If Variety Is The Spice Of Life…

Then I am a spicy meat-a-ball.

After yesterdays clusterfuck with my Caballero, today it was The Wifely Unit’s little beater’s turn to fuck me.

I had the false hope that I would be done with the wrenching for the week.

Especially after the test drive last night went off without a hitch.

I woke up early this morning, chomping at the bit to take the Caballero a little further afield and complete my quest to get those rotten fucking apples out of the back of the thing so that stink could be gotten rid of at the same time.

I wasn’t about to take off in the damn thing until the Wifely Unit was up and awake first though. Just in case.

As soon as she got a cup of coffee in her I lit out.

Made it there, had to sit in line with the thing idling in 85 plus degree weather for twenty minutes and finally got in and dumped that crap out. 400 pounds of rotten apples.  It cost me thirty one dollars and was worth every penny.

No problems with the rig so I’m good to go.

I get out of the place and decide to make a little detour.

The Wifely Unit started complaining a few days ago that the remote trunk lid release wasn’t working on her 2004 Ford Focus.

She was also saying that the remote door locks didn’t seem to be working sometimes either. This was on one of those 100 degree days.

The door locks seemed to work OK for me with the remote but the trunk lid was intermittent.

I hate that word with a passion.

I dinked with it a bit by reaching up underneath the inner cover and wiggling the connector for the little solenoid/actuator gizmo.

It seemed to work using the dash button and the remote so I wrote it off as being a heat condition.

Two days later here she comes again complaining.

So I messed with it again and it sounded like the little solenoid was just barely working. Weak, ya know? When I was up getting the fuel filter and shit for my rig yesterday I asked for price and availability on a new one.

$100 and it’s in Tacoma.

Yeah, OK, thanks but no.

Screw that. So on my way back from the dump I whipped into the same U Pullit wrecking yard that I bought the Caballero at some five years ago, went in, paid my two dollars and promptly found a comparable Ford Focus that conveniently had the trunk open with the electric trunk latch sitting right at eyeball height.

About three minutes later I am heading back inside and paying a whopping $13.57 for it.

One problem I see right off the bat is that the lock cylinder is attached to the damn thing and there wasn’t a key for it.

I get home, try to explain this to the wife, actually SHOW HER what I am talking about and tell her the only thing I can do is to take it and her key up to a locksmith and see if they can rework the cylinder so her key fits.

Take note of what you just read.

So I head up to the local locksmith and show him what I am after.

No can do he says.

But of course.

However, he tells me that he can cut a new key to fit this lock.

Whatever, the wife is going to bitch about having another key but I don’t care, just do it and make an extra key while yer at it.

Less than five minutes and $41.00 later I am on my way back to the house to swap the damn thing out and be done with it.



I went to take the one out of her trunk lid and discovered hers has an Emergency Escape cable and handle attached. The one from the wrecking yard didn’t and that is why it only took two minutes to get it out. The cable isn’t coming out with the actuator in the space allotted so I had to dangle it and hold onto it with one hand and pry the end of the cable loose from the mechanism inside the actuator to get it off. Finally got that off, threw it on the ground and put the new one in.

Success, right?


I got it all back together, shut the trunk and it wouldn’t open with the remote or the dash switch. I opened it up with the key, hit the remote and it worked.

What the hell?!

I repeated this a couple of times, scratching my head. I finally thought maybe there was a bad ground or something.

I opened and closed it a couple more times and then it quit working all together.

That’s when I got the test light out and found a blown 25Amp fuse.

I replaced it, hit the button and it blew the fuse again.

Fuck me, it’s a wiring problem after all this fucking around.

So then the fun starts.

It took me about an hour, with the Sun just beating down on my narrow little ass and me sweating like a whore in Church but I found it.

This rig has been hit in the ass twice. once was just a little bumper shot but the first one was a pretty solid shot and they had to replace the trunk lid.

After unplugging connectors until the fuse quit blowing I was able to trace the problem down to where the harness comes out of the left rear quarter panel. runs under the gas strut on the left side and disappears into the trunk lid its self.

