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My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vodka

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My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vodka

Postby pjbogart » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:57 pm

Yeah, I'm ok. Thanks to everyone who prayed for me. Fuckin' suckers. Back to smokin' and drinkin' like before and I've got a tale like no other, and not a fish tale either! This one is a true story involving one shiftless drunkard and his hero of a father. Pay attention pups, someday you might be able to inspire such tales of your own...

So I'm coming back from Christmas dinner in Milwaukee, a festive but somewhat reserved affair this year given that my mother's husband was absent as he was laid up in a Milwaukee hospital recovering from another cancer surgery. On my way home my check engine light came on. My vehicle is a 2012 with less than 40k miles on it so I wasn't overly alarmed and the light wasn't flashing so it could really mean anything. The next day the ABS and traction control lights came on. After that a power steering, seatbelt, airbag, emergency brake and "there's a fucking gremlin in your trunk" light. Electrical, right? Car ran fine, took it into Kayser Nissan and they said they didn't have an opening for a week and a half! What the fuck? All of the shitty service of a doctor's office without a doctor in sight. I guess I can't blame this one on Obama, so I took it to Autozone where they plugged it into their handy little gameboy and it told them that my gas cap sensor went off. Some sort of vacuum sensor, but nothing serious so I went about my business until I could get it in for service.

I took it to Zimbrick Nissan way the fuck out in Sun Prairie and those dolts spent 3 hours fiddling with my two year old car before they called me back for the bad news. Turns out that one of the terminals on my electrical harness had become corroded, probably because the jackasses at Nissan decided to put an unprotected hub of three fucking wiring harnesses directly next to where your left foot sits while driving! Holy Jesus Christ, I could just push my fingers in between the panel and the floorboard and feel the harness plug-ins! They weren't taped, waterproofed or guarded in any way. Jesus... thank God it's under warranty, right? Nope. 38k on your car, bumper to bumper is only 36k (but the drivetrain is 100k). Alright, so one bad plug-in... we can fix that, right? Sure... for $4072.08 Is that a part number, sir? That can't be the estimate. I guess a harness plug-in necessarily involves two harnesses, both costing about $1000 each and they have to tear the whole car apart to replace the harnesses, as they pretty much snake from the trunk through the engine.

You really aren't going to fix this problem despite its obviously disastrous design? Nope. Out of warranty. Well, fuck-you-very-much, but I'm not paying $4000 to fix one corroded plug-in on a wire harness. Unless I can take that GTR as a loaner, of course.

So I call my father who can pretty much fix anything. He's not a car mechanic but he owned a Hobart office for 40 years and he just has a mind for mechanical things. He actually has a car lift in one of his three garages, the fancy kind with four arms and the hydraulic lift. It was there when he bought the place, but I think it was calling his name, somehow.

My father is 71 and his wealth and temperament prevent him from crawling around on the ground, but he's pretty good at providing directions so we went to work fixing my wiring harnesses... him shouting insults at me and me dipping, splicing and crimping wires. I pulled the paneling off the running board of the car and exposed the harnesses and just about took off all of my fingers trying to get the connectors apart before we started dunking them in acid, soapy water and then rinsing them with a bottle of Skol vodka (because it's cheaper than rubbing alcohol). I blew the shit out of the connector with an air compressor and then we tested each wire by tugging at it gently with a needlenose. If it pulled out, we jumped it, if it didn't, we left it.

In about two hours we had jumped 8 wires and cleaned up the corrosion on the connector. All of the dash indicator lights shut off after we disconnected the battery and the car seems as good as new.

$4000 Nissan? Fuck you. $5 worth of wiring. A few shots of vodka. Kiss my lily white ass. And if you're going to sell cars in Wisconsin, don't put the God-damned harness hub right next to a driver's left foot, because it's bound to get wet. Or at least waterproof the motherfucker, motherfuckers.

Last Nissan I'll ever buy.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby Mad Howler » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:18 pm

Brilliant work, you and your da.
Those are the best stories.

As for those F'n dealerships...

Methinks there is a special corner of hell.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby snoqueen » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:01 am

And a special corner of heaven for cool dads who help you out and then leave you with a good story.

I second it about those dealerships. My car is still under warranty (whatever that's worth) and when I turned it on I kept smelling antifreeze. Took it back to the dealership, asked them to run a diagnostic and maybe see if there was a leak in the cooling system. They hardly talk to you -- it's like they are so afraid they'll be sued they just have these scripts they repeat. They swore they couldn't find anything after leaving me sit in the waiting area for two hours.

Took the car to my own mechanic and he showed me the radiator cap had sort of a little gasket that needed to be seated better. Problem disappeared.

I wouldn't go back to Don Miller with a ten foot pole.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby Bwis53 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:17 pm

Doesn't this make you feel like you are paying someone else for the privilege of doing their job!?
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby green union terrace chair » Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:24 pm

A true American success story.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby pjbogart » Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:13 pm

Not surprisingly, I'm not the only one who's had electrical gremlins in their Nissan so if anyone out there has a Nissan car, even if you aren't having problems with it, you might do well to take a few preventative measures. They could save you big money down the road.

When you open your driver's side door, you'll see two panels that can usually be easily removed, perhaps just pulled up. One is long and flat across the door jam and the other reaches up toward your dash, alongside your brake pedal. Pull those two panels out and have a look at what's behind them.

You'll likely find a plastic carriage where all three of the main wiring harnesses of your car meet. My car had four harness plugins plus the fuel pump plugin set slightly higher (I guess they didn't want it to get wet). There was nothing protecting those connections from water intrusion. Even if you simply wrap a few plastic bags around those plugins, you could potentially save yourself some serious headaches in the future.

