Why I hate auto mechanickin’

Recently the air conditioner in the Perfect Tow Vehicle died. 

I’m told the problem may be as simple as a blown fuse. 

I buy an assortment of automotive fuses.  They come in a little metal box the size of a matchbook.   It has a sliding door on it.  Cute.  It even has a plastic puller so I can get out the old fuses.  I’m all set!

I study the diagram of rows and rows of fuses.

1-P1060226By craning my neck into a corkscrew I can examine the corresponding layout of fuses conveniently located in the dark, nether region under the driver’s seat. 

I find an A/C fuse to pull out. 

I look in the metal box for a fuse with the same amperage.  Okay.  So far so good. 

I grasp the plastic puller to yank out the old fuse. 

It doesn’t want to come out.  I make several attempts until my neck hurts.  As if aware my individual pain threshold has been crossed, the SOB finally comes out.

"RVSue is in there somewhere . . . "

“RVSue is in there somewhere . . . “

I drop the new fuse as I try to put it in the empty slot. It’s in a groove of the fuse box specifically designed for dropped fuses to become lost in.  I know. That sentence ends with a preposition. 

S0 sue me.



I grab a pencil and, after several tries, flip up the fuse where I can grab it.  I try again to put it in the slot and — surprise, surprise — it won’t go in. 

I compare the old fuse with the new fuse. 

Well, my oh my, lookee here.  The prongs are different widths.  Of course!  I bought the wrong kind! 

Now I have to go get another little metal box with assorted fuses of the right kind.  You know?  This is why I hate attempting to do auto mechanics.  There’s always some pesky detail to trip you up.

The fuse I took out looks fine so I put it back in.

I should pull out the other A/C fuse to see if it’s bad, but I’m not going to do that because I’m too annoyed and it’s getting hot and to heck with this.  I’m going for a swim.

The next day the crew and I go EIGHTEEN MILES to Bozeman.

"Why is RVSue so hot to get a fuse?"

“Why is RVSue so hot to get a fuse?  She should buy dog treats instead.”

I buy another little box of assorted fuses of the right kind.

See, fuses come in two kinds:  ATC and ATM.  Don’t ask me what the letters stand for.  It’s a special code that’s wired into the brains of auto mechanics as they form in the womb. That’s how they are born knowing what fuses to buy so they can charge the rest of us to replace them because we don’t know jack. 

I’ll be damned if I’m going to ask The Helpful Hardware Man to decipher the code for me.

Oh well . . .  (This is me still ruminating in the aisle at Ace Hardware) it’s good to have a little box of assorted fuses of the right kind anyway.  

Hmm, there’s no puller in the box to match these fuses.  Determined to have what I need once I drive ANOTHER EIGHTEEN MILES back to the campground, I plunk down almost twelve bucks for needle-nosed pliers. 

See why I don’t like auto mechanickin’?

 “Oh, do it yourself.  Why pay someone else?  It’s easy and you’ll save money.” 

Yeah, right.  I have an assortment of fuses which I bought on the other side of a mountain range and which I’ll never use ($3.15) plus another assortment of fuses which I may never need ($4.99) and a pair of brand-spanking-new, whoop-dee-do, needle-nosed pliers, a tool I’ve never owned in 65 years of living and have managed to function very well without ($11.49).

Not to mention the time stumbling around Ace Hardware or the time spent with my face wedged underneath the driver’s seat.

Oh, yeah.  I almost forgot.  There’s another fuse box under the hood.  Great.

The Best Little Trailer . . . looking cute!

The Best Little Trailer . . . looking cute!

I haven’t tried putting in the new fuses yet.  At this point I’d rather drive around with no air conditioning or, better yet, just stay home.



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95 Responses to Why I hate auto mechanickin’

  1. cinandjules (NY) says:

    OMG…I haven’t laughed so hard in a while.

