Despite being told that a new starter for my car would cost $310, I was able to find one at the local parts shop for $120, including a lifetime warranty. I wanted to call the dealership and flaunt my resourcefulness, however karma does a pretty good job without my tempting.
The packaging of my new starter contained instructions for the replacement of the old one, and these only bolstered my undue confidence. They read as follows:
1. Remove positive cable from starter
2. Remove mounting bolts and remove starter from vehicle
3. Mount starter
4. Reconnect electrical connections
That’s 1 nut and 2 bolts that I needed to remove and replace. And according to said instructions, once the vehicle was jacked up, the starter would be inches from my face.
I hope I have conveyed at this point how easy this was supposed to be.
With the car in place and on jacks, I shimmied underneath to pluck the ripe starter from the engine.
My first thought was that my car, in fact, did not have a starter. I wormed back and forth underneath the engine, flashlight darting between the unknown parts and cables while I searched for “a round canister with electrical wires connected to it“.
Confused, I continued my search from the top, leaning and bobbing over the engine. No round canisters.
I took a deep breath and went back under.
And there it was.
To equate my frustration at its location, it is the equivalent of going to the store, asking for an apple, and having the clerk tell you, “Oh no problem, the apples are just over there.”
And just over there is an orchard. In Mordor.
Staring blankly at the demon for a few minutes, I realized that if I had to pick the exact nucleus of the engine compartment, the starter would be it.
Conferring with my father in law, I decided to check Google for magical tricks that would aid me in my quest to Mordor. The only knowledge I gleaned is that venturing beyond page two of the search results is folly.
If it wasn’t for my vow to learn car repair, I would have taken it to the dealership that instant, justifying the compromise with the money saved in buying the part myself.
Stupid, stupid hobbit…..
To help those of you who have made similarly misguided vows, I have rewritten the instructions that came with my starter to more accurately reflect the task and time required.
1. Locate starter (20 min)
2. See if you can even touch the starter (5 min)
3. Locate bolts mounting the starter (15 min)
4. Fast and pray about how to reach the bolts (10 min)
5. Loosen bolts with frankenstein socket ratchet (60 min)
6. Expect starter to dangle loose. Escalate to yanking. (10 min)
7. Discover mystery screw not mentioned anywhere still holding starter in place (15 min)
8. Strip out the screw, pack up, go home and ponder life’s choices (8 hours)
9. Give screw ultimatum and when it loosens, let starter fall into your face (30 min)
10. Halfway done, channel car genius mojo and install new starter (15 min)
11. Bask in the glow of dirty hands and bonus manhood points (multiple years)
As I mentioned in my last post, owning a car sucks. But after this adventure, despite resembling Gollum towards the end, a new world opened to me in the car ownership dynamic.
My 2002 Infiniti G20 is now my most favorite car I’ve owned. I have seen, fondled and fixed its innards. We now have a special “I’ve seen you naked” bond.
Even more surprising, I look forward to more things breaking.
In a year or two.