As long-time readers will know, my title of Uncle F$#k-Up comes from a storied history of home improvement, maintenance, and kitchen catastrophes which start out with a simple problem and end with a larger problem. Multiple trips to the store, injuries, cursing, and laughably underestimated timelines are the norm for my projects, which is why I’m biting my nails today and wondering what will go wrong next with my wife’s car.
Yesterday morning my wife’s car wouldn’t start. I found that it wouldn’t hold an idle at all, but once warmed up the engine ran fine. So I ruled out a clogged fuel filter or any engine management equipment that would be unaffected by engine temperature. A quick search of the interwebs found many tales from owners of the same model and vintage car who reported that the idle air control valve was faulty. Good thing, since I was going to replace the horizontal boosters and alluvial dampers. I found the part in stock at a local auto parts store just a few miles away. So I loaded up Number Two in his carseat and we rode to the store only stalling twice. Number Two didn’t comment but I think he suspected an idle air control valve as well. When I got home it took less than five minutes to do the job. Here’s what’s amazing about this:
- The unit was in the very top center of the engine compartment, easy to reach without skinning knuckles, lying in the road, or hyperextending any joints
- The screws holding the old unit came loose with a wrench. Nothing stripped, nothing broke off, nothing required desperate hammering.
- The new unit was an exact match for the old AND came with a new gasket, which I didn’t tear or damage during installation.
- I didn’t drop any screws or tools into the engine compartment and have to retrieve them with chopsticks and cursing.
- The engine ran perfectly after the new unit was installed, eliminating any second-guessing about the cause and solution.
So why am I still so nervous?