honey and G — replaced the battery and everything was just peachy. The second time there was no resuscitating the car.

A quick call to my dad followed, who echoed my suspicions: the alternator was kaput. This is where I should have called the towing service and had my minivan taken to a mechanic. Instead, I heard these words from my dad: “You could probably replace the alternator yourself. It would save a ton of money.”

DIY+saving money. This is like the equation to my happy place. (Never mind my ongoing need to seek approval from my dad, which I later realized also factored in.) So, like any 21st century technonut, I promptly went home and settled in for a night of Google research. Replacing the alternator certainly looked easy enough. “I could totally do this!” I told myself and then Honey.

Notice that I have not bounced this idea off any rational human being who is not a man at this point. Instead, I continued to research and bolster my inner can-do spirit.

I spent Tuesday afternoon alternately searching for tools, buying the right tools and reaching my hands into the recesses of my vehicle’s hood in an attempt to extricate the aforementioned alternator. I should point out that one of my first steps was to call my dad and ask where to find the alternator. (Obviously I was continuing to ignore the clues that this might be a Bad Idea.)

After much pushing, pulling, cussing and muttering, G and I finally managed to get the last connection free — approximately five hours after I started — only to discover … we could not get the alternator out. At all. As in, there was no freaking way that big hunk of metal could physically escape the boundaries of its space.

Did I give up? That’d be NO. (Again, ignoring the very obvious that this is a BAD Idea.)

No, I woke up at 5 a.m. today, plotting my trip to buy yet another tool that might let me dismantle the piece o’ carp and get it out. You know how daylight savings time just started? It’s pretty darned dark at 6 a.m., and even 7, since the sun doesn’t rise until about 7:30. Obviously, I’d wait until the sun came up to get started.

Have you not been reading along? Because I appear to have zero common sense during the entire escapade and that’s not going to end now.

The point at which I finally realized “This is a BAD IDEA” was around 7 a.m., when I’ve been standing in the dark, with a flashlight held in my teeth, trying to get the ever-loving, stupid freaking alternator out of my car for AN HOUR. An hour, in the dark, with a flashlight in my mouth and my hands all greasy and cut up from rooting around under the hood of my car for about six hours. This is my breaking point.

I slapped one bolt through the alternator to hold it in place, wrapped up the rest of the hardware in a towel and plopped it in the car. Then I called the mechanic and the towing service. Which is probably what I should have done in the first place.

Oh, but wait. I haven’t gotten to the best part yet! When I told the mechanic what had happened and that I thought it was the alternator he said, “I doubt it’s the alternator. We never have Odysseys come in here with alternator problems.”

The moral of the story: Call a girlfriend the next time I entertain one of these Big, BAD Ideas so she can talk some sense into me, preferably while we get mani-pedis (it’s going to take weeks for my poor hands to heal).

7 Replies to “White Flag”

  1. Oh, no! Sorry it didn’t work out, but I applaud your efforts anyway. We need to learn to do more for ourselves, IMHO, but auto work is one of those lines I choose not to cross. Manis/pedis sound much more fun! πŸ™‚ Melissa
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..4:00pm… Spring Break 2010 =-.

  2. Ouch. Hope your hands are ok and that you can find another use for your new tools.

    My husband and I always attempt the DIY projects around the house. It usually ends up looking worse than it did before we started or never gets finished. πŸ™‚ I was just thinking earlier today that the extra money is worth it. It just sucks to have to fork it out, lol.

    Hope all turns out well!
    .-= Lisa Summerhays´s last blog ..Squigglefly Challenge 40- Let It Snow Card =-.

  3. Yikes, you are much braver than I! But I knew that. Just let me push a button to start my car. That’s why my honey and his friends are CarGuys!! LOL Hope you heal quickly.

  4. Even though it didn’t work out, you rock for giving it a try! My hubby changed otu 3 alternators in my old Hondas back in the day. For you to try is great!

    Of course, that could have been valuable sewing time…. πŸ˜‰

  5. you are cracking me up. Totally sounds like something that would happen at my house. And we’d spend tons of $ to get all the right tools and parts too. LOL – sometimes it pays to have the work done for you. πŸ™‚

  6. I applaud you! It’s been years since we did car maintenance ourselves. When we used to do car maintenance ourselves, my husband had manuals on our cars that listed step by step how to remove parts, etc. They saved us MANY a time. Like when we replaced a battery in our old convertible. Who on earth thought putting the battery in a place only accessible by removing the wheel, the compartment behind the wheel, and then still have to wedge it out?

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