Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No User Serviceable Parts

Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable - Kyle Wiens
A few weeks ago I took my car into for its standard maintenance. They pointed out that one of the systems was leaking and said it wouldn’t be a problem as long as I wasn’t taking any long trips and sticking around for mild bay area weather. I was doing neither so I had them make the fix. They didn’t tell me my headlight was out, which would have been useful, because the next day on my drive from Redwood City to Bishop I got pulled over THREE TIMES for having a headlight out.
The first time I was pulled over on the way into Yosemite by the park patrol. I had no clue why he pulled me over, but he let me know that my headlight was out. No big deal, just get it fixed. About an hour later on the other side of Yosemite I was pulled over the second time. If only these park rangers had some sort of system to communicate with each other over radio waves. The second park ranger let me on my way too; no fix it ticket, just a reminder that it was unsafe. In Bishop, when the third law enforcement office asked me if I knew why he pulled me over I let him know, “it’s probably because I have a headlight out. That’s the reason I got pulled over twice in Yosemite.” He chucked and asked, “when we was the last time you were pulled over?” “About an hour and a half ago.” “Well that’s not so bad. You should get that fixed.”
I tweeted about it and got lots of, “you should change you headlight dummy!” It turns out that there weren’t a lot of AutoZone’s open between Yosemite and Bishop from 9pm to midnight. Even if there were, they probably didn’t have the part.
I spent an hour taking apart my car to get to the headlight. The car manual was worthless. “Open and disconnect the lamp” was not a useful Step #1 so I proceeded to YouTube and watched video after video. There were two types of video’s out there. Type #1 - “I am awesome. Let me demonstrate how I can change the headlight in less than 2 minutes” and Type #2 - “This is really hard and because of the tight spaces involved I cannot get a video of this, but let me describe how it feels.” The only problem in making the change is that there is only about an inch and half of space to fit in a hand to work with and that is not enough space to fit a camera to show what the heck is going on - so removing the headlight cover, disconnecting the electrical cable, detaching the metal pins and removing it is all an operation of tactile hope. Oh - also I had to remove multiple panels from the engine case.
After the hour of excitement I had the bulb in hand and went to AutoZone. $102 and a special order that would take a couple days to arrive. So I called the Toyota dealership. $74 and a special order that would take a couple days to arrive. REALLY?!?
This morning I put the whole car back together again in about twenty minutes. I hope it will be easier this weekend when I try again.