    The puller should work for both sets. The only difference should be the prongs or legs on the fuse. With my Chevy…I struggle just to get the cover off the fuse box….and yes I don’t know why one has to be a contortionist to access the area.

    ACE hardware employees are generally really helpful….”I think one of my fuses is bad..could you help me purchase the right one.” Some Walmarts have an automotive center. If you kept your receipt you can always return the fuses…wrong ones.

    On a lighter note…isn’t the plastic container……….cute? 😉

    Spike looks good being the co-pilot! Spike also says,”soaking your body in cold water seems to cool the soul.”

    There should be fuses in the BLT also!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Yeah, I could’ve included the fuse box cover ordeal in this story. Why does everything in auto mechanics have to be so dang DIFFICULT?

      So I live in a plastic container… You were talking about the BLT, right? 🙂

  2. Az- Vicki says:

    Sue…any Auto Zone will have the fuses and the nice guys there will put them in for you.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Aha! That’s how I got my windshield wipers installed. I just might swing by Auto Zone . . .

      • Az- Vicki says:

        Oh…Tara at our Auto Zone reminded me that the “girls” at Auto Zone can help you also…not just the guys! LOL… I stand corrected Tara!

  3. AZ Jim says:

    Sue you are priceless. You had me laughing thru the whole ordeal. No wonder I come here to visit with you. They say every good laugh adds hours to your life. At his rate, hell, I’ll live forever. You are a treasure.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Love your comment, Jim! My new slogan… Come to “rvsue and her canine crew” for the secret to longevity! I’m so happy you got a laugh out of this post. Weren’t Bridget and Spike good little actors for the photo illustrations?

      • AZ Jim says:

        Those two little furry ones are always a treat to watch. The have unique personalities too. I just love Spikes “belly soaks”. They have adapted to your current lifestyle beautifully. See ya later Sue and remember no matter how frustrated you get with things mechanical, don’t (wait for it)…….blow a fuse!!!!


  5. cinandjules (NY) says:

    I believe everyone is laughing because we’ve ALL been there and done that!

    I lost it at…..that sentence ends with a preposition.

  6. Mary Ann (Pontotoc, MS) says:

    Bridget looks concerned about mom struggling with those fuses. Spike just looks stoic and unconcerned–why get upset about a few prepositions hanging out there?

    My neck is aching just thinking about what you went through!

  7. Teri in SoCal says:

    Been there, done that. (or at least tried)

  8. Glenda from Glendale says:

    Thanks for the laugh Sue! I can just picture you all twisted up trying to replace that fuse. I wouldn’t be able to post the things I would have been saying to that fuse box! Gotta admire your determination to change that fuse. If all else fails go put on your sweet granny face and look “lost” in the aisles of Ace Hardware. It’s worth a try!! LOL

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’ll give the fuses one more try and if I hit another snag, I’ll get someone else to take care of it (Out with the granny face and voice . . . I ain’t proud). It’s a pleasure to read that you got a laugh from this, Glenda.

  9. Mick says:

    The seat may be removable by sliding it all the way forward or backward? You would have to be strong to remove it though. Just sliding it all the way back might give easier access? Everybody has trouble with all the different fuse sizes. The manual may tell the type?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Mick… Yeah, I slid the seat all the way back and it’s still under the seat. Oh my… the manual . . . I suppose I could’ve looked at that thing. 🙂

  10. Kathie Moore says:

    Had to have my husband read this immediately, because I knew he would relate. And did he ever!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Kathie and husband! May all your fuses come out when pulled and be the right ones to go back in. 🙂

  11. Reine in Plano says:

    Sue, I can completely sympathize. I think Paul has thought some interesting words when faced with a similar situation. We had fuse issues on our trip to Utah and of course we needed TWO different kinds. The inverter Paul bought was wired wrong and blew out the fuses on our DC outlets in the Avalanche and then the Casita. And we needed them because over half the trip was NO hookups.

