19 February 2012

Fermented Anger: An Automotive Saga

Sometimes when people learn that I'm a professor or get to see me display my professorial knowledge they'll comment something to the effect, "Wow. You're so smart."

And they manage to say it without seeming sarcastic, which is weird.

Since my job is to try to teach people something they all think they can't learn (another language), I often point out to them that it's not so much that I'm smart as that I am better educated in a specialized field.

Even if I'm smarter than most of them.

I say all of that to lead to this fact: I am a complete idiot when it comes to cars.

This is what the guys at Advance Auto Parts see when I come in.
When I was in 11th grade, my high school had us take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). At the time, I knew even less about tools like wrenches or the fabled socket wrench than I do right now. I would not be surprised if I said they were some kind of screwdrivers.

The military told me to be a social worker.

I with my Masters degree and application to a Ph.D. program have never even changed my own oil. By contrast, two of my brothers-in-law without college educations are total gearheads.

Guess who'll survive the rise of the machines?

Like most people, being faced with problems I should be able to deal with myself but don't know how to deal with myself makes me angry. So when this situation started with the suicide car, my anger began to ferment. What does that look like? Well, first let's walk through my Saturday.

I got up half an hour after dawn yesterday (that means 12:30 p.m.), got dressed, collected the wife, and went off to Advance Auto Parts. I've already recounted the part wherein my wife does not want to rule the world.

When we finally went into Advance, I picked up some coolant because that also needed to be refilled, and asked one of the guys behind the counter if he could advise me on where on a 2006 Nissan Sentra 1.8L would one find the camshaft position sensor.

Seriously, Google it. No one knows.

Actually, the question I may have asked was where to find the distributor cap on my Sentra, because everything I was able to find on the internet indicated that the camshaft position sensor was in the distributor cap (and we would have to replace the whole distributor cap, which costs 5-6 times as much...anger fermenting).

He helpfully walked over to the how-to manuals, opened it up and showed me a picture that showed exactly where the distributor cap would be. The problem was the part on my car where the distributor cap should have been didn't look like that.

I can hear my brothers-in-law laughing from here.
After looking and re-looking, I went in and decided I'd just buy the parts and see what on my car matched up with them. So I asked the guy how much a distributor cap for my car would cost. He looked it up.

He couldn't find one.

As I laughed ruefully knowing what was coming, he checked again and still couldn't fine one. Then he asked me, "Is your car fuel-injected?" Why yes, yes it is. "Then it doesn't need a distributor cap because it uses ignition coils and the camshaft position sensor to start the car.

Yep. My car doesn't need a distributor cap.

The part that we'd been looking at all along, the part that I circled up there...that's the camshaft position sensor that needed to be replaced.

More anger fermenting.

They didn't have the part there yesterday, but they could have it by today. So I ordered that part and the Speed Sensor (which may be a whole other series at this point) so I could work on them today.

Today I picked up my parts from Advance and went out to the car. I thought about waiting till I got home to work on the car, but thankfully thought better of it. You'll see why in the video below.

The guys at Advance were kind enough to lend me a 10 mm wrench. Then they probably laughed about me when I walked out.

There you have it, folks. So far, the car is working fine. I did some groceries and decided to pick up something with which the wife and I could celebrate. So in case you're wondering what the result of fermented anger is, I'm going with IBC Cream Soda.

Sweet, sweet, delicious anger.

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