Monday, February 1, 2010


Front ViewImage by Tony Kingdad via Flickr

I have a love/hate relationship with my Lexus. I love to hate it. :)

Driver's Door HandleDon't get me wrong, it's generally a very reliable car; it's also relatively easy to take apart (as long as you're not replacing the alternator or power steering pump reservoir O-ring). Powerful, comfortable, deceptively fast... however, the door handle has broken. The driver's side, exterior door handle (see picture, to the right). Oh, it's still usable: you just have to pull the little corner above the split in the photo, next to the lock cylinder.

I spent yesterday afternoon disassembling the driver's door: interior panel, all the interior door handle connections, and then removing the handle itself. Put some JB Weld on it, clamped it together with a vice grip while using a portion of a wooden #2 pencil to hold it in the open position (I'm creative), and let it set overnight in the house where it was nice & warm.

This morning, I put the door handle back on the car, and first attempt at pulling the handle - yes, it broke again. Frustrated, extremely tired (will explain shortly), sore (helped my brother pack up the remainder of his house Saturday), and cold, I reassembled the inner door panel, as obviously the JB Weld is not a solution, not for this particular mode of stress, and I'll have to get a new handle somewhere. Get to the last trim piece, the one behind the inner door handle, and it won't quite pop back into place, so I give it a (pretty forceful) pop with my palm... and it shatters. I recommend NOT smacking cold, brittle plastic after a night where ice forms on your car windows. It cut my palm in multiple places. (Out of respect for my friend Dean, I won't post a picture in this blog entry, but if for some weird reason you really want to see, drop me an e-mail and I'll forward it to you.)

Why so tired? Well, after going to bed late, the smoke alarms all started going off around 2 am. No smoke, no fire, just lots of incessant, extremely loud noise. They've done this before, but usually quit after 30 seconds or so. Not this time. No, we ended up starting to pull the detectors from their mounts, removing batteries. After the first one, the alarms stopped (they're all interconnected, so one going off triggers them all). Back to bed.

Five minutes later, alarms again. I'd looked at the one I pulled, and it says, "If interconnected, the one triggering the alarm will have a flashing red LED." Nope, don't see any. We pull two more (one of which was conveniently mounted on a built-in ceiling shelf in the living room: my oldest son climbed up, shimmied along, and pulled that one), and it stops again. I put them (after removing batteries) in my bedroom, and they continue to beep once a minute ("replace battery" warning) until their internally stored (capacitive) power runs out.

Get to bed, can't get to sleep, hear some sort of siren-like noise outside (not a siren, but two different frequencies of "pulsing" whining sound). Go outside to check on the source, and it's our neighbor's (across the street) AC/heat pump unit. Notice the lights on in the Lexus: apparently the door "closed" switch wasn't being pushed with the interior panel removed, so I (cold, barefoot, in my PJs) pop the hood and disconnect the battery (so hopefully it'll still start in the morning, which thankfully it did).

Back to bed, can't quite get to sleep... 2:45, the smoke alarms go off AGAIN. Notice the one I failed to notice the last two times, right outside my bedroom (that is, there is a smoke detector - literally - on each side of my bedroom door), which has the tell-tale blinking red LED, indicting it as the culprit for all the alarms. Pull it, and its battery, and the alarms stop.

At this point, attempting to get back to sleep is useless, so I have a Facebook conversation with my wife (on her computer on the other side of the room) and cousin, and look through Craigslist ads for vehicles to replace my Lexus.

Anyway, as you can see: very little sleep, and was was gotten was badly interrupted. And the door handle fix didn't work, either. At least the fuel gauge now works (I also pulled the dash yesterday and replaced two capacitors on one of the dash circuit boards so that the fuel gauge will read properly when it's cold).

So... anyone want to buy a 1994 Lexus LS400? It's a reliable car, has had lots of stuff fixed on it, just needs a driver-side outer door handle...
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Marie said...

Gee whiz you know how to fix a lot of stuff on a car...

Marie said...

Oh hey I wonder if coke gives away door handles. How many sodas do you think we need to drink? Will we all be on dialysis by the time we get your Lexxus door handle, ya think?

Tony M said...

Out of necessity (and curiosity).

Unfortunately, I don't think they offer those. But it sure would be nice if they did! Closing in on 1600 points.