    FYI, Sometimes looking helpless can be really useful even though that’s not your style. It might be worth it to try “helpless” on the folks in the big RV I see in the picture if they seem like nice folks.

    And to others, yes there are fuses in the BLT but they’re in a panel on the side of the bench where you can see them easily when you have Sue’s configuration. They’re down near the floor but no neck craning or contortions.

    Good luck getting the fuses changed and hope that solves the AC problem.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh man, what an ordeal you guys went through. And at the worst time!

      I don’t want to ask a fellow camper. Then first thing you know I have to SOCIALIZE and stuff. Haha! I’ll fix it myself or, more than likely, go to an auto supply store, buy more fuses and ask them to put them in for me. I know, pathetic, but that’s my general MO. LOL!

      • Reine in Plano says:

        Hey, if buying $4.00 in fuses will get a guy at the auto parts store to replace it for free that’s money WELL spent. Besides you need a replacement AND a spare. If you carry a spare you probably won’t ever need it.

  12. mockturtle says:

    Nice article but…Spike and Badger? Or did you start out with a different dog? So glad you received public recognition for the absolutely wonderful–in the true sense of the word–help you have given to Rusty and Timber. Great story! 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Badger was a mistake. The article should have said Bridget. We all got a laugh out of that one. So now Bridget’s nickname is Badger. Someone noted that when we happened to camp on Badger Mountain in Utah. Bridget has her own mountain!

      I’m glad the Rusty and Timber story was given recognition for many reasons. . . The support it’s given them and the new readers it brought here!

  13. You just described one of my typical mechanican days as well. Good to know there is actually one other person on this Planet with the same set of mechanican blues I have. Some people just have a knack for that kind of stuff but I’m not one of them. Understand exactly your frustration. Luckily for me Kelly is a handy person or I would still be sitting in a room somewhere with an old black & white television, rabbit ears, rotary dial phone, & bare feet………………………

  14. Oooops, got my mechanican mixed up with my mechanickin’. See what I mean:((

  15. BuckeyePatti says:

    OMG, only YOU could make the nightmare of replacing switches funny! LOL Hope you get them replaced and your A/C fixed. Meanwhile enjoy the cool water 🙂

  16. Mike says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of modern automotive engineering, Sue! Now put your hands outstretched to each side, palms up, with your index fingers touching your thumbs and say: “Oooooohhmmmm…..ooooohhmmmm……”

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Mike…. I stuck up a finger but it wasn’t the index! And my mantra wasn’t oooohhhmmmm . . . 🙂

      • cinandjules (NY) says:

        Oh you’re in rare form!

        Were you full of piss and vinegar as a child? heh heh

        I was having a bad day today………reading these posts made me laugh.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Oooh… sorry about the bad day. Hope you’re on the upswing now.

          No, I wasn’t a “piss and vinegar” type. I was the “try hard to please” type. That is until I hit middle-age and realized it wasn’t ever gonna’ happen. Now I let it fly and don’t care where it lands!

          • Donna D. (stickhouse in CT) says:

            I was the same way. I kept trying to please everyone hoping for approval. What a stupid way to live! I’m so glad I finally learned my lesson. I’m a perfectly nice person. If someone doesn’t like me that is their problem! 🙂

          • Ernest Smith says:

            “Middle Age” Oh Lord that just jumped right out at me…. Remember it well… That was when my “broad mind” and “narrow waist” traded places… 🙂 Another Fine Post Sue…. Thanks! Oh BTW I got both my AC units on my 1990 Class A replaced this week… $3,300 installed at Camping World.. Good thing they were “On Sale”. Here’s hoping they last 25 years like the other ones…. 🙂 Tell Spike & Bridget I said Hi.

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              You’re welcome, Ernest!

              As I write this we’re parked alongside the road … Spike and Bridget are conked out in the PTV… Spike in the passenger seat and Bridget on the bench seat.

              Wow! You’re in fine shape now with brand new AC units. Enjoy!

