Having the knowledge and skills to repair a car can be very valuable. Many of the people I know don't have a clue on how to even change their oil let alone make an out of the ordinary repair. I confess that I don't know much about car repairs but that changed fairly quickly this month. In the past the information has not been available to the average person but the internet has enabled us to learn about anything.
So for my first problem: the heater for my wife's SUV (2005 Mercury Mountaineer) was broken all summer so when it started to get colder I had to fix the heater or be in the dog house! So I went searching on the internet and found out how to repair the heater and bought the $50 part. Specifically, the Blend Door Actuator to switch to heat was broken and needed to be replaced. From what I read on the internet it usually costs $600 to $700 to have the actuator replaced. I just could not justify spending that much when the part only costs $50. No wonder some mechanics have a bad reputation! It took me 4 hours to replace the part but it was worth the savings. The hardest part of the repair was maneuvering the actuator into position without the need to cut the dashboard or damage the new actuator.
The next problem for my wife's SUV was the alternator. Not sure why, but the alternator in every car that I have ever owned needed to be replaced. I wish they would do a better job at manufacturing the alternator since it has left me stranded away from home a few times. At first I was a little nervous about replacing the alternator but after finding some good videos on the internet I went ahead and did the repair myself. Again I could not justify paying a mechanic about $500-$600 when the part only costs $150. The repair is very simple however I learned that whenever you replace the alternator you will need to replace or re-charge your car battery. After replacing the alternator the SUV would not start and so I took my battery to the local parts store and had it re-charged. Another thing I learned is that even after replacing the alternator and re-charging the battery the car would only start up in "limp" mode and the check engine light stayed on. I thought I was going to have to take it to a mechanic but after visiting a few forums I learned that the car computer just needs to reset itself. After a few hours the car started up just fine!
For those of you that always take your car to the mechanic (especially after your warranty expires) I recommend that you learn a few things about repairing your car. It will save you money and if you take it to the next level and stock certain car parts you will at least be prepared to make minor repairs to your car such as replacing an alternator.
Below are some photos of my actuator replacement. Sorry but I did not take any photos of the alternator replacement (I wish I did).
Be Prepared - Live the Motto!
|View of front of dash and center console.|
|Photo of center console removed from vehicle.|
|View of inside with center console removed.|
|Lower dashboard removed.|
|New Blend Door Actuator - Cost $50.|
|Location of Actuator. It was a pain to replace!|