Getting in the Auto Zone…Again

Had more adventures with my car this week. I recently discovered that my hazard lights no longer work. Just after that, the car lock remote stopped working and the internal locking system followed suit.

It should be noted that until last year, I the car I drove was a glorified wind up toy. So when I was told that I needed to find the electrical panel to see of a fuse was blown, clearly I was confounded. Luckily, I made a swift recovery, and figured out where it was with the help of my friend Sara.

Of course, we had no idea how to tell which fuses worked and which didn’t, and I wasn’t about to try. I headed to the AutoZone in Alexandria on Sunday afternoon to see if they could help. That’s when I met St. Lemus of the automobiles. See below.

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Well, actually, his name was just Lemus, but he was a saint to me. He came out and helped me figure out which fuses (2) were busted and then helped me replace them.

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It turns out fuses are pretty cheap! I got a value pack for $7.99 plus tax, and it even included a fuse tester (that’s the yellow thing). We used a handy-dandy little guide from the box in my car to get the right fuses in their place. In 30 minutes, I was out the door with a working car remote.

Unfortunately, the hazards still aren’t working, so I’m going to need to tackle that this week. I think it might be a wiring problem. Not sure that I can figure this one out on the cheap, but I’m going to try! Any ideas on where to start??

Mechanical Mastermind – Car Repair 101

You would not BELIEVE what the Discountess did today. Earlier week, when I was driving to a holiday party, one of my headlights went out. Cars are always wonderful until they saddle you with an unexpected expense. Thankfully, a headlight change is rather minor, but it’s still money that I’d rather spend on something else.

I started thinking that I could go to an auto parts store to buy the light and that would help cut out the cost. When I was doing my research, I came across all of these blogs where people explained how to changed the bulb themselves. Every single one said that all you had to do was pop out the bulb to replace it. Well, I can pop out a bulb. I mean, ANYONE can pop out a bulb. So arming myself with my owner’s manual, I headed to Advance Auto Parts in Arlington where I met Christian, store manager by day and mechanical hero by night. He helped me find my bulb and some gloves (apparently you can’t handle a halogen bulb with bare hands – who knew?), and then he graciously agreed to supervise me while I replaced the bulb in my car.

While I’m currently considering myself a car genius, I must admit I would not have been able to figure this out with out Super Christian. I couldn’t even figure out how to pop the hood of the car. BAD. Once we got the hood open, we located the bulb that was out. See that little grey thing below, that’s what I had to open up to replace it.

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Then, I unscrewed the grey thing, popped the old bulb out (see, I knew I could do it), and screwed the new one back in. This is the bulb.

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It was a lot smaller than I imagined. I was thinking that I’d have to take out the full light, blinker and all, but not the case!

Of course, I’m making this sound easier than it was. There was something weird about the way to screw it back in, so that took a while, but eventually I got it. Christian was with me the whole way (thank God!).

Summary details:

Time spent: 20 minutes (plus 15 to drive to VA)
Total cost: $16.88, including the bulb and the gloves. Woo hoo!
Total cost if I did it the lazy man’s way:  $ 39.95 plus tax*
*According to the Exxon near my house that would have changed the bulb in my pre-Discountess days

Total Savings (Estimating 5.95% tax in DC): $25.45

Watch out world, I am now a fiscal and mechanical genius (well still working on the fiscal genius part, but this is progress!).