I am a Car Goddess me

So there’s my reliable and nearly paid off 2003 Suzuki Aerio. I have loved this car since the day I was conned into buying it. It’s a four-door, five-speed manual, AC, five-disc CD player, lots of room to cart people around in, plenty of trunk space (for the luggage, bodies, etc). It is not perfect vehicle. Early on, the light behind the clock/temperature readout went tits up, so at night I can’t tell how warm it is or how soon until the dawn. No matter. That’s why God made cell phones and automatic windows.

Last week it rolled over to 70,000 miles. This includes trips to PA, VA, DC, NC, and many many jaunts to Nashville and Atlanta to see my family.

odometer

Yeah, ignore the Service Engine Light. It’s been on for almost a year. * shrug*

While on our last trip south just outside of Athens, TN, the HVAC temperature control knob first became stuck and then sorta spun loosely from side to side. We were climbing the mountains, enjoying the brief respite from the one hundred degree weather that had plagued us since Ohio (stupid Ohio), courtesy of a brief but violent downpour, and the windows were rolled down. We watched the temperature readout, perfectly readable during the day, march steadily from 77 to 101 in a matter of three minutes. We even cheered when it hit the century mark, happy that goals were being achieved somewhere, and rolled up the windows. We hit the helpful little button marked AC and adjusted the temp from Kinda Cool to Arctic Blast, and that’s when Doug noticed that the knob was not moving as far left as he would have liked. As hard he he tried, coaxing it gently with multi-syllabic swears, it wouldn’t flip completely over to the blessed cold we desperately sought. As it was, the vents were blowing a tepid warm/coolness found in homes whose HVAC configuration consists of attic fans and the Grace of God. Being a guy who was already frustrated that his wife was driving in her own fashion and ignoring his pleas to slow down and let him out so he could just walk, he cranked the knob hard to left. Frosty air flowed once more and that was good enough for me, but he noticed how loose it now flipped and turning it back to the right did nothing but point to the red. The H portion hit the fuck it button, leaving V and AC in control.

We didn’t care. It was going to be hot the duration of our trip and we’d worry about not having heat come fall.

Hello Fall.

In Autumn, the days here in Michigan start off chilly before warming up, and because the night comes so quickly condensation forms on everything not in direct sunlight. Like my car, which I keep parked up against the building. Our morning exercise routine the last few weeks has been one of us marching out, towel in hand to wipe down the windows so we can see our way to work without plowing into school children. You know what I’d rather do, but Doug insists on clinging to his sense of moral responsibility.

Taking it to a dealer to look at whatever might be wrong was out of the question. Labor plus whatever they would inevitably find wrong with it wasn’t in the budget and we lack friends who know stuff about cars newer than 1975.

I decided to search the Internet, figuring I’d at least be able to arm myself with knowledge so in case I did have to hit a dealer, they wouldn’t be able to screw me as hard.

I found a forum of Suzuki nuts who spend a ridiculous amount of time tricking out their Sidekicks and Aerios and whatever else Suzuki makes into vehicles with flashing lights, illuminated cupholders, and Sybians for those moments of “me time”. I may be kidding about that last one, but I make no promises. While my problem was never mentioned specifically, I was able to figure out what to unscrew, remove and peer at to see the cabling mechanism that made my heater blow hot.

1) First open your glove box and empty the drawer.
2) Then push the left and right hand upper drawer stops inward to pass the sides of dash panel allowing the drawer to rotate down.
3) Newer 05-06 models may have a little shock absorber on the right side that needs to be unclipped from the drawer.
4) If necessary for space, disconnect the drawer hinge from the from the dash to allow the drawer it to drop out of the way.

You can guess which part of #1 I neglected to bother with. There was so much crap in there I ended up tossing much of it into the little drawer beneath the passenger seat which I’ll forget about in a few days when I go into a blind panic looking for the tire gauge. I love how my car is put together with a few screws, some molded plastic, and prayer. God Bless Korea.

Turns out, after losing one of the drawer screws but finding my sunglasses, I needed to remove the bottom panel beneath the steering wheel (ON THE OTHER SIDE) to get to the heater cable, which unscrewed and popped off so freakin easy. I like seeing how things work and spent a few minutes with a flashlight fiddling with the cable and the heater knob, seeing how they were currently moving independently of each other  on their tracks and how they were was supposed to be attached.

Shiny.

Whatever was/is wrong with the track, it can be remedied in the future without me having to remove the panel again. I may even rig up something that looks super cool to me (and will irritate the hell out of Doug) for future issues with the temperature control. Maybe duct tape and a wooden painted stirrer from the local hardware store. In green.

Long story short, I have heat again, which is good as it’s a balmy 51 degrees in my fair city, and I did it all myself. Skirt mechanics are rare, or closeted as the case may be. Sort of tempted now to take a few automotive courses.