Posted by: Kate | June 26, 2009

Bigger Cojones than my Mechanic

OK, no, probably not. He has considerably more tattoos than me and looks like he could probably crush a full soda can from across the room with a stern look.

But still, I felt that I won a small victory for estrogenkind yesterday.

I was en route to Massachusetts for an appointment and lunch with a friend, when the center console of my minivan shut down. Not the dash; I could still drive just fine. But the air conditioner, fans, radio, clock and two outlets formerly known as cigarette lighters, poof. Nothing.

I pulled over to the shoulder, turned off the car, waited a few seconds, and started it again. It started right up, and now the A/C and one of the outlets worked, but the radio, clock and upper outlet were still giving me the silent treatment.

I know approximately as much about cars as does my cat, and so I immediately canceled all further travel plans. I’m fairly certain that the whole concept of a fuse box helps protect the rest of the electrical system when there’s a problem in one area, but I failed Electrical Sciences THREE TIMES in college – the only class I ever failed – so I was not willing to rely on “fairly certain.” I got it to the garage we go to whenever our first-choice place is full, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The kids and I sat there for two hours, while this posse of big, testosterone-laden creatures fiddled with my car. At one point, one was removing the air bag cover, another was lying on the ground next to the car, and a third was far enough inside the engine that he needed a lifeline and a miner’s hat. They grunted. They poked. They prodded.

And then, they gave up. They just couldn’t figure out which fuse it was, or whether it even was a fuse problem, or what to suggest next. They charged me for a half an hour’s worth of labor and sent me on my way, chagrined and embarrassed at having been outwitted by a minivan. The guy in charge actually told me, “Go call a dealer and ask where the fuse is, and then bring it back here and I’ll fix it for free.”

So I got home, tossed the kids in their respective rooms for Quiet Time, and went back out to the driveway to glare at the car for a while.

I decided to open the hood and see if I couldn’t at least get an idea of how it was all laid out before I called a dealer. Mind you, this is about the third time I’ve ever even opened the hood on my own; my vehicular illiteracy reaches truly astounding proportions.

But I got the hood up, and found the fuse box. Popped off the lid, and flipped it over. There, on the underside, was a map, of sorts, with various cryptic abbreviations for each fuse. Some spinning and twisting let me figure out which end was up, and a little more searching showed me a spot on the map labeled “RDO/IP IGN.” Now, I’m no linguist, but it seems like, perhaps, “RDO” might have something to do with a RADIO, and “IGN” bears a strong similarity to “IGNITION,” which is the type of outlet that was not working. Right nearby, there was another spot on the map labeled “SPARE,” and I took a wild guess that it meant “SPARE.”

So, after verifying that the two fuses were the same amperage and that (at least, according to the owner’s manual) I wouldn’t electrocute myself if I just grabbed a hold and pulled, I switched the RDO fuse with the SPARE fuse.


You’re damn right it worked.

Ohhh, was I proud of me. I even called the mechanic back, just to let him know. Sometimes a girl just has to gloat.

So, I’ve met my testosterone quotient for the week, and continue to feel inordinately proud of myself.



  1. You go Girl!!

  2. Good job!!!

  3. Rock on with yo’ bad self!
    I could change the fuses on my first car because they were always going out. I can barely figure out how to add windshield wiper fluid to the current vehicle. Ah, how times have changed.

  4. Go you!

  5. You wouldn’t happen to know how to do that in a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan would you?

  6. You go!

    I’d never have looked under the hood for fuses, though. The last car I changed fuses on I had to push the driver’s seat all the way back and hang down by the accelerator because the fuse box was behind the brake pedal….

  7. Great work! I would never have thought to look at it myself.

  8. Are you sure you pulled into a mechanic’s workshop and not the carpark at Macdonalds?

  9. I think the best response would have to drive back to the mechanic and show them EXACTLY how to do it properly!!! heh heh heh

  10. Fabulous!!!

  11. YEAY!!!!!!!!! *DANCING THE ESTROGEN DANCE* I hope he (the mechanic) felt like the ass he was…

  12. I hereby grant you an honorary degree in the art of “common sense engineering.”
    Use it wisely; If the center console in a nuclear reactor goes dark in your presence, leave it to the professionals.

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