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toodleroo OP t1_j3ptc8i wrote

After working on this for a couple of weeks, my mom drove the car to pick up my aunt from the airport. She didn't even recognize it at first and actually started walking towards a different silver SUV at the gate. When she finally realized, she started crying right there on the sidewalk and basically didn't stop the whole way home.

One detail I left out of the image notes: I replaced the driver's seat belt, which had nearly frayed in half.

Edit: she's so excited. She just texted me a picture of the headlight pattern cast on her garage door. She still hasn't noticed I replaced the frayed seat belt.


bobdiamond t1_j3pwnsu wrote

Are you pretty handy with cars, or did you just figure it out along the way?


toodleroo OP t1_j3pxwah wrote

Fairly handy, but I haven't done a project quite like this before. There's really not a lot to it if you've got the basic tools. It's just a matter of noting the order of removal so that you put things back on correctly, and then fiddling a lot with the fit to get it all right. I live fairly close to a lot of salvage yards and enjoy hunting through them. Also having a Toyota dealership close by to replace small broken parts and clips is helpful.


PIPBOY-2000 t1_j3r8jc7 wrote

The fiddling to get things to fit is the part that cannot be understated. For me that's a massive portion of doing anything myself.

I see a how-to youtube video and think "Oh that looks easy" and then I proceed to take way longer than the guy in the video to get that one thing to actually fit in or come off right.


Shuggaloaf t1_j3s6oa2 wrote

Just add a few points to your repair skill, you'll be good to go.


PIPBOY-2000 t1_j3sb5se wrote

What I really need is the jury-rigging perk


Shuggaloaf t1_j3sft7i wrote

Wait... do you mean jury-rigged or jerry-rigged?

edit: TIL both terms can mean the same thing


PIPBOY-2000 t1_j3siuhq wrote

Jury rigging is what fallout calls it. Which is what I thought we were referencing


Shuggaloaf t1_j3spyiw wrote

Yeah we're referencing FO and I never caught that!

They must have mixed up the term (or did it on purpose as a kinda joke).


PIPBOY-2000 t1_j3sqjjr wrote

According to Google jury rigging is the right term? Jury rigged is just the past tense form


Shuggaloaf t1_j3srtn1 wrote

Interesting! I'm from the mid-atlantic US and we always said "jerry-rigged". I just looked it up and found this:

>The word jerry-rigged may be a blend of jury-rigged and jerry-built, or it may be a variant pronunciation or spelling of jury-rigged. Jerry-rigged is found by the late 19th-century.

> In everyday speech, the word jerry-rig is widely used, though some sticklers insist that it’s incorrect. It’s sometimes used in journalism as well. Its definition is the same as jury-rigged.

So I'd say you are more correct than I since "jerry-rigged" seems to be derived jury-rigged and jerry-built (never heard that one). although jerry-rigged has been used since at least the late 1800's, it's probably more regional and hasn't been used as long as jury-rigged.

Glad to have left my earlier comment, learned something new today! :)


PIPBOY-2000 t1_j3stfoc wrote

Wow that's interesting, now that you mention it, outside of fallout I've heard people say "Jerry rigged" but for some reason the fallout use "jury" never seemed off to me.

Thanks for sharing what you learned! (:


Shuggaloaf t1_j3tlcwa wrote

No worries! And when you said jury-rigged I was thinking like rigging a jury. Like for a court case. haha

Also, a crazy coincidence, I was just searching for something and was scanning through one of the links I clicked and I see this:


Leiryn t1_j3rnka6 wrote

People get mad at me when I say some things aren't that hard you just have to figure out how and do the work, they don't want to do either of those things


toodleroo OP t1_j3s7wkt wrote

I was fixing something at the office one day, and was switching between a bit and a philips head driver in the cordless drill. My coworker saw me do this and was like, “wow! How did you learn to be so handy?” I said something like “from my parents,” but inside I was thinking that using a drill ain’t rocket science. People just seem to have an aversion to learning how to do new things, which is a shame because it’s easier than ever with the resources available online. What I think is impressive is that my dad was doing the same things 50 years ago without the benefit of youtube.