      • Lolalo says:

        Aaaahhhhaaaa!!! That would have been MY response! You are just too funny!

  17. Val R. Lakefield On. says:

    Funny post….made me laugh….Like the picture of your co-pilot…..Sue, one of these days, you just might find those needle nose plyers to come in handy. Yesterday on my walk I had a pointy piece of gravel go through my sneaker and was hurting my foot. I limped home, & those needle nosed plyers worked liked a charm getting that sucker out.
    Good luck with the fuses…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You may be right, Val, about the pliers. I may end up . . . “Gee, I didn’t know how handy these things are.” I could use them to take stickers out of paws when we camp in the desert, although I hope I don’t need to do that.

      Glad you got a laugh out of today’s post . . .

  18. Ladybug says:

    I just hope, after all this, that it is the fuse.

    I have a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer, so we’re probably talking about the same or similiar parts mechanical-wise. My A/C recently stopped working, too. I could tell it was making cold air (I have a second A/C in the back) but it wasn’t blowing. I had to have my car in the shop for something else and I said ‘while it’s here, could you just see what’s wrong/what the price to fix it would be?’. Turns out it was the a/c motor blower resistor, which is not in itself an expensive part, but it’s up in the dash area. I was quoted about $450 total to replace it (not at the dealer). I decided I could live with my rear a/c by itself for awhile.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Darn! That’s a hefty bill, which is typical for A/C repair, I’m told. So, yes, I hope it’s only a fuse…

      Now if you could figure out a way to drive from the rear of the Trailblazer . . .

      Thanks for stopping by, Ladybug!

  19. EmilyO of KS says:

    One of my favorite tools, is the needle-nose pliers – I have them in 3 different sizes with smallest one for my craft work. Oh, a hammer is good when the pliers don’t work!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Emily…. Never been a crafter. I’m a big afficionado of the rubber mallet. When something (or someone) doesn’t go where I want it, I whack it with my mallet. Great tool.

  20. Gaelyn says:

    Plus auto manufacturers put sharp edges in places you can’t see but have to put a hand to get cut. My Dad, the mechanic, told me that.

  21. Elizabeth Evelyn aka E2/etwo says:

    Your blog is what I read before I shut the ‘puter down for the night. It is always very
    entertaining! A good laugh is a great way to end the day!
    Your wrestle with the fuses made for delightful reading and great laughs! Thanks so much for providing great humor with your posts!
    Usually by the time I read your posts there are many comments. I always go back in the morning, or sometime during the day to read the rest of the comments that have
    been added since the previous night. Would you consider numbering each comment so that the last one read by anyone can be found with a bit more ease? If that is possible, of course…… If that is too much guess I could just count them myself???? DUH!

    As a child I was more mechanically inclined/interested than my bro…. as was my Mom more than my Dad. I took stuff apart to find out how it all worked. The parts were fascinating and it was fun putting stuff back together! I started RV’ing FT at
    age 53 with a full set of tools and fuses as well. At this point, approaching age 82, I
    have no further interest in taking things apart, or repairing anything…… been there
    and done that. The Granny game works great! I feel like I do have at least the tools
    for some nice young man to work with! I also pretty much know what needs to be done should the nice young man not have those parts in his tool box! My hands just
    work on the computer keyboard and the musical keyboard…. they are not strong enough to grasp and pull and turn anything anymore! My thumbs are a bit bent out
    of normal shape as well…..
    Thanks for your humor and your willingness to share your delightful and charming
    life with us! You are definitely a Treasure, as someone wrote in these comments!

    Hugs to you and your cute furkids……

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Elizabeth!

      I understand not wanting to fool around fixing mechanical things any more. It’s a lot more enjoyable to let someone else do it!

      There’s no way I could number comments. As it is I’m driving about 12 miles one way just to read comments. I could never keep up with the numbering.

      Glad you found my post humorous. You have a wonderful weekend!

