I had a minor personal triumph yesterday that was a long time coming. It all started last summer, on my birthday.
To set the stage, the layout of my neighborhood is a little odd. It’s a townhome complex with detached garages. The houses are set back from the street, with garages in front, opening directly onto the street-like driveway that runs through the complex. The garages are one-car, and pretty narrow (they were built in the 80s, when compact cars were common). You have to go in at just the right angle, but when I came home the day before, someone had been parked (illegally) in the drive just in front of my garage, meaning it was really tricky to get in, and I came in at a weird angle. The next morning, my birthday, I was rushing out to get to music and art camp, and I noticed someone driving way too fast down the drive. Meanwhile, I noticed another car heading toward me from the opposite direction. That meant when I backed out, I was really looking out for a car that might be coming and stewing over the fast driver, so I forgot I was at a different angle and soon heard a weird sound.
Yep, I’d hit the passenger-side mirror on the side of the garage doorway. It was more or less intact, except for the cover coming off the back, so I threw the cover in the car and went on to the church. I later realized that while it looked intact, the mechanism inside that controls the positioning of the mirror had snapped. I was pretty upset about it all because that’s not the way you want to start your birthday, and you really don’t want to get a new mirror for your birthday.
My friends who know more about this than I do said it shouldn’t be too hard to replace. I looked up some info about it, even found the replacement part. But I guess I just didn’t want to deal with it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I didn’t like to think about screwing up like that. A little black duct tape held it all in place, and I forgot about it. I might think about it when I was driving somewhere, but when I was at home where I could do something about it, I put it out of my mind.
But I was pretty sure the duct tape repair wouldn’t pass the state inspection, which I have to do before the end of March. I finally ordered the part online and figured that if I couldn’t change it myself, I’d at least save myself the markup on the part if I just had my mechanic install it. I watched a lot of YouTube videos about how to change it, and I was getting pretty nervous because some of them made it look like a big job. Sunday afternoon, I decided to tackle it, but I ran into a roadblock because the stuff inside the interior trim looked different than anything I’d seen in the videos. I finally figured it out late in the day, but then it turned out that I didn’t have the right tool to get to one of the bolts. I was either going to have to remove the interior door panel (which might also have required a new tool) or get a flat socket wrench that could fit into a narrow space—or pay someone with the tools to do it. The wrench was about $3.50 at Home Depot, so yesterday I went and got it, and I completed the repair pretty easily. All done in about 15 minutes once I had the right tool, and after months of fretting and stewing. I was even having nightmares about this.
I think maybe all those videos were counterproductive, aside from telling me how to remove that piece of interior trim to get at the mirror bolts. The repair jobs they were showing were total overkill, including removing door panels, dealing with stripped bolts, etc.
So, now I know how to do that one job, and I feel very accomplished. It’s such a relief to have that weight off me. I may tinker with the old mirror to see if there’s a way to fix it. Maybe if I’d known how to take it all apart back when it happened, I could have done something. There was too much tension on the mechanism with it attached to the car.
And now I can get my safety inspection done. I don’t think I want to open an auto repair shop, though I did find that my small hands were quite useful for working in tight spaces.