I reminded myself today why I quit being an automotive mechanic


Conservitum Americum
Special Hen
Jan 19, 2019
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I have a 2004 Chevy Silverado that has a few problems. They are minor problems consisting of a small blend door vacuum leak that sounds like I have a pet ping pong ball rattling inside my dash and a passenger side window that won't roll down because the window regulator quit working.

Hey, no problem, I quit my job and retired right before the quarantine and I already have the replacement regulator from Riverside Salvage, great people down there, and it is nice outside.

I scoured Youtube for 2004 Silverado remove replace window regulator. I found everything but. I found 1999 - 06 Suburban, Chevy pickup 2006 2009, etc. Hell, I’m retired. I have the time. I watched them all. Some were comical some were condensed, and some were boring and wordy. All were different and none of them was to prepare me for my experience. I shoulda made a video but that just ain't my thing.

As I remember mechanic book time is about 1.5 hours so I gathered my tools and my roll around chair because I can't kneel down and took a pain pill with a cup of coffee and my iPhone for my tunes. Since it was a Sunday no talk shows were on so I settled for Beatles Radio on iHeart Radio.

First thing I saw was the door card was attached with one plastic push in serrated rivet, one Torx screw, and three 7mm screws, two of which were hidden, very well. I got these off and the door card then lifts off easily after a few good smacks with the heel of your hand and removing another hidden screw and it is an 8mm.

The next task was before me, disconnecting the electrical. All of the electrical connections were accessible, if you call holding the door card with the right hand and disconnecting the wiring with your left hand upside down and blind accessible. All of the connections had a different mechanical means of connecting and a special kind of hell is waiting for every inventor of all of these different easily snap together connections. The courtesy lamp that comes on when the door opens is first. You have to disconnect it first in order to get to the others by rotating the door card 90 degrees and at the same time fighting the clear filthy plastic film that is falling down and blocking what view you have gained by contorting your head and neck situating the eyes just right with your trifocal glasses. This film that is inside every door is put there just to piss off the person working on the door and the inevitable black crap that is used to glue the piss off film to the door. The lamp had just enough wiring to let you get your hand down to it by following the wiring blindly finally coming in contact with the minutes old glowing bulb. Figuring out door dirt doesn't taste very good and removing your finger from your mouth to soothe the previous burning sensation I found I had accidentally yanked it out when I reacted to the heat. Small victories.

One electrical connector had the push in and pull barb which is usually easy but this sucker had two wings on the side you had to gently bend outward to ease out two more smaller barbs so now I have three barbs to unhook at the same time for two wires. I graduated from that one without breaking the connector only to come up against the most evil one, the dreaded metal rotating clip push in connector. It was simple, just hook your fingernail in the metal thingy and pull to the side. When you do this it also leverages out the connector so it is the simplest of all. Poof! The rest are fairly easy after gaining a little more room each time a connection is removed. Don’t forget the speaker wire.

Ok, now it is time to get to the task at hand, the window regulator. With the Beatles banging out Glass Onion and Revolution, I first checked the purchased pre-owned window regulator with the existing one. This was done because I have learned from past forays backward into the mechanic’s world. Never trust the parts guy. From the limited view I have of the existing and replacement, they look identical and even have the same bolt pattern, all is well. Well until I remember another foray. I cuss myself for not remembering what I told myself to remember to do while I had the door card off and the electrical still connected, test the new regulator. I begrudgingly reconnect all the maddening electrical connections and test the window regulator. It works.

After another fight with the piss off film and black sticky stringy crap, I again get the electrical connectors off and the door card goes into the bed of the truck so I don’t accidently scratch it, another past foray.

I go into the garage trying to find the two little orange plastic suction cups to hold the glass so it doesn’t guillotine me when I remove the regulator, I of course cannot find them. I think to myself where have I seen those in the past four years of trapesing through the workings of my garage, woodworking shop, electronics shop? I finally run across two foam and plastic furniture moving feet and decide to cram these between the door and the window wedging them tight so it won’t move. It worked. Another small victory.

