Apparently I'm a mechanic!

My car decided to have some “fun” this evening. I guess it felt I was taking its reliable nature for granted, or maybe it found out that a few weeks ago I was thinking of replacing it…

This all started around 8:30pm when I was loading Avery into the car after spending the evening with Daddy on post. Daddy had just finished buckling her in, but when he tried to close the door it wouldn’t budge. Now, this particular door has always been a little stubborn when it comes to opening and closing, so, slightly annoyed, I got out of the car to “show him how it’s done.” I tried to slam it, and it wouldn’t budge. Eventually I was throwing practically my whole weight against the door, and it still just wasn’t moving. (Don’t worry, we took our daughter out of her car seat and Daddy was holding her while Mommy wrestled with Jeepie)

Finally I managed to get it closed, and thinking I had figured out the secret, I opened the door to demonstrate how I had “fixed” it and to let Daddy put sweet Avery back in her car seat. Only when I went to close the door, it got stuck…again. After a few more minutes of wrestling and slamming and rocking of my vehicle, I managed to get the door closed for a 2nd time. Only this time it didn’t close like normal – the locking mechanism wasn’t meeting up like it should to properly close the door. I had to open the door again (only a little bit this time, I learned my lesson!), and lift it slightly as I closed it to get the locking mechanism to meet as it should. With the door FINALLY closed, we went around the car to move the car seat behind the driver’s seat and buckle Avery in. Daddy gave us hugs and kisses and went back to the barracks for the night. I told him I would run to Wal-Mart in the morning and get some WD40 to see if lubricating the hinge would help it any.

Shortly after Daddy left, however, I noticed that my interior dome lights were not shutting off. Apparently whatever shenanigans the car door had gotten into that 2nd time I tried to close it, was making the car think that it wasn’t closed all the way. So I decided that I would just run to CVS and get the WD40 tonight, and hopefully after lubricating the hinges on the door, it would glide back into the “locked’ position like it should and everything would be just peachy and sunshine and roses.

Well, we get to CVS, run inside to grab the WD40 (and a small can of chips, because it’s after 9pm now and my daughter is losing what little patience she has, and I grab some pretzel M&Ms because I’m fixing to lose my patience too), and hurry back out to the car, hoping and praying that my battery hasn’t decided to die on me in the 5 minutes I was inside. After buckling Avery in, I get out the WD40 and cautiously open the door. I locate the part of the hinge that I believe was the source of the trouble and liberally spray it down.

And then I spray it some more.

And just to be on the safe side, I spray it again.

Now that it’s thoroughly soaked in WD40, I attempt to close the door. I hold my breath…and it slides effortlessly closed, lining up perfectly with the lock on the door.

Only the lights on the inside of my car…they don’t go out.

After banging my head on my car window for a few minutes, I climb back into the driver’s seat, lock the doors, and turn my car on to keep the battery from dying. I open up my candy (so very thankful that I bought myself some chocolate at this point!), take a deep breath, and think. I remembered how my Mom’s van use to have a similar problem, and we always use to remove the fuse from her car. I glance under my driver’s side dash and don’t see a fuse box, so I decided to call my Dad and see if he can Google it for me and tell me where to find it.

As I’m sitting on the phone with him, 2 things cross my mind – 1) I have an iPhone, with internet, and was more than capable of doing the Googling on my own, and 2) I can see the fuse box on the wall under the passenger’s side. Having successfully located said fuse box, I let my dad know and drive home, hopeful that this “repair” will only take a minute once I get home and I’ll be able to sit on the couch and relax and watch Hoarders for a few hours before I have to go to bed.

Jeepie, however, had other ideas.

After searching online, I found several Jeep forums and Wiki pages with uses claiming to have “helpful” info. Only to find out their info didn’t apply to my model. One person suggested pressing a “button” on the latch of the tailgate – this would trick the vehicle into shutting off the dome lights. When I attempted to do this, I ended up getting the lock on my car stuck in the “locked” position. Also, while removing fuses on the inside panel trying to find “the one” I managed to drop one inside the fuse box. Fortunately, there were a couple spare fuses clipped onto the cover for the fuse box. Unfortunately, I had dropped a 10 (amp? watt?) fuse, and only had replacements for a 15 and 20. I picked the 15, figuring it was better than 20…

Eventually I learned that there was ANOTHER fuse box under the hood of my car. I tried pulling out a few of those fuses, only they were proving difficult to remove with the little plastic doo-dad that came with the fuse box on the interior of the car.

So my brilliant idea? Go inside and get a pair of needle nose pliers.

After trying multiple fuses that were suggested by various online forums, I called my Dad again, desperate for help. it was at this point that he informed me I shouldn’t be using METAL pliers while working on a FUSE BOX. Well, duh, I thought, now that he put it like that…

Sadly, he wasn’t able to give me anymore advice other than to systematically remove them one by one until I found the one that worked for the lights. I decided to do one last Google search in the hopes of finding a chart or diagram that could help so that I would have to pull out 30-40 odd fuses and risk dropping more, possibly important, ones.

I was told to remove fuse 16, on the bottom right of the mini fuses under the hood…I crossed my fingers, said a small prayer, and plucked it out…FINALLY, I was successful!!

Now with the light situation finally fixed, I had to turn my attention back to the rear door of my car that no longer wanted to close. At this point I was quite exhausted, so I decided “Hey, I’ll just lock the doors and go to bed and deal with this in the morning.” (In the back of my mind I was secretly hoping someone would steal my Jeep while I slept and I would be able to buy a new one….) Only, when I went to lock the doors of my car, it didn’t work.

I tried to unlock the doors and that went well. So I tried to lock them again, still didn’t work. Not a click or whoosh or any other electrical or mechanical sounds. Just silence. I paused for a second to think about what could be causing this, and then remembered about the busted back door – “Maybe,” I thought, “the locks weren’t working because the rear door wasn’t able to lock itself.” So I went around the back to take a look at it again.

The lock sure looked different then the last time I had looked at it. Earlier I had slammed it in frustration, so I thought for sure that I had screwed it up. I tried to close the door, and surprisingly, it worked. The door latched effortlessly. I opened and closed it a few more times, just to make sure, and I even took out my keys to test that I could manually lock and unlock the door – everything worked perfect.

“Hooray!” I thought, “I fixed my car!”

But alas, my celebration was premature because doors STILL wouldn’t lock when I flipped the switch. At this point I was exhausted and just ready to get inside, drink some water, and cool off – so I manually locked my doors and went inside.

And now, here I sit, typing up a long-winded blog post, sipping ice water, and scratching my crazy cat. My fingers are filthy and my car is only half way “fixed.” Avery was a little trooper however, and patiently waited for me on the couch with her chips. Every few minutes or so, I’d run back inside to check on her and make sure she wasn’t into trouble, then Id lock the door and run back out to my car to turn it on for a few minutes to keep it from dying. Around 10pm I finally laid her down to bed, right before I made the 2nd phone call to my Dad, and she was asleep within minutes and I was able to quickly finish up with my car – or at least get it good enough that I could leave it alone until morning!

Tomorrow I’ll start posting some of the recipes we did over the weekend. This was a very successful round of cooking =)
Sweet dreams to all!
-Sam

PS – Here is the link to the wonderful website that contains a very easy to understand and view chart on identifying the fuses both under the hood of a 1997 Jeep and on the interior panel.