A few months ago, my 4Runner died. I had gone into a store, and when I came out and turned the key, just a bunch of clicking… no life. It was pretty obvious that the starter was the problem, so we got it parked in the driveway with the intention of getting to work on it when it warmed up a bit. A few warm days came here and there, but still the 4Runner sat, pathetically mocking me every time I passed by.
You see, I had a problem on top of my car problem. I knew what the car problem was, and I knew roughly what needed to be done to fix it: Take bad starter out, put good starter in. So simple, right? But I’ve been dreading doing it for a few reasons.
- I didn’t know exactly where the starter on my old 4Runner was. I knew what it was supposed to do, and roughly where it should be, but not exactly where or the best way to reach it, so I knew I’d have to do a lot of hunting before being able to make any progress.
- The engine compartment of my 4Runner is a mess. 20 years of small leaks and dusty places have added up to be a thick black layer of sludge covering basically everything. It’s hard to tell where one part stops and another starts! (Plus, grimy, greasy hands… I have issues.)
- I’d read several horror stories of other 4Runner owners taking of entire suspension packages just to be able to reach their starter, then discovering the starter wasn’t actually the whole problem anyway. Maybe it was the wiring, or a relay somewhere. I didn’t want to do a ton of work to find out the problem wasn’t really what I thought it was.
So, the 4Runner sat until yesterday at lunch. I finally decided to stop putting it off and start digging in to the mess of parts and pieces by taking off the wheel. Once the wheel was off, I took off a guard panel inside the wheel well to open up some more space and get a clear(er) view of where the starter was supposed to be. As I began to peak in and poke around a little bit, I noticed something strange – a bolt just hanging from it’s perch in the engine block. Surely that should be tightened to something!?
Turns out, it was one of two bolts that holds the starter in place! The starter was just laying there, not bolted in – I have no idea how that can even happen, but I guess after almost 180,000 miles, a two inch bolt CAN revolve enough to fall out! Fortunately, the bolt was still hanging there, so I lifted the starter a bit and wedged my hands into enough space to tighten the bolt.
After some extra juice via some jumper cables, it started right up. A project I’d been dreading because it seemed beyond the scope of my mechanical acumen (which is rather limited, I’m told) turned out to be easily remedied. I just had to dig in… I just had to START to find that out.
I wonder how often we miss simple solutions because we’re afraid to start.
Is there a tough question you’ve been afraid to ask?
Is there a hard conversation you’ve been putting off?
A potential conflict you’ve been avoiding?
A big project you just aren’t finding time for?
Get some help and START.
You just might find it’s not as difficult as you thought (and even if it is, you’ll be one step closer to resolution).