RETIREMENT DIY – Changing a Brake Light Switch with a dose of humor

The joys of retirement. No money, but lots of time. Do stuff yourself you say. Save money!…..seems like a great plan!

I had to change my brake light switch today. It was messing up my cruise control and activating my trailer brake controller & trailer brakes. It would happen when the brake pedal was normal, driving down the road.

Seems like a simple enough repair on the surface. There was a $125 diag fee, plus parts and labor, to have this repair done. I already knew what the problem was. Not parting with $200-$300 seemed like a good DIY trade-off.

The $12 part came today off Amazon. A simple thing. Remove 1 bolt and a retaining clip, pull the switch out of position. Unplug the wiring harness connector. Reverse the process and call it done.

Now this is where it gets good. About the time you say its a 30 minute job, its not!

The bolt….no problem. The retaining clip….well this could be used for a measurement in an IQ test. I might add this is in a van, up under the dash, in the dark, and in a very awkward location. My arms would not bend that way. And that clip was not clearly visible.

I added a flash light, a stick to hold a major wiring harness out of the way. Knelt on the ground….couldn’t see….couldn’t bend my hands where I wanted them…

Contemplated the fact if I popped this thing off would I ever get it back on?

Now I am upside down on the drivers seat…head and neck on the floor trying to still figure out that retaining clip….the flashlight falls and rolls. Did I mention I am not 20 years old and can’t bend like I used too? Well I guess I still can but it doesn’t come without pain. Either immediate, or perhaps the next day. Time to try something else.

Thoughts of parts and labor not so out of line….LOL

I drag out the extension cord and a regular light….Tried the upside down seat thing again….did I mention when you get older your eyes don’t focus as well as they did at one time…kept knocking my glasses caddy-wompus and had to re-adjust my upside down seat position so I could bend my arms to fix my glasses. I swear 40 some years ago this stuff seemed easier.

Deep breath and slow sigh…..This required a new tactic. I moved to lay across my two front seats and slipped down between the seats and the center engine hump, on my side, facing forward…..remember this is a van. More later on why a retired, more plump person, might find out later this would result in a new problem to solve.

Hey I found out how to remove the retaining clip. It took 2 seconds once you move through that learning curve. Being able to see from this crammed up vantage point certainly helped. Clip off, switch off, harness unplugged, didn’t even break the cheap plastic harness connector lock! Those snap in locks that always break and really cause a problem…..reversed all steps and bolted the switch on, no problem. 5 Minutes.

The next problem (one that wasn’t planned on) was getting myself off the floor and back on the seats. Squirming around while making the repair, had eased my body completely onto the floor. It was actually quite comfortable down there.

But I couldn’t get back up! I was nearly pinned in there. One arm and hand up grabbing the steering wheel trying to pull myself up….the spare arm up above my head, trying to maneuver that spare arm up under my body to help push up. Several times my steering wheel hand accidentally blowing the horn. Feet thrashing the air trying to get them up on the passenger seat…hoping to get some leverage to help with the body lift.

I mention all of this because I found humor in myself and what I must look like if someone was watching. I started laughing. Had to rest and start over.

I did manage to get free just as my neighbor pulled up. I said “Hi”. He made some remark in question format like “Are you laying down on the job again?” He obviously did not see the flailing feet through the windshield.

What could I say? Busted! I just laughed. He had no clue what had just gone on.

I just chock this up to the joys of retirement. Now I have the time to fix stuff. But not the money to hire it done. The list seems endless. Every day is an experience! Some are just a little more humorous.