I’ve been in a crummy mood. Missing my husband as his job requires him to travel a lot for work. My frustrations have been made more so by my inability to calmly deal with my four kids normal antics.
Last week we were supposed to visit friends in Chattanooga but only made it half way due to what we think was an overheated transmission in our van. My husband was a few states away so he helped via telephone as much as he could. A college friend has parents that lived close to our breakdown and they came and saved the day by coming and help me diagnosis the issue and then following me almost all the way home. That trip has forced us to realize that our Honda Odyssey may be nearing its time with our family at 213,000 miles. It is driving okay this week but I’m being cautious with my speed.
We have another vehicle, a GMC Envoy. We bought it shortly after me starting at TVA. We bought it with a loan and we paid it off years ago. It has been our backup vehicle for a few years but it too has gotten up there in mileage (190k). In the desire to get a new vehicle, we want to sell this to help fund a new family car but has had some issues with the instrument cluster for a few years. The speedometer hasn’t worked since probably 2011, some of the other gauges started to go in the last year or two but the final thing to make me do something about it was the odometer light going out. Pretty hard to sell a vehicle when no one can see how many miles are on the car.
So I looked online and saw that as auto shop would charge in the $400-500 range to repair the instrument cluster. I found some other places that would repair it for $99 if you ship the instrument cluster to them. I thought that was pretty reasonable, so this weekend I removed the instrument panel. I will say that my husband helped by disconnecting the battery as I was afraid of shocking myself.
I removed the panel easily. However, I did neglect to roll up the windows before disconnecting the battery. Luckily my husband remedied that a short while later. That evening I found a diy video on repairing the instrument panel. A pretty simple repair of the stepper motors and some basic soldering knowledge and we could do it ourselves with a kit from Amazon. My husband seemed confident that either one of us could fix it so I figured for a $30 kit it was worth a try. The odometer fix involved checking the soldering joints and possibly replacing some resistors.
The kit arrived yesterday. Yesterday was a hard day. We had homeschool coop the day before and the kids were still worn out. Liam had a drum lesson and the other kids were just getting on my nerves. I was still missing my husband and only got to talk to him for a couple of minutes. My mental state this morning wasn’t in a good place. We got through school work and Helena was refusing to nap. I decided to tackle the instrument panel knowing it might not go well.
I had to take a break after I opened the panel up as Helena was cranky. I got her to sleep and turned on video games for the kids and got started.
My engineering degree finally became useful today! I figured out how to use the desoldering sucker and got to work removing the solder from the stepper motors. There was some trial and error but I did it. I replaced all the motors and decided to do the LED lights too. I couldn’t find any issues with the odometer connections.
I put the instrument panel in place and needed to reconnect the battery. Honestly, I had the neighbor come help me. Apparently I have a fear of getting shocked. He came over and did reconnected the battery for me and then I felt ridiculous for my fear. Turned the car on, success!! The instrument gauges worked. I fist bumped the neighbor, extremely joyful at this $30 repair.
I had to close the door and saw that the odometer is working again. Took baby girl for a test drive down the street and back and the speedometer works too!
I needed a feeling of success today.
Here are some photos of the process.