Sunday, September 5, 2010


We made it through the storm with little damage done and everyone a-okay. Apparently it was a category 1 hurricane that came through and although I could tell it was a little worse than last year's 'hurricane' it was not a lot worse. Today is a bit windy, and thankfully the +30 temperatures we've had for the last week seem to be a thing of the past. Can't tell you how happy that makes me.

On to other, more interesting news. As you may know, reading this blog, I live alone with no one to open jars for me or do any heavy lifting. When it comes to those things I just do it myself or ... do it myself.  I've encountered several situations which likely would have been easier and faster for a man to do, but I have done them my own way and while it may not be pretty and may not be perfect dammit, I can say I did them and be proud.

So today the truck had a little bit of a think about starting and then wouldn't stay running - it would just cough to a stall when I took my foot off the gas. This is a new problem since I haven't had a lick of trouble with the truck in over two years of owning it(except the passenger side sway bar but that was wear and tear more than anything). I'd already loaded up the dogs so out they had to come, confused of course. I thought I'd flooded it, which I don't think it actually possible with a fuel injected engine but either way I let it sit and think for a half hour and then tried again. No dice.

The dogs, by this time, were a bit put out because they thought they were going for a walk. I promised them that if I couldn't get the truck going I'd walk them to the park on lead. They returned to slumber mode while I set to work on figuring out what was wrong with my truck. The first thing you do, when you're me, is Google "ford explorer won't start". Sound silly? Well, the 258,000 hits tell me I'm not the only one who needs a little guidance. So I read up a bit and discover that a common problem is that the IAC valve in the engine gets dirty and needs to be cleaned. According to all the engine gurus this is 'easy' and there is no reason you can't do it yourself.

So, where, Tamzin asks herself exactly *is* the IAC valve? One then Google Images "ford explorer IAC valve location". There were lots and lots of photos showing me what it looked like when it was in someone's hand but almost no photos of its actual location within the engine. I have discovered through experience that a part on/in an engine does not necessarily look like the same part when it has been extricated from said engine. Also, lots of time the part you are looking at in a photo is shiny and new, not covered in 10 years of road gunk.

So, after much hunting and vague reference to the air intake I think to myself "I wonder if it's under the cover of the air intake". So, with absolutely nothing else to go on I remove the air intake cover and there she be: the magical IAC valve. Not one single source mentioned removing this large piece of plastic - I guess mechanics talking to mechanics automatically assume you know to remove the cover, women who have only ever filled their washer fluid do not. So, part thus exposed I set to work removing it, a surprisingly easy task in the end. I cleaned it out with WD-40 (for better or for worse), set it to dry, went in, had a shower, and then returned to putting everything back together. It all went shockingly smoothly and I had my doubts this was going to fix the problem.

I got into the truck, sent a prayer up to the truck engine doGs and turned the ignition. Immediately the truck roared to life and stayed there. Phew. I gave it a few minutes to think about stalling again but I have been running errands all day, including taking the dogs for their much delayed walk, and so far it seems the problem has been resolved. So now I know that 1) there is an IAC valve 2) it gets dirty 3) it needs to be cleaned and 4) you can do it yourself (even if you're a girl). 

It's pretty obvious that I do not have the option of defaulting to a man for the 'masculine' things in life - some things I do have to wait for my Dad to help me with but 95% of the man jobs in my house are done by me.  As I say, sometimes the process might be a little awkward but usually the end result is worth the effort. The internet can be a dangerous thing but today I am indebted to internet strangers who will never know that their photos, words and advice helped get a redhead back on the road.  It may have taken me a little longer to figure out but I did it and in all honesty I am not ashamed to admit was damned proud of myself.

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