The good news is that I got my pick-up, Rocinante, back on Friday. The bad news was that the engine light was still coming on, and the truck couldn’t really speed up or climb hills. The folks at the body shop said the whole deer incident didn’t have anything to do with this—just more old fashioned bad luck. I was happy to get my wheels back, but I was nervous about having to fix whatever was going on under the hood. After talking to some people, I figured it was either my ignition coil or my spark plugs; I was going to fix this myself instead of taking the truck in and spend even more money (March was an expensive month).
I borrowed a friend’s car and drove to a few auto parts stores and bought a new ignition coil, new spark plugs, and a few other things for my weekend adventure. Back at the house, I cranked up some Deep Purple and popped open a can of Lone Star and went to work. Now, I have a Ford F-150 and the more and more I work on this truck, the more I feel like Ford makes things a little weird just to make you want to just bring your vehicle into the dealership and let them deal with—but maybe I’m just annoyed at how inept I am auto repairs. Anyway, removing the plug wires was super easy, taking out the wiring harness was a little more difficult but I got it done. The rest was just removing the bolts that held the ignition coil in place. Should be super easy, right? Not so fast. The front bolt was a simple task. The two in the back? Different story. The ignition coil in my truck is far in the back, so those last remaining bolts were nearly impossible to reach. Trying to get a socket wrench in there was going to be the trial of the weekend. I fooled around to see if I could jerry-rig something, but it was no use. Ultimately, I had to make two trips to Auto Zone to get a new socket wrench with a swivel head (and another trip for an adapter) and I was back in business.
With some careful maneuvering, I was able to get into that crevice and remove the bolt and take off the whole ignition coil. Then came the problem of trying to install the new part and remembering where every little wire and plug went. Luckily, I expected this to happen so I had taken pictures of everything on my phone for reference. And actually, putting the new ignition coil only took several minutes. I wasn’t sure if it would work, of course, but at least I didn’t have extra nuts or bolts laying around in mystery. Before I decided to jump start another adventure with spark plugs, I figured I should see how well the truck handled with her new coil. I put the key in the ignition, crossed my fingers, and started the engine.
The engine purred, and no “Check Engine” light flashed at me. I backed out of the driveway and motored around town just to be sure, and it was as if there had never been a problem.
So I’m happy to report not only do I have my pick-up back, but I now can successfully replace an ignition coil. Not bad work for old Bad Luck Bill.
Writer living in Central Texas.