The other day, my car’s “check engine” light came on, so I motored on over to the auto parts store to have them plug in their code reader and tell me what’s going on under the hood. When the store clerk ran down the code, he said, “It’s the EGR.” (While I smiled outwardly, inwardly I groaned because usually things that are referred to by their initials cost a lot of money: MRI, ACL, IRS, etc. Ugh!) He explained that EGR stood for Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve, and that it was a $90 part that . . . and I stopped listening because I was amazed that I finally had something on my car that wasn’t going to cost the naming rights to an unborn grandchild and a vital organ to fix. However, before I got cocky and thought the automotive gods were finally smiling upon me, I decided I better ask the guy if he could show me where on the engine this three-letter wonder resided. With my luck, it WAS GOING TO COST ME a vital organ because it will require a special tool of which there are only two in the world, and the one that’s available would need to be flown in from Madagascar.
While Auto Parts Guy was looking up a diagram on the store computer, he told me, “Oh, just thought you’d like to know: the part has a lifetime warranty.” I stopped him and said, “Do you see the irony there?” He just blinked, so I added, “If the part is so reliable to have a lifetime warranty, why does mine need to be replaced?” He smiled and went back to looking for the diagram.
Auto Parts Guy showed me that it was a VERY accessibly spot and explained that replacing the part only required removing the snap-onelectrical connector and two nuts. The old part slips off, and the new part goes on. “It’s easy,” he said. “Anyone can do it.” Upon hearing that, dread suddenly filled me. I looked him in the eye and said, “Those are six very simple words that, when taken individually, are absolutely harmless, but when you arrange them in this particular order, you’ve just created an incantation to summon demons from the deepest corners of Hell and insured SOMETHING will go wrong. You do realize that, right?” He thought I was kidding. I was not!
I got home and popped the hood to change out the EGR valve. After removing the snap-onelectrical connector, I went to remove the first nut with the socket wrench. The nut didn’t want to budge, and I had visions of something catastrophic happening because I applied too much pressure. Just as I was about to lose myself to anxiety, the nut gave and began to unthread smoothly from the bolt. With one nut removed, I could see that the valve WAS easily removable,so I felt a calm wash over me as I went to address the second nut. It needed a bit of coaxing, too, but quickly began unthreading without a problem. I was almost giddy when I went to remove the second nut and IT FELL INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE ENGINE. I was cursed! I looked everywhere for that infernal nut, and it was nowhere to be found. The engine had somehow absorbed it. Ugh!
After replacing the old part with the new one, securing the one nut as tightly as I dared, and reconnecting the electrical connector, I carefully drove back to the auto parts store. I found Auto Parts Guy and explained what had happened and asked if they had any extra nuts. He went into the back and rummaged around and came back with a nut. We popped the hood on my car, and he threaded the second nut onto the bolt, tightened it, and looked up at me and said, “It’s easy. Anyone can do it.” Oh, the irony!
Many of today’s first-time homebuyers are filled with anxiety over whether now’s the right time to buy. Just like how Auto Parts Guy had to SHOW me to convince me, we have to do the same with these first-timers. “It’s easy, anyone can do it” won’t suffice. And if we take the time to SHOW them so they are comfortable with the process, they’ll be customers for life . . . sort of like a lifetime warranty, right?