And it won't cost you anything. Other than a few plastic bags and maybe some electrical tape.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby snoqueen » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:25 pm

Is there some kind of waterproof sealant you could spray over the whole mess of wires?

If not, somebody should invent this product ASAP.

It's ridiculous how the manufacturers build the entire wiring harness as a unit so that if one little connection corrodes the whole works has to be replaced, but if they insist on thinking that way at least they could waterproof it.

Back when your headlight dimmer was a little button on the floor you operated with your left foot, the wiring to those buttons used to corrode or short out all the time. Your headlights would shut off, usually in the middle of the night on a pitch dark road.

The solution was to cut off a corner of the rubber floor mat and stick it under the wires, keeping them more or less dry and away from anything they could ground out on. Many people did this preemptively.

I could draw a diagram but who cares. We've moved onto far more disastrous wiring problems -- in exactly the same place on the car, and for exactly the same cause, which is the point of this anecdote.

Come on, car manufacturers. Think about it.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby Lily » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:34 pm

Man, the title alone would be a best seller!

Get thee to a publisher. Best read on here I've had in quite a while. Your Dad sounds fantastic.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby supaunknown » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:29 am

Great story, pjb. It made me miss my dad, who couldn't fix jack. Also made me miss the bright switch being elusively on the floor. Issues aside, they felt so right.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby jman111 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:37 pm

Agreed- great story. Also reminded me of my dad, especially one of his car experiences.

He had bought a really clean 1970 Oldsmobile 98 LS in the mid 80s. It was his pride and joy. Big, beautiful car with shining chrome bumpers and huge fender skirts partially concealing the wide white walls in back. The 455 under the hood could put you back in your seat, even well above highway speeds. (Sure, you'd watch the gas gauge drop while you did.) He even found one of those yellow diamond-shaped suction cup signs- the ones that usually indicated "Baby on Board"- that said "Mafia Staff Car" for the back window. Very fitting for this behemoth.

One problem that plagued him for the first few months was an apparently-dysfunctional horn. Pressing the center of the steering wheel was futile, but he had noticed that when he would push back on his seat while driving, the horn would occasionally sound. It didn't always work- there seemed to be neither rhyme nor reason to it. Drove him fucking crazy.

Was it possible that the wiring for the horn was somehow routed under the front seat? Surely the movement of the seat back was shorting some wiring harness and activating the horn. He'd dig around under that front bench looking for the faulty wire, to no avail.

I think he had finally resorted to going (semi-)hornless when one day, while giving it the ol' top to bottom cleaning, he discovered a very small metallic button under the driver's side floor mat- right next to that foot switch for the high beams. He pushed it and, just like that, the horn let out a blast.
Turns out it wasn't the seat that was sounding the horn, but his left foot on just the right spot on the floor that he was using to push.

So, yeah, thanks peej for taking me back.

edit typo
Last edited by jman111 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby jonnygothispen » Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:31 pm

jman111 wrote:...
One problem that plagued him for the first few months was an apparently-disfunctional horn. Pressing the center of the steering wheel was futile, but he had noticed that when he would push back on his seat while driving, the horn would occasionally sound. It didn't always work- there seemed to be neither rhyme nor reason to it. Drove him fucking crazy.

Was it possible that the wiring for the horn was somehow routed under the front seat? Surely the movement of the seat back was shorting some wiring harness and activating the horn. He'd dig around under that front bench looking for the faulty wire, to no avail...
My first car (68 Camaro) had a similar problem. You could hit the brakes and the horn would sound, or hit the blinker and the brake lights would go on. I can't recall exactly what did what, but something like that. Luckily my adoptive dad was an electrical engineer, so he tackled it one Saturday. He found that it was the chalky blue corrosion in the fuse box in between where the 2 1/2's of the fuse box clicked together. Thanks, dad : )
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby snoqueen » Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:53 pm

http://www.gmphotostore.com/1970-Oldsmo ... vP1KKjnYsI

Nice land yacht, fender skirts and all.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby jman111 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:04 pm

snoqueen wrote:Nice land yacht, fender skirts and all.

Yep. Except Dad's was the 4 door "Luxury Sedan" hardtop (no B pillars) model. Almost 19 feet long. No problem hauling a family of 6 in that thing. With the Mafia sign on it, we'd joke that you could stack bodies like cord wood in the trunk.
Like a mini-limo. It even had a little flip down lighted vanity mirror with tissue holder on the back of the front bench.

I was embarassed by it at the time. But I'd love to own one now.

Similar to this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flick ... mobile.jpg
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby snoqueen » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:19 am

Those were the days when a car was a car.

I seem to remember one of Madison's upper tier drug dealers driving the four door model, in white, in about 1971.
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Re: My Dad Fixed My Car with 3Ft of Wire and a Bottle of Vod

Postby jonnygothispen » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:26 pm

Does anyone remember the "Million Mile Cadillac" Taxi? I certainly do! Circa 1981, I was pulling out of a parking spot behind Lisa Link Peace Park after purchasing a few 60's Stones' import records on State. As I pulled away in my 1969 Opel Kadette Rallye, the rear bumper of the Million Mile Cadillac hooked on my front bumper. It ripped my fender off from the middle of the wheel well, and put a 45 degree angle on the previously straight bumper. The caddy was unharmed.

I turned my head and looked back towards State Street before I pulled out, and it was clear, so I can only guess the guy was flying in the Caddy. A witness in a City Truck must of told the cop the same thing as the officer refused to give me a ticket over it.
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