Crrunk t1_j3tx8ky wrote

I agree.. some time ago you got a HomeOwners Manual or something along those lines and if it wasn't in there you had to figure it out or ask the guy down at your local hardware store... Being handy required literal know how and experience... Now we have access to information to just about anything at our literal fingertips.. It's amazing!


achenx75 t1_j3s4x9v wrote

Once you've done it a few times, the confidence to know what to do is second nature. That's why doing things for the first time seems that much more least that's what I think.


bobdiamond t1_j3sd8xj wrote

Not speaking for everyone, but the hesitation for me is the fear of making an irreversible mistake and causing more problems than when I started. I know that's how you learn, but it's friction nonetheless


meggywoo709 t1_j3ptbpa wrote

I love this so much!!!!!

What a heartfelt present to say thank you :) good job


toodleroo OP t1_j3pv6ah wrote

Thank you! Her reaction was a great reward. Mom said that she kept saying, "why would he do this??"


huniojh t1_j3q7hcw wrote

This is where she starts to think: "Did he crash it?" :p


WendyBNoy t1_j3puetg wrote

You are a good person and I'm sure your family is super proud of you! Such a thoughtful thing to do.


toodleroo OP t1_j3puzak wrote

Seeing her reaction (mom took a video) made it all worth it :)


theshak06 t1_j3ptcyj wrote

That was a very nice gesture and good for you.


toodleroo OP t1_j3pv356 wrote

Thank you! I'm now a damned expert in how the front of Toyota Highlanders are put together.


charliespider t1_j3pwifb wrote

This made my day. Thanks for being such an awesome person. Great job too.


marlenamarley87 t1_j3qtfb2 wrote


Damn fine job, and what a considerate gesture. Your momma raised you well!


Brak710 t1_j3snsvf wrote

This is a great project. The "look good, feel good" mentality extends to what you're driving in my opinion. The headlights alone were a huge fix, and you nearly restored the car to its original look.

Your aunt will drive this into the ground because it looks great and she's proud of her nephew!


toodleroo OP t1_j3tekai wrote

I agree, and you're definitely right about the headlights. I didn't go into this in the image comments, but finding the body panels was pretty tough... there is a surprising lack of Highlanders at wrecking yards. Maybe they're still all on the road? So I thought, I'll just get the headlights and that will be good enough. But it was like putting lipstick on a pig; they looked so great that it made the hail damage look that much worse. So I ended up getting a hood and fenders that were less than perfect, but they look a heck of a lot better than what was on the car.


RenAndStimulants t1_j3q1pt1 wrote

My aunt and uncle had a very similar car and year which was hit in the front due to someone sliding on ice. But after some home repairs ran great for 8 more years until they sold it for a nice little down on something newer.

Awesome and lasting repair I think!


mrsc00b t1_j3ql5b9 wrote

Well done, op. Looks like a new car again.


sectorfour t1_j3tdzcx wrote

Dude what a nice thing to do. It was already going to last hundreds of thousands more miles, now it’ll look good doing it.


[deleted] t1_j3r20zg wrote



just-mike t1_j3tnod3 wrote

When I first move from a snow and ice region to southern California I was amazed at all the older rust free cars. My daily is now a 1999 Subaru Legacy.


capebretonpost- t1_j3s2e6g wrote

Man! That looks 1000% better. Great job all around. Driving older cars that run good forever is the best. Makes it easier to stomach driving the older rigs when they look this good. Awesome work.


fizmixa t1_j3siy42 wrote

you are a good nephew!


bighootay t1_j3u63lb wrote

Hey man, I'm way late to this post, but I want to congratulate you on a job well done and being an awesome person. Made me smile. :)


Addicted-2Diving t1_j3uf3g8 wrote

What a nice gesture. Came out great. I see you got a battle wound while working. 👍


redditor54 t1_j3v7hov wrote

Blood always gets drawn when doing anything worthwhile on a vehicle, its just the way it is.


