My Dad is a mechanic, he spent nearly every weekend when I was a child tinkering or fixing neighbours and friends cars. You’d think some of his mechanical nouse would have transferred to me.
These hands haven’t seen a hard days work, engine deep in oil EVER. They are much more suited to being curled around my mouse, or tapping away at my keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, I love the geeky side of the ‘umble motor, playing around with Diagnostics and Stats streaming out of the OBD2 port of my trusty bus. The dirty bits though, they just don’t float my boat.
I can do the standard ‘man stuff’, change a tyre, top up fluids, check brake pads much more though, I’m clueless. Dad has always been around to help me with the minor car woes, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve rung him up and started with ‘Daaaaaaaaaadddd.. The car isn’t working – can you come and look?’. Dad is getting on a bit (sorry Dad!), and not as fit as he once was, so I’m trying to fend for myself a little more with the bigger jobs.
My car isn’t new, whilst it has the whizzy computery bits, it’s fairly straightforward, and owing to the size, pretty easy to access stuff too. A problem that has plagued my car since we had it was the ABS light – it would intermittently come on. Usually if the road was wet. I diagnosed the fault with this great bit of kit – the error code was –
‘C0040 – Front Right Wheel Sensor Open Circuit ‘
Basically the speed sensor on the front right wheel was throwing spurious data – ie. it was screwed. No one likes to drive around with dodgy ABS. I looked through the car’s service history and found that this was an old fault that had never been repaired by a previous owner. Doing a bit of Googling I found this was a normal fault for a car of its age, and even more annoying the sensor was fixed to the hub itself. A new hub from Vauxhall was just shy of £200 for what I needed – plus the fitting charge. I’m tight, I wasn’t prepared to pay for that – I found a 3rd party version with good reviews online for £50.
I researched into how complex it would be to fit a replacement – 45 mins I was told on one forum. That sounded fine. I enlisted the assistance of my Semi Pro Car Tinkering friend Ben and on Saturday, we embarked on changing the hub over.
It was Hell.
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong – bolts were seized, things were difficult to access, when we’d overcome one problem and another would quickly follow. We were taking it a bit slowly because Ben what to explain what bits of the car we were looking at, it was all pretty new to me. Nearly four hours after we started. The bloody thing was ON.
It was a massive relief! Thing was though, that wasn’t the end, the problems continued, it was a struggle to get everything back on, and once we had, there was a tremendous clacking noise on the test drive. It was fast approaching near SEVEN HOURS that we’d been working on it, both of us were tired, filthy and a bit narked with it all. Ben didn’t give up though, he found the source of the noise, the brakes were rubbing on something or other, some gentle adjustments got things back to where they should be. It was DONE!
After eight hours – this was how I looked – you really can’t comprehend how filthy I was, and the smell of ‘car maintenance’ from me was immense.
I was tired, grumpy, achey, hungry and in need of a shower. As I cleaned off, I actually thought, despite how long it all took, and how difficult it was..
I actually enjoyed it. I felt proud that I’d fixed something, and it all worked, and will probably now be fixed for the lifetime of the car. My hands are still aching, but..