As I was growing up, my dad tried to teach me as much as he could about vehicle maintenance. He’d tell me to come outside and help him with whatever he was fixing on the family car. My dad is one of those dads who are decidedly dad-like: very mechanically inclined. He knows a good deal about working on cars. What he doesn’t know, he can usually figure out. It’s one of the things I admire most bout him. I, however, didn’t get that gene.
When my dad would bring me out to learn about what he was working on, I wanted to be anywhere else. I was not interested. I wasn’t even curious. Now, as I am a father myself and responsible for my own family’s vehicle, I realize the importance of learning all those things that my dad taught me.
I have discovered that, amazingly enough, some of those things stuck. I actually can find my way around an engine compartment and, even more amazingly, figure out what is wrong with a car from time to time. I’ll admit: Google is my favorite assistant. But, hey, the car gets back on the road without a costly trip to the mechanic. But there are times when my stupidity cannot be contained.
Last week, I noticed that my wife’s driver-side headlight was out. “Easy fix,” I thought. Boy, was I wrong. I went to the auto parts store to buy the headlights. When I brought them home, I discovered that I bought the wrong headlights. I drove right back to the store, hung my head in shame and returned the opened package to the same guy I bought the lights from explaining my blunder. He said “no problem” as he taped the package back together. I found the lights I needed and went back home.
When I put these lights in, nothing happened. The driver side headlight still wouldn’t come on. I thought “well, it’s gotta be a bad fuse.” Nope. All fuses were good. I went on to check the relays; they were fine, as well. I was stuck. This is where I refer to my old, faithful friend: Google.
Over the next few days, I found threads online about possible wiring recalls, some people had to replace wiring harnesses because they were over heated, one guy even wrote about tearing apart his steering column to replace the switch. All this was very overwhelming. But I had to start with checking the voltage on the wires going to the lights. This is one department that I’m not very good at, so I call my dad. The call to dad is always the last step before I give up and ask someone else to do it. However, frustration was setting in. My dad and I troubleshot the problem together on the phone. I was probing wires and checking grounds while he was researching.
Just before he got so frustrated himself and drove all the way across town to put his own eyes on the situation, he asked me to make sure both bright lights worked. I turned them on, they were fine. Then I said, “wait a minute…” I flipped the low-beams on and noticed the placement of the bulb. It must have been a really proud moment for my dad when he heard me say “I replaced the wrong damn bulb.”
I went back to the auto parts store and found the bulbs that I originally bought, torn package and all. I took them to the counter and, you guessed it, I bought them from the same guy I had bought them from a week earlier. I installed them in the parking lot in about a minute flat: problem solved.
Stupid really is as stupid does.