I have always left auto maintenance to the professionals. It is not that I am incapable of learning these skills; it is just that I have put my brain to other uses. Just before my March trailer trip my truck encountered a post, taking out the driver's side mirror and putting dents and scrapes along the door. With no time to wait for repairs before the trip, I over-nighted a trailer mirror that clamped to the fender. So what if it required strapping tape to keep it pointing in the right direction? Until the trailer is painted it just adds a little more to our scruffy low-rent appearance.
Several months later I set out to have this fixed. Only the dealership has the right part (why doesn't everyone carry parts for a 1994 Nissan pickup?). I received a quote of $230-some for just the mirror; over $400 when you include the labor. Highway robbery! Meanwhile I am planning to trade the truck in for a stronger tow vehicle in the next few months and I have been assured by all local dealers that it is not worth more than $500 in trade, probably less with a missing mirror. Sigh.
Time to bravely enter the world of auto maintenance. I went online and ordered an offbrand replacement for $15 (plus $15 shipping). At that price I wouldn't be out much if it didn't work. Then I went out on the internet looking for instructions on how to remove the inside door panel. The range of advice was magnificent. I even found a You-Tube video of someone removing the door panel of a 1994 Nissan Sentra set to music. Anticipating trouble, I set aside Saturday for this task. Imagine my pleasant surprise when the entire operation took about 40 minutes and that included 10 minutes looking for a dropped cotter pin!
OK, replacing a mirror is not like replacing the transmission or anything else complicated, but I still feel triumphant. For $30 and a coat hanger I have accomplished what costs over $400 at Nissan of Reno.
I think I'll go treat my truck to a wash.