The really weird part is that while I was doing this, I had the actuator unplugged at one point and while the fuse wasn’t blowing anymore, I also wasn’t getting any power to the actuator plug either

I started opening up the harness going up into the trunk lid, probing the wires, looking to see where it was I was losing the power at.

I finally found it.

INSIDE the trunk lid, INSIDE a rubber coated wiring harness.


The only thing I can think of is that it got messed up in the collision or when they yanked the harness back up inside the new trunk lid.

Two years ago.

That White wire had finally come completely apart while I was messing with it and that is the power feed for the trunk release.

That White plastic oval shaped thing and rubber boot is the plug where it goes into the trunk lid.

Stripped and crimped connectors on the damaged wires and fixed it.

This is exactly the kind of crap I did for a living back in the 90’s at the Lincoln/Mercury dealer.

I wouldn’t even want to take a guess at what it would have cost to take the thing in to a dealership to get this figured out and fixed at $125 an hour.

While I had the inner cover off of the trunk lid, I yanked the Third Brake Light assembly out, spent five minutes figuring how to pry it apart to get to the 5 little light bulbs in it and then replaced them all because one of them had been out for a long time.

So remember up top a bit when I was talking about having keys made?

For the life of me I couldn’t understand why the wife was freaking out about that shit. There was a serious lack of communication, misunderstanding and even after extensive interrogation I was still mystified about what the big deal was with the key thing.

After I got it all put back together, I just reused the original actuator that I thought was bad because of the wiring being about ready to come apart due to the damage.

That way she could still use her original key.

So I have her out there and I am showing her all of what it took and I am explaining that she can still use her original key to open the trunk and she asks me where…

Whaddya ya mean, WHERE?!


After owning this car for FOUR YEARS!!




Right under the damn license plate!!

This explains why she was freaking out about not being able to open the trunk remotely so that the guys at the grocery store can put the groceries in the trunk when she places an order online.


I love my wife, very much, but I was a bit Gobsmacked at that one.

And before anyone asks, yes, she is a natural blonde.

So I screwed up myself, by assuming that the actuator was bad without doing any testing other than some half assed wiggle testing and figuring that at 16 years of age, it was very much in the realm of possibility that the thing was just taking a shit and on top of that, spending another forty bucks on having keys made.

My bad, mea culpa.

But it’s fixed, the Wifely Unit is happy again and that, is what matters gentlemen.

Now please, pretty please, can I be done with having to fix vehicles for a few days?

Because I got an email notice yesterday that the parts I have been waiting on for that damn Sprite are on their way and now I have that happy horseshit to look forward to.

With the full brunt of Summer beating down on my ass.




20 thoughts on “If Variety Is The Spice Of Life…

  1. To keep the wife unit happy it was money well spent and you have a back up now… and it was still cheaper then getting a new one and waiting for fuck how long to get there with you luck on car parts by mail…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So, all of this due to the repair shop that ‘fixed’ the damage doing more damage, right?

    Seen it all too often. Me having to do things after the repair shop touches my cars. Little things like, oh, tightening caps, putting a spark plug in correctly (fortunately I took photos on an early digital camera, so the farking repair shop had to clean my damn engine, replace all plug wires and plugs and grease my palm with some dough because I caught those chingadas red frickin handed (and I never ever took a car to a place that specifically handles hispanic street racers, no matter where AAA wants to take my car.)


    • Hard to say but you can maybe get an idea from this, back in 1999 when I quit working on cars for a living, I was making $19.00 an hour and it was all piece work. No work, no pay. At the time, the dealership was charging $95.00 an hour for labor.
      So I would figure if the dealership is charging $125 an hour, the mechanic is probably making at least $25.00 an hour and it’s still piece work. It’s called Flat Rate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks man. Damn, I realise that to operate the business means that overheads must be covered, but they are mongrel rip-off artists. That figure won’t guarantee that the job won’t be handed to an inexperienced apprentice, earning even less.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Back in the day, I had a ’69 Alfa GTV which started blowing taillight fuses. I finally found that under the rubber mat on the trunk floor there was an uninsulated spade connector which finally wore through the paint and was grounding to the floor pan. Italians.


  4. I have found myself in a similar place with family and friends when it comes to the situation that you dealt with with your spouse and using a key to open the tailgate.

