Sunday, April 25, 2010

What A Weekend...

No announcements, teasers, or sketches today... Just a story. The story of my weekend.

I had taken Friday off of work because my good friend Trevor was coming over to visit. (Yes, the same Trevor who owns the RSX I posted two weeks ago, and that's him, not me, in the pictures) We hadn't spent any real time together since last summer, so I was pretty excited. We had a pretty good plan.

He and I were first going to drop my car off at an exhaust shop to get my new header installed. We were then going to hang out before picking my car back up, giving it a wash, and shooting some photos. Sounds like a good way to spend a Friday, right?

Well it didn't exactly work out that way.

We drove over to pick the car up around 5:30 pm. It was supposed to be done at 2:30. That didn't happen. No big deal. We no longer had time for a full wash/wax/detail, but we figured we'd just run it through the car wash and have plenty of time to spare for a good photo shoot. We were on our way to the car wash when my check engine light came on. This is when my weekend officially went to hell.

The CEL had been turning itself on randomly for about a week now. Usually within five minutes of driving. I had been "dealing" with this problem using a proven method: ignoring it. I'd turn the car off, then turn it back on, and the light would stay off for the remainder of my drive. This time, however, my car wouldn't turn back on.

After looking at the wires, we determine that we can't fix it on the side of the road, so we decide to use Trevor's AAA membership to tow the car to a safer location. Only one problem: Trevor was following me in a rental car, so his membership apparently would only apply to his car, not mine. So, obviously, we had to ditch the rental car.

We got in his rental and drove it off the highway and into a residential area, parked it, and walked the mile back to my car, where we subsequently called AAA and told them that the car had died while he was riding with me. After waiting a little under an hour, we got a tow to a closed service station, where my father met us and we checked over the car and determined I had no current coming out of the coil. Uh oh.

It was now after 9 pm, so we called it a night, got a ride back to the rental, and crashed at another friend's house (His name's Jason, expect a feature on his car in the weeks ahead).

Next morning, I bid Trevor goodbye and get a ride back to my car. I checked all the fuses under the dash. Nothing wrong. The internet tells me it could be any number of things. I tried to jump the diagnostic connector to get the CEL to show me the trouble code it was throwing. All that did was make the airbag light flash. I tried to get the local auto parts store to lend me an OBD I diagnostic reader so I could read the code that way. They don't have one. After several hours of this, I call it a day and go back to another friend's house to crash for another night.

Next morning. Day three. (That's today). I get another ride back to the car. I get my Dad to bring his voltmeter out (I should really buy my own). Right before he arrived, I decide to check the fuses under the hood. Something I should have done at the beginning.

You may be able to guess what the problem was...

The ECU fuse had blown. One walk into the neighboring convenience store later, my car's running again.

Except now, none of my instruments are working. No fuel gauge, no speedometer, no tachometer, no odometer, no CEL, nothing.

I drove to the store to buy a pack of 15 amp fuses in case the ECU blows again. Once there, I downloaded a fuse diagram for the fuses under my dashboard, and checked them. Nothing seems to be wrong there.

I drove back to my friend's house, post on the internet asking for help, and then decided to check the fuses under the dash one more time.

Again, you might guess what happened.

Turns out the back-up light fuse was missing. I had somehow misplaced it when checking the fuses earlier. And I in my infinite wisdom completely neglected to notice this fact. Everything works now.

Moral of the story: I spent an entire 3-day weekend trying to fix a problem that was caused by one 50-cent fuse. Always check the basics when working on cars...

Of course now I have to figure out what blew that fuse...

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