Okay, settle in for a long, non-game-development-related story.
So I’ve got this car, see. It’s a 1996 Toyota Camry. And the Toyota Camry has a common flaw – the door handles break off. The handles themselves are made of plastic (yes, even the outside handles) and if the car sits out in the sun for a few years the handles get very brittle.
So about four years ago (when I was working for Gizmondo, in fact) I came outside ready to head home after a hard day’s Battlefield and lo and behold, the handle came right off in my hand. I could still open the door because there was a small tab of plastic connected to the latch, but eventually that broke off too. I was reduced to prying up the latch with my key every time I got into the car.
Then, not long after that, I pulled a little too hard on the inside door handle and…it broke off too.
(Yes, I am secretly The Hulk. Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me yadda yadda.)
So now to get out of the car on the driver’s side, I had to roll down the window and pry up the outside door latch from the inside.
And then…the inside latch on the passenger’s side broke off too (it made me angry). So now I couldn’t really have any passengers because I’d have to get out to let them out.
And this was the status quo of my car for a long time. The door latches were annoying, but not so annoying that I was willing to pay $400 a door to get them fixed.
So I just put up with it.
Until my car got broken into.
The thief was attracted by the wire running from my in-dash cassette player to the small storage space between the driver’s and passenger’s seats. He smashed out the small triangular rear window and opened the back passenger door, then opened the front passenger door, got inside and closed the door.
He opened the storage compartment to find a cheap $25 CD Walkman instead of the expensive iPod Touch I’m sure he was expecting. So he ransacked through my glove compartment looking for anything of value and came up empty.
That’s when he realized that he couldn’t get out of the car.
Now, if I could have just seen the look of panic on his face when he realized that he was effectively trapped in the car it would all have been worth it. I know he panicked because he tore the entire passenger’s side door handle out of its housing trying to get out.
(It would also have been worth it because I would have been close enough to administer a sorely-needed asskicking.)
He finally wormed his way into the back seat and exited through the back passenger door. Then, just to add injury to injury, he didn’t fully close the door which caused my interior light to drain my battery.
Needless to say, I was pissed the next morning. The door handles had been destroyed to the point where I couldn’t easily get out of the car either.
So again I was looking at $400 a door. Which I didn’t have.
So I did some research. This was the point at which I discovered that this is a very common problem with Camrys from the 1990’s. One website even had detailed instructions on how to replace the exterior door handle yourself.
So I ordered the parts and decided to try to fix the door myself. Hey, it’s not like I could make it any worse.
So today I went out to give it a shot. After four hours and five trips to the hardware store (“Oh, I’m going to need a torque wrench set, better pick one up. Oh, this set doesn’t have the right size hex, I need a 10 mm. Oh, this 10 mm hex driver I bought isn’t long enough to reach the hex bolts inside the door. Oh, this extender for my torque wrench is perfect, but somehow I managed to buy the 11 mm hex for it instead of the 10. Oh, there we go – finally got it right.”) I managed to replace both the exterior and the interior door handles.
And they work. They aren’t pretty (especially the interior, since I couldn’t pop the frame of it through the door panel) but they work. Pull latch, door opens! Pull latch, door opens! No more reaching through the damn window!
I’m so happy!
Now to do the other door. And get the window fixed. And buy a new CD player. Grumble, grumble…