Sunday, August 31, 2014

Winning on the Internet

The other day we decided to switch my daughter from her five-point harness child seat to a booster seat configuration. This required removing her seat. That proved hard because the LATCH system anchors were synched in tight. So I had to work hard to get it out. Ultimately I had to move the front passenger side seat all the way forward.

(Incidentally, when I'm God-Emperor, I'm going to ban child safety seats for children over the age of 1. Let the little devils sit on their dad's laps while he drives, smokes and drinks beer at the same time. It's how we were all raised and we all survived to adulthood. It'll toughen 'em up!)

This was all well and good until the next morning when we got in the car, and the passenger side seat was stuck in the forward position.

Oops.

We have a 2003 Toyota Camry XLE, and it turns out that running the electric seats all the way forward often causes them to get stuck.

I wish I had known that.

So, the choices became letting the missus sit in the back (which we did for the day), taking it to a dealer to get it fixed (more on that shortly), or trying to fix it myself.

Turns out I just happened to have a Chilton's Manual for this car from the library. Kim read through that while I drove yesterday. No help in the manual. So then she hit the internet.

First she found that this was a common problem. And she also found that many people were being given quotes from their mechanics that the fix (involving removing the seat and replacing the electric motor) in the $1,000 to $1,300 price range. Yowza! Don't have the money, and wouldn't want to spend it anyway.

Bu she also found solutions. The easiest way involved using a hammer. Unfortunately, that didn't work. I suspect that method would work, though, if you stopped fiddling with the seat once it was stuck, which I didn't do.

But that got to the method that DID work. There was even a helpful YouTube video! This worked. The only thing I had to do was get an S2 drill bit. (I may have had one somewhere, but didn't find it.) So yesterday morning, while out on another errand, I stopped in at Sears and picked up an S2 drill bit. (Along with 100 other bits, as this handy Craftsman 100-Pc. Drilling and Driving Kit was on sale for $14.99.) That, and the video, and about five minutes were enough to fix the seat.

And since I needed more masonry drill bits anyway, the big drilling and driving kit was also a win. (It's good to have all those bits in one place anyhow. I have some stuff here, some there, a lot in my main tool boxes, some security Torx bits in my computer repair kit, etc.)

Thus the internet saved me a lot of money AND inconvenience.

But this gets me to an interesting point. This is the kind of issue one could use to test one's mechanic for both knowledge and honesty. Fixing this would cost you some money at the mechanic. The mechanic WOULD be using his time and equipment. But it should come in around $50-$100 if he knows what he's doing AND is honest. If, on the other hand, he comes back and tells you it will cost $1,000+, then you know something is wrong, and perhaps you should get a new mechanic.

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