  22. Trip and Lisa says:

    Hey Sue,If you would have said something 3 weeks ago when the danged A/C went out,I woulda sent you the fuses AND a nice pair of needle nose pliers for you to keep.
    I have so many spare tools I should just out together a nice little box for ya.

    I hope that fuse is what it is but I’m still bettin a rotiserie chicken that it’s the blower motor,just from my experience is all I base that on.

    I have been tellin Lisa all this time your not a day over 49 and here ya been on this earth how long?,lol.

    I know,I know,,,,,what your saying ends with a preposistion right?.
    Have a great week Sue and thanks so much for sharing with us and package heading Rusty’s way.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You have a great week, too! Thanks for the house-warming package.

      Hmm . . . blower motor… could be that.

      Me? Under 49 and this wise? 🙂

  23. Mark Watson says:

    I got behind in my RVSUE reading.
    Understand you have an air conditioner AND a fan problem. A lot of times, the dash fan works, but the A/C doesn’t cool properly and you end up with hot air blowing out of the dash vents. Do you say your not even blowing hot air because your dash fan is not working? If so, that could be a blown fuse in your dash fan circuit. If your checking and replacing A/C fuses, you might want to look at your owners guide to see what fuse is associated with the dash fan. If you can get hot air to blow, that’s good. then work on why the A/C doesn’t work. There is a small chance if you get the fan to work, if there is nothing wrong with the A/C system, you might have cold air blowing if you get the fan to work.
    Also, there should be some relays ( small square objects that plug into the boards your fuses are on), owners guide could indicate which relays control what functions, (dash air, A/C). You might have a loose relay. You might be able to tap on the relay with a plastic end of a screw driver, that might make something work.

    Sorry if this was mentioned already, but I’m behind in my reading.
    Good luck.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The dash fan is not working. I’ll check the relays to make sure they aren’t loose. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to explain this stuff.

  24. Mark Watson says:

    found this… http://www.justanswer.com/chevy/5k6we-chevy-express-van-heater-blower-not-work.html.
    Talks about blower fuse being in fuse box under hood… 40 amp.
    Also firm raps on the blower motor… After those 2 things, the blower started working.

    Mark Watson

  25. Tom says:

    Here’s a thought for ya, I guessing that you might not have the owners manual for the PTV. If that’s the case, it’s readily available as a PDF… just google it. Your fuse diagrams are there to read, right on your computer screen.

    I’ve found that the PDF is much easier to use than the hard copy that comes with the vehicle, and I can read it from the comfort of my chair without having to go out and dig through my glove compartment.



  26. bill says:

    If hot air is coming out it may be a vacuum control hose. Vacuum controls little doors that direct air flow. Can be found under hood. Thanks for a great site

  27. mariah says:

    This is off the subject of fuses, but why have I stopped receiving your blog by email?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Mariah,

      Over a month ago I switched from a WordPress hosted site to a self-hosted site (rvsueandcrew.com became rvsueandcrew.net). The email notification plug-in did not transfer. I haven’t been able to come up with anything as good. There is, however, a place to sign up at the bottom of this page. Yes, you have to sign up for it again. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

  28. John fossildreamer says:

    All I have to say is Thank You what a great way to start my day,,
    still have a big Grin on my face,, Safe travels…

  29. wheelingit says:

    TOTALLY with you on those fuses. We had a fuse go out in our rig several months back and decided to try and decipher the fuse panel…OMG! Turns out several of our fuses didn’t even match what was in the manual. Enough to drive you nutters.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh yeah. Don’t you love it when your manual is for several different models and you find out two-thirds through the process that it tells you to do something to a do-hickey you don’t even have? Gee, that’s a heckuva long question…

  30. Steve & Tara says:

    My wife and I are followers of your blog. I run a small automotive shop and although I don’t do house calls out of state, I may be able to help with your blower motor issue. If you so desire, I can email a wiring diagram with an explanation of the circuit. You may not be able to diagnose the problem yourself but having knowledge of the circuit may help you if the van needs to be diagnosed at a shop. I’m assuming the van is a 1500 (not the 2500 model). The diagram identifies the 3 fuses that operate the system, the resistor assembly, and the blower motor. There is no relay for the front blower.
    We enjoy your blog and hope we can help.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Steve and Tara! Thank you for following my blog.