I get my 10mm socket, yes I have several spares, and my Milwaukee impact and my ¼ inch drive quick change extension and proceed to loosen not remove all of the bolts holding the regulator. I examine the two bolts holding the window to the regulator and loosen them using my specially bent hook/awl to gently release the flat rubber U shaped bushings from their grasp of the window. One at a time, I then remove the regulator bolts and lift up the regulator releasing the hooks still holding it on the door. Again, gently releasing the pressure of the window mounts I remove the regulator and set it aside. Grabbing the new regulator and wrestling it into place seems like child’s play after the immediate removal of the old one. If only this window rubber bushing will just go an inch higher. Just an inch…higher, damn that piece of metal is sharp! Just an inch high…

Removing the regulator was a simple task as I have now done it three times. I am now checking the new regulator with the old regulator comparing the various protrusions, bolt hole, and metal to plastic relationships finally noticing the new regulator’s little black plastic runner piece that runs on the steel track is caught on the track. Due to the tension of the steel cable I cannot move it into place even by gentle persuasion with a set of pliers. Now I’m looking at the track and the cable going into the motor and gearbox and I decide to just remove it from the track to gain the minute slack I need to situate the runner back onto the track. I remove the two screws and the assembly comes off easily and so does every wrap of cable when the cover comes apart. One step forward, fourteen back. Oh well, I’m retired, and thirsty.

After a good long drink of ice cold tea I’m refreshed and considering going back to Youtube to see if any other young budding engineer types have tackled this problem, I decide to fix it myself mostly because I couldn’t find anything on my truck to begin with and hell, I’m retired.

Since it has now been a four hour ordeal mostly with me bending over all morning I break a pain pill in half and choke a piece down with another sip of tea.

The Beatles are now playing, Let it Be. That should have been playing a few minutes ago.

Back to the truck and the tangled twisted greasy mess. The innerds of the spool mechanism is a wonder of engineering. I have a plastic spool that has attachments for steel cable ends on both the inner and outer part of the spool with the cable entering and exiting from both directions in the middle of the spool like a ship’s capstan. The nylon spacer and spring for shock absorption are intermingled with the now multiwrapped cable. Deciding the motor shuts itself off upon resistance and not seeing any timing stops I disconnect the one end of cable end that is the easiest to get to and the easiest one to safely untangle without getting whipped to death and unwrap the wrap the cable back onto the spool. Thinking to myself I shouldn’t have given my stock of surgical gloves from the garage to the wife, I continue to enjoy wrapping, dropping, cussing, wrapping, dropping, cussing the greased cable back on the spool. Still holding the pig slippery cable, finding the popped off cover still on the ground, fishing it to me with my foot and grabbing it with my greased hand while straightening back up I hit the mirror with my head causing me to, yeah you guessed it.

Having the cover in my lap ready to slap on after I get the freshly cleaned and greased cable back on the spool, it fits with a little more cussing. I even thought to have the two correct screws handy. Not forgetting the purpose of removing the motor housing I easily slip the runner back onto the track and secure the motor housing back onto the runner. I insert the regulator back into the metal door remembering the sharp places and gently secure the window mount bolts and rubber bushings to the tracks. I insert the window and snug the window. Surprisingly, all of the bolt holes line up with minimal pushing and nudging and cussing.

Having the bright idea to remove just the switches from the door card to operate the window for a functionality check before I put the card back on the door and find the regulator won’t work for some reason, still another foray, thirty minutes later, four plastic shims and still more cussing the switches are out and no plastic is broken. This is a major victory for me. I get it all hooked up and check the function of the window. Nothing. I check the function of the door locks “schlunk” “schlunk”, they are OK why isn’t the window…turn the key on stupid! I felt like I did turn the key… to Stupid Mode.

Hey! It still works! Another major victory! Alright now, what is left? I make sure all the bolts are tight and the window mount bolts are tight and again fight with the piss off film. Since the switches push into the door card from the back side I leave them attached to the wiring and push them back into place hearing the clicks as it seats back into the mounting. Remembering the speaker and the courtesy light, again, small victories, I check for window functionality this time remembering to turn the key from Stupid Mode to ON. The door card slips on easily with my wife’s help and the window still works. I slap on the trim pieces, restore all of my tools to their proper places in the garage and go into the house to wash my hands. After the hand washing I attempt to lock the truck listening for the beep of the alarm setting. H’mmm, no beep. That usually means a door is ajar. How the hell did I mess that up? I wasn’t anywhere near the wiring for that. I went back outside and checked the door, shut and locked. Thinking, there are two doors, I checked the other one and it was ajar. I unlocked the door, opened it, and shut it and “beep”. Small victories.
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Special Hen
Jan 1, 2013
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I think it is a British thing.
That could be where it started, but I'm pretty sure I heard it on other shows. Then again, I quit cable several years ago, so I only got to watch those shows while I was staying in hotels (which I did for close to half of 2018--hooray for working on the road).

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