I fixed the car!

Ok, well, I fixed something really minor on the car...but I'm still REALLY excited about it.

So! Story time!

Sometime late last year, the outer door handle on the driver's side rear door (aka the door we always put Niko in and out of) just up and stopped working.  In trying to figure out what was wrong with it, we inadvertently flipped the child lock, so then that door was inaccessible from the outside or inside, which was a major bummer. So, we just started putting him in the other door.

But then, what should happen, but lo and behold a month later that outer door handle stopped working! Booo, hiss. 

So then we could only get Nikolai in and out of the car by reaching in from the front passenger side and pulling the inside door handle to open the door. That was majorly inconvenient but we did it anyways until...

(I know, you're thinking, "Can this get any worse?" The answer, my friends, is yes. Oh yes.)

The inside door handle stopped working. 


So now we could only get Nikolai in by climbing in the passenger side with a 30 pound toddler, reclining the seat, and hoisting him into his carseat in the back seat. 

Needless to say, this was severely aggravating, and my abs got super strong from all the hoisting. 

Anways, we knew this situation couldn't last (I mean, the kid is only going to get bigger and eventually we'll have another one, right? What will we do then?!), but we're students, and live on loans, so we're basically broke and have no money to pay a mechanic to pull our door apart. 

So, being the stubborn person that I am, I started researching online to figure out if I could do this myself! (After all, it had nothing to do with any of the integral workings of the car--if I destroyed the door, the car would still run the same)  After tons of putzing online, I found the operating manual for the car, which showed me (albeit vaguely) how to fix the door handle.

At this point, I got really excited, hoping I could really do this myself! I got on amazon, ordered new door handles, along with a tool to remove the door panel (it's attached with little clips and it's hard to remove it with another tool without damaging them).  Give or take $25 later, I was set. 

A few mondays ago, the weather was as close to freezing as it was going to get and Jesse was off school, so I left him inside with le sleeping toddler while I went to work. I got the inside door handle and the door panel off just fine, and got to the door handle and then spent hours trying to remove it.  One bolt on it was super easy to reach--the other, however, was buried in a tiny corner behind the locking mechanism--impossible to reach by hand, and at an awkward angle for a socket wrench. After tons and tons of maneuvering, I finally got the bolt off and removed the old handle. 

I was happy to see that it was indeed broken (so that my labors weren't in vain!)--the lever that connects to the locking mechanism to open the latch had snapped!

I put the new handle in the spot but then was face with a new problem--getting the new bolt into that terrible, tiny little spot. I needed Jesse's help at this point, to put some pressure on the handle from the outside so I could get some grip, but Nikolai had woken up, so we dropped him off at the neighbor's so we could take "10 minutes" to pop the bolt in really quick. 

Well, 10 minutes turned into an hour as we discovered that bolt did NOT want to go in! Whatever we did, we couldn't get the bolt to catch, and we couldn't get our hands in there to help it along. On top of that, it had gotten colder, so our feet and hands were freezing, making it hard to work. 

After an hour, we admitted defeat. We went inside, thinking we'd have to just cave in and take it to a mechanic, and I'll admit, feeling like I had failed made me really frustrated. 

Unfortunately/fortunately, it was hard to find time to take it to a mechanic, so we put it off for awhile--but in the meantime, Jesse got the idea that if we could maybe just use someone's warm garage where our hands weren't freezing off, there was a chance we could still get the bolt in on our own. 

Finally, last Saturday, we asked our kind friends Michelle and Greg if they'd let us use their garage (and watch Niko while we worked!) so we could give it one more go. They graciously accepted (and actually thanked us for asking and fed us lunch afterwards? They are so good and kind!!!) and we got to work.  The first part of the hour was really frustrating, and we really thought we wouldn't be able to do it, but somewhere in the middle I decided that maybe I could plunge my hand into that tiny little space and contort it around to get the screw in.  The first few attempts just failed miserably and hurt my hand, but with a little more contortion I finally got the bolt to catch! 


You guys, I was so happy I almost cried (I guess saving money means a lot to me? Or, more likely, accomplishing something I set my mind to).  With the bolt finally in, we quickly put the rest of the door back together and replaced the inner door handle.  With a cheer, we opened and shut the door from the inside and outside.  I still nearly cheer every time I'm able to open the door to put Nikolai in the car. :)

So, a few closing thoughts:

1) I'm super proud of myself. Like, really, ridiculously proud.

2) HOW ON EARTH do mechanics do this?? They must have some special tool because there ain't no way their hands would fit in there! 

3) We are most definitely going to fix the other door handle ourselves...but we are more definitely going to wait until spring :D

Hip hip hooray! 
Hip hip hooray! 
Hip hip hooray! 


ivrcti said…
I am tremendously proud of my daughter!!! I know your grandpa must be up in Heaven, just beaming!!! Congratulations on a job well done!
Maren said…
That is really impressive!
Anna said…
You are so brave!! Way to go!
julis said…
You are such a stubborn missy! Good for you! Hip hip hooray indeed.
julis said…
I tried this once, but I'm apparently not as smart as a robot. You are super stubborn, and I mean that as a compliment. Don't give up,never ever give up (because you can do it)! Hip hip hooray indeed.
Messy Musings said…
you gots skills!! :-D
Kylie said…
That's awesome!! I confess, our cars are the one thing we don't save money on - they go straight to the mechanic because it's just too complicated and hard for us to figure out. :) Good for you for not giving up!!

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