      I appreciate you wanting to help but, to be frank, my eyes crossed reading your comment about wiring and circuit and resistor assembly and oh, SOMEBODY, HELP ME! I’m going to faint!

      Your offer is very thoughtful, Steve, but it would fly right over my little head.

  31. Pat says:

    Sweet Sue,

    As I sit here smiling about your fuse issue, I am waiting on the Neal Harris guy for the third time, to call about coming out to repair my house air conditioner fan. I hate all repair issues. I am the un-handiest person on earth. My dear husband is suffering from Montazuma’s Revenge. He once upon a time did all of our repairs, but a spinal fusion and age have done away with all of that. We now call for help and we pay for all repairs (auto and home). I enjoy your writings and all the nice helpers who write to you, but I am glad that I don’t have to be under your dashboard. I do envy your travels, but I am with Spike on the rewards of belly deep water. Screw all repairs. Just give me my Kindle and a glass of wine. I am smiling and wishing you good luck and happiness. I do like needle nose pliers and I have my own set even tho I’ve never used them.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Pat!

      “Sweet Sue” wasn’t so sweet with her head under the driver’s seat! I’m with you on paying someone else to do the work. Hope the repair guy showed up and got your air conditioning going again.

  32. Mindy Reed says:

    Snort….snort some more…good thing I’m not drinking anything anywhere near my brand new computer. I’m not laughing at you…I promise I’m laughing with you remembering my own adventures in fuses.

    At near 63 living on a small farm I have daily adventures (often un-wanted) of do it your self stuff.

    I’m glad you had a really nice place to cool off.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh farm repairs are right up there with auto mechanics… You have to possess the right type of brain. It’s genetic or something.

      Glad I got a few snorts out of you, Mindy!

  33. Cari in North Texas says:

    As Mindy said, I’m laughing *with* you, not *at* you. I have had some of the same type experiences trying to figure out things by myself. My latest adventure was with the timer for my sprinkler system. I had to order a new transformer (looks like a power cord to me, but whatever) and when it arrived, the ends that plug into the timer didn’t match the old one. Couldn’t get it to attach to the timer, so I went to 2 different hardware stores, hoping they had one to match the old one. No such luck. I came back home and told the new one, you are going to connect if I have to hammer you into submission. After several more tries of pushing and pulling, it finally slid into place, and the system now works like a charm! Ironically, after running it on Tuesday night, it rained on Wed. and today (Friday).

    I so enjoy your posts – you have a way of turning even bad news and challenges into funny stories. And the crew seems so willing to help out wherever needed 😉

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Cari!

      I think you’ve touched on the secret to mechanical repairs. You have to be brave enough to jam, wedge, hammer, and kick whatever you’re working on.

      Yeah, life has a way of presenting me with an endless supply of material to blog about! 🙂

  34. Donna in CT says:

    I sure hope after all of this that it IS just the fuse. Yikes if it isn’t.

  35. skiMore says:

    You can visually tell if the fuse is blown. Look at the little wire in the fuse (it’s that “Z” shaped wire in the yellow fuse picture). If the fuse is blown you will see that the wire is broken.

    Note: If the fuse is blown it might have blown because there is something wrong.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The wire looked okay but the prongs were brown (not silver). Oh, well… I got to use my new needle-nosed pliers.

  36. bobg says:

    Hey, Sue,

    I just used needle nosed pliers to pull the buried remains of my water heater drain plug out of the hole when the top snapped off. It’ll come in handy. For instance, if I ever need to pull my upper lip over the back of my head….

    Bob on the road in Buena Vista, CO.

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