    My automatic reply to any questions about ‘how do I do ……? in my car, I immediately reply, RTFM…….Read the FUCKING


  5. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and this story is a perfect opportunity.

    Thank you. And thanks to all the men who are like you. When the world falls apart, you are the folks who put it back together with hammers and flame, mysterious tool boxes and choice words.

    In our current news cycle, we see endless pictures of people destroying buildings and structures they could never recreate, belittling the people who are capable of designing and creating those buildings. I visit this blog, and others like it, and read about men who are busy going about their lives, making and creating and doing… you’re an antidote to stupid. So… thank you. Long may you go on, restoring old tools, resuscitating the Caballero, cussing out the Sprite, building and fixing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “choice words” I like that! We do use choice words here… and we build. I just got down at a yard sale a buddy put on, he rescue old furniture out of the public dumpsters here and what people give him and gives or sells very cheap to people who need it and can’t afford good furniture. I sold about $400 dollars of old drill motors, circular saws and a few cut off saws that people had discarded because they didn’t work. I replace the brushes, clean or replace the switchs, do a tune up on the tool and you have a tool that will last you for years if you take care of it. and I make some money doing but it is in a price range some people can afford to buy. Thank you for those kind words Thinkingoutloud from us at Phil’s old grumpy, curmudgeon tool nerds club.


      • Cederq, I’ve been reading your comments here and at Wirecutter’s place since before your move. Just like Phil, I know you’re capable of ripe and fragrant profanity when the spirit moves you. Or when the hammer slips, whichever is the current state of affairs.

        I wanted to write about two weeks ago, when our beloved daughter decided to purchase a used RV. She went (without us knowing) to the family gearhead, who very kindly inspected her choice and told her not only no, but hell no. He then helped her select a better vehicle, crawled all through it, pointed out the repairs needed (cosmetic), and promised to walk her through those repairs. She wants to learn by doing. She financed it and purchased it all on her own. It ended up being a good purchase because of our family gearhead, a guy just like Phil, and you, and many of the readers here, who took his time and expertise and patiently taught her a thing or two. She’ll learn on lot on her project car, just as you all have. But she’ll be safe, and I won’t worry too much about random breakdowns, because the vehicle is essentially sound.

        So, on behalf of all the ungrateful SOBs who take all of you for granted – thanks. You’re a cranky bunch of underlubricated humanity, and I’m grateful for you.


        • ” You’re a cranky bunch of underlubricated humanity” ahh man, something I can call Phil, an unlubricated humanity, goes to with Death, Aussie orc and egorr, the lone camp host… and Unfuck, who can forget our Austrian Bard. I am glad your gearhead relative did that for your daughter bought a used RV, I have had some type of RV since I was 22 years old and I have seen some doozies out there. People buying used RVs with unseen or undisclosed problems and there are a lot of them. People don’t realize the maintenance on a portable home that goes 70 mph on the road and the shameful workmanship you buy new from the factory. Right now I own a 19′ Jayco Light and Jayco has a very good reputation for now, but those winds may change. I can give advice if you or your daughter seek it. I am glad you enjoy Phil’s blog and Wirecutters. I also have other blogs I comment on. Even as I wallow in the unwashed and underlubricated humanity I am a retired nurse with two Masters and a whole lot of mechanical schooling and the Supreme School of Hard Knocks and Knucklebusting. I was a farm kid and learned to fix tractors and tools at an early age.


  6. After having owned 6 Volvos, I absolutely HATE effing electrical gremlins. Every blessed Volvo I have ever owned, pre Ford and post Ford, has had wiring issues and they are a bitch to trace. What makes it worse is the Swedes went to “green” soy based plastics late 50’s onwards, which rodents just seem to LOVE and with the heat in the engine compartment (right at the firewall main bundle) they tend to turn to dust and crumble after 10 years or so. Never again Volvo. .

    Glad you found the exact spot. Wife happy is the ultimate survival trait.


  7. I actually dated a female once who, after I heard a scraping sound when the brakes were applied in her car and I asked “don’t you hear that noise?” – she replied “it goes away if I turn the radio on”.


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