Repairing the 2000 Saturn LW1 Station Wagon

Most of you don’t know that I’m very privileged and honored to be one of the few, last owners of a Saturn. Remember the Saturn? It was a different kind of car company. They were shut down during the great Obama take over of General Motors in 2008. Why? Because they were a non-union company. 

This means that Saturn, along with Hummers, and other car companies went away. The cars owners of such brands became owners of what are called zombies. Their cars are among the walking dead. It’s only a matter of time.

And it is only a matter of time for Fred, my 2000 Saturn LW1. The engine works great. The transmission is fine. More importantly, the air conditioner works, which is a must living in Texas. 

However, lots of things on the 2000 Saturn LW1 do not work and more and more are breaking with the coming and going of each scorching summer. 

Last Summer, I lost the use of both windows in the back seat. After making a stop in Dallas, I got back into my scorching car, and did what I always did, rolled down the windows to let the nuclear air out, and the 99 degree heat inside. It was my way of giving the AC a fighting chance. After driving for a few minutes, I rolled up the windows in the back and heard a crunching noise from one of the windows. Apparently the cable inside shredded the gears and pulleys. The window no longer worked. 

OK, I thought. I can live with that. But I couldn’t because the window decided to make a slow decent downward into the door, thereby rendering my AC completely useless. 

The solution? Pull the window back up and duct tape it closed. Now please, don’t think I’m some tasteless redneck using duct tape to fix my windows. The duct tape I used was color coordinated with my car. It looked great (see the picture above). 

I checked the prices for getting the window fixed. Just the unit inside the door alone cost $130, not to mention the labor. Clearly, outside the budget.

I could live with the duct tape. I was resolved to not let it hinder me from getting where I needed to go with an upbeat, positive, nothing to dampen my spirits attitude. 

Then, a few months later, the other window made the same crunching noise. No big deal, I thought. More duct tape. This is how it was going to be. I could live with it, except for one problem: the windows kept making a slow slide downward, and I ended up needing more and more duct tape to close the gap. Again, not to be deterred, I pressed on.

Then the window on the driver’s side really began to slide, and it was halfway open. The duct tape was no longer working. And my wife needed to be able to use the car next week. She politely let me know, that something needed to get fixed.

For those of you who know me, this caused me a great deal of anxiety. I’m not a mechanical guy. Changing light bulbs, hanging pictures, cleaning the bathroom, no problem. Changing the oil? Do we still have to do that with our modern technology? 

But I had to do something and I couldn’t afford to take to our mechanic for this. I new from conversations that the cheapest way to fix the windows was to put a piece of wood inside the door, to prop up the window. So I set out watching Youtube videos in order to see how it was done. I didn’t actually find any videos showing the use of wood to prop up the window. But I found some to help me see how to take the door apart. Wow, I never realized a door could be so complicated. Did you know there are all kinds of wires inside the door? And they are connected to things like light, speakers, and locks?

I thought that maybe, with the help of Joey, my 13 year old, I might have a fighting chance of getting it fixed. Joey is the only one in the family, who is mechanically inclined. For instance, if you give him a Lego set with 8,000 pieces, he actually gets all 8,000 pieces where they belong to make whatever it was that was advertised on the box. Not me. I only manage to get square looking cars, and dumpy block houses. In other words, Joey is clearly gifted in the area of following directions and being able to see how things work, like actually work. Not the “hey look it’s magic” kind of work.

We took the car over to our garage and made an attempt to take off the inside of the door, since this is the way a real mechanic would have done it. But we couldn’t get it off. I’m sure that there was some screw under a plastic cover that I needed to remove to get the panel off. But we couldn’t find it.

Back to Youtube and another search. 

I found a fellow Saturn owner who was actually fixing his window. In his video he showed us how to take off the outside panel instead of the inside panel. This was done so that you didn’t have to worry about all the wires and what they were connected to. To my surprise, 30 minutes later, we had the panel off, and nothing was broken. It came off just like he showed us in the video. Wow, this car mechanic thing was working out really well. 

Rummaging through our garage, I found some two pieces of wood that went to some of the furniture for our boys room. I don’t think we have the corresponding furniture any longer. I measured from the bottom of the window to the inside of the door: exactly 18 inches. 

Out with the hand saw and the wood was exactly 18 inches. Now, how to get it to remain in place to hold up the window. Then the “uh-oh” came. Apparently, when I measured inside the door, the window was not all the way up. I pushed it all the way up. Now the 18-inch board was too short. Well, I did have another piece of wood I could cut. It dawned on me that if I used the scrap piece as a filler, it would fit. And it did. Perfectly, and snuggly. (I’m not sure the word “snuggly” would ever be used inside a real mechanics shop. But if I ever open a mechanics shop, I’ll call it Snuggly’s Automotive.)

I needed something to secure the wood to the mechanical thingy. I found an O clamp. It worked great. Not only was the wood snugglied up to the mechanical thingy, it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

I was so proud. We did it. 

Then we had to put the door back together. And we did that too. Yipper, it was like brand new, only 20 years old brand new, and it didn’t work brand new. But you get the idea. The window was no longer going to make a slow descent southward as I drove. My AC would purr along and everything would be good. We “fixed” it. 

Now, we just have one more door to fix and the 2000 Saturn LW1 will be ready for summer.






1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s