Sunday, March 31, 2013

Replacing Wheel Struts is the Worst Thing Ever.

Or alternatively, replacing the struts in the cold is like that one scene in Star Wars where Luke learns that he has to go to the Dagobah system only I learned that the air compressor scares me because it's kind of a dick. So today we decided that we were going to replace the rear wheel struts on the car. This job was something that we had wanted to began yesterday, but then the auto shop gave us the wrong part and then we had to drive to town to get another one because ha ha ha life. Did I mention the high today was 37?

The high today was 37. Degrees. That was it.

Anyway, so we get the strut out of the box, optimistically, and then we jack up the car and get the tire off and then everything went to hell in a poop basket. Now what you have to understand, is the strut is that part with the giant-ass-holy-motherfuck-that's-huge spring on it. It is connected to the rotor which is the bit that makes the car stop. So the strut connects to the break. That's all you need to know.

Except there was one other piece. One other traitorous low down bitch faced part. And that part is the part I can never remember the name of. Scott told me it was the sway bar control link. I spent the day referring to it as the Patrick Swayze bar.

Because I am adult and no one can tell me to stop acting like a 10 year old.

So the first problem is some other fucking idiot mechanic had placed the bolts into the strut in such a way that we could not remove the strut from the car without taking out the break caliper- also known as that part I never want to touch again after that time we replaced the break pads. After we did that, we discover that the bolt on the Patrick Swayze bar was stuck. Like super really a lot stuck. Like it took 45 minutes, a broken allen key, and two broken sockets before we gave up and sawzalled the piece off.

Which pretty much meant that we were ordering more parts.

Because who doesn't love pouring additional money and time into a project you didn't feel like doing in the first place? Anyway, about that point we discovered that getting the new strut in was god awful.

One person had to lift the strut up, deep into the wheel well, keep everything perfectly lined up, fight the damn break system out of the way, while the second person had to lean way into the trunk and verbally guide the piece into the bolt hole and then bolt it in place. This took two attempts. Oh and clamps that we placed on the spring to allow us to work with it kept hitting the wheel well. Ha ha. Annddd also at this point it started snowing.

Because fuck spring that's why.

Anywho, we got the damn thing in place, lined up and bolted in place up top. Then all we had to do was bolt it at the bottom. Seeing that Scott, who had been doing the bulk of the lifting, was tired enough to turn into the undead at any moment, I sent him inside, saying that I would put the last two bolts in.

Childbirth probably would have been easier.

Also, I pulled an ass muscle.


So the problem now was that the break assembly was just sort of hanging there, so to get the bottom bolt in, I had to lift it. This was not so bad, and I was able to slide the bolt in rather painlessly. The only problem now was that I had turned the bottom into a fulcrum point, meaning that the top was still leaning out and down. Which would mean I was going to have to use my 145 pound ass to shove the break rotor up with one hand, while putting the bolt in with the other.

It took everything I had and then some. At one point, I had my right shoulder resting on my right hand, with only the palm on the rotor because I didn't want to put pressure on that rotor plate guard thingy, with my legs doing that thing where you shove them into the ground and push hard so it looks like you are trying to run in place while you are half laying down.

Which is how I pulled that ass muscle.

I remember sitting there, in my half mud, half ice driveway, breathing hard, thinking that I had given this fucking thing everything I had, and I still couldn't do it. Snow flakes, the light fluffy, lazy kind, the kind that zig zag to the ground, were falling around me, catching on my hat and landing soundlessly on my gloves. The sun was slipping behind our ridge, painting the sky with crazy blues and purples and leaving the heavens lit while the earth slipped into cold shadow. My hands were stinging and my feet, even through three socks and insulated boots, were throbbing to the beat of my heart. The wind whipped past making my cheeks sting, bringing me back from that tired fugue to the world where I was facing off against my car, kneeling on a wet soggy board.

And I summoned my anger.

I thought about everything that had ever pissed me off. Every single person that gave fuel to that terrible voice in my head that tells me that I am not good enough. That tells me I am weak and pathetic and stupid and makes fun of me for being afraid of the air compressor.

And I told that voice to go fuck itself. To go fuck itself so hard. And then I shoved that goddamned motherfucking, son of bitch break rotor up and crammed the bolt in place.

Because I am awesome. Then I walked the victory limp pulled ass muscle walk back to the house to tell Scott that I was the queen of the strut assembly.

At least until we have to do the other side.



  1. Oh no! Not the ass muscle.

    Honestly - I'll do brakes and oil. I've paid to have 3 out of 4 struts replaced on my car - just looking at that mother effing huge spring told me it would be a giant ass pain to replace.

    Lately I've been hearing that ominous creaking that lets me know one or more needs replacing again - time to consider another vehicle.

  2. On the bright side, you got a drink named in your honor yesterday. A few of those should take your mind off of your busted ass? :)

  3. Best injury ever. Hope the ass muscle recovers soon!

  4. I almost want to say it's too bad you didn't get a scar along with your ass muscle injury because then you whip off your pants and point to your scar like Quint in Jaws and be all, "I got this when."

    It would be even cooler if you did it while chugging the drink that got named after you.

    Like a bad ass.

    Because seriously, after all I've read here, you are a Bad Ass! Just like Quint. Except I don't think you have to worry about sharks.

  5. I hope your ass muscle gets better soon.

  6. I can think of some really fun ways to pull an a** muscle. Fixing struts on a car (or anything on a car) is not among them. I hope it heals soon, so that you can pull it trying to do something entirely different IN the car. ;-)

  7. Childbirth does sound easier. More painful, perhaps, but definitely easier. I mean, all you really have to do is just lie there and curse like a sailor while a tiny person rips you open from bow to stern. But then, I've never tried to fix anything on the car that didn't end with zip-ties, silly putty and gorilla my mama taught me.

    Also, Patrick Swayze bar = Roadhouse.