Bloody knuckles krew!


toodleroo OP t1_j3v7xxu wrote

Would you believe I did this by rapping my knuckles against the side of the dash while loosening the fender bolt behind the door?


macs_rock t1_j50wyta wrote

Dashboards and interior work has gashed me far worse than anything under the hood or the outside.


thunderhole t1_j3t0ixc wrote

Did you replace the head light plastic or just clean them? I want my head lights to look like this again.


toodleroo OP t1_j3tfamb wrote

I've futzed around with polishing kits before, but nothing beats the clarity of brand new plastic. I replaced the whole headlamp assembly on both sides. They were very reasonably priced, and included bulbs:

Typically, the newer the car, the more expensive the headlights will be. If her car was 10 years newer, I'd have paid $250 for a pair of headlights.


kittyinasweater t1_j3u25c3 wrote

It's relatively cheap to buy new headlights on Amazon for pretty much any car. The OEM headlights will cost an arm and a leg but the Amazon ones work just fine. We installed several sets at my old shop. Way easier than trying to clean them if they look like the ones in OPs pictures.


Explodedhamster t1_j3tp8r7 wrote

Fantastic work! I did this exact same work on my 1998 4runner that had damage from hitting a deer.

It feels so good to make a big improvement like this


toodleroo OP t1_j3ttyoa wrote

Thank you! It was super satisfying, even not being my own car. But in my own car hunt, I happened to buy a 2007 Highlander, so I gained some useful knowledge (in case I ever get caught in a biblical hail storm or hit a deer).


Ghulam_Jewel t1_j3tzjuh wrote

Amazing work what a difference it made.


kittyinasweater t1_j3u4dyq wrote

I'm late to the party but I wanted to throw my two cents in. Op you did an amazing job!!! I just want to throw this out there for anyone who might be thinking about attempting something similar. If you have a common car, like Honda or Toyota, Amazon sells exterior body parts like bumpers and headlights and fender liners. They usually have most color options available. I say this from experience, having not only helped repair customers vehicles at my old shop but my own vehicle as well after an accident. We searched junkyards far and wide but apparently everyone else with a Camry got into the same accident. So we bit the bullet and bought the shit we couldn't find on Amazon. Worked out really well for us and saved a metric fuck ton of money doing it that way.


toodleroo OP t1_j3ubp30 wrote

Thank you! I'll append a little warning to your good advice: Amazon doesn't always have the best deal, the fastest shipping, or the best products.

Getting the headlights for this car was actually something of a fiasco, because I bought them first on Amazon. They were "Used – Like New" Dorman headlights, a more premium aftermarket brand. The shipped from Amazon separately, and when the passenger's side headlight arrived, it was completely broken. The guts of the headlight had been busted off under the glass and there was no way to fix it. There was also evidence that someone had tried to fix it, and the previous customer's return slip was still in the box. Amazon never opened it to check the actual condition.

I was in a time crunch and was worried that the other headlight would arrive in similar shape, so I bought a second pair on They were no-name brand, not Dorman, but they were much cheaper and arrived via Fedex in two days. Surprise surprise, when I compared them to the "Dorman" headlights I'd paid a premium for, it was the exact same product right down to the numbers molded into the plastic casing.

So, make sure to look at other websites, which are making efforts to be competitive with Amazon.,, or even ebay.


Bayoumi t1_j3tdvzg wrote

Nice work! It looks so much better! But i always wonder why one would drive a car like that in the first place. That should not pass any regular safety tests whatsoever with the blond headlights and a damaged frame. In Germany our cars have to pass several tests every two years. Blind headlights? You're out. Damaged frame? You're out. Leaking oil? You're out. Worn brakes? You're out. List can go on days.


boinger t1_j3tjl6r wrote

Honestly, in America, you can drive whatever piece of shit you want. In a few (very few) places you can get refused registration for emissions/pollution stuff, but if you're borderline you can cheat that system, too.

It can be frightening knowing what's on the road over here. Check out /r/Justrolledintotheshop


kittyinasweater t1_j3u3jsx wrote

There's some exceptions, they try a little bit. For example, if you stop driving a car and don't want to pay registration on it anymore, you can put it in non-op with the DMV. When you start driving the car again, you have to pass a safety brake and lamp inspection where they basically check the bare minimum (brakes and lights) to make sure the car is good to go. Then you just pay your fees and you're on your way.

Side note: We had a girl drive her Ford Edge into the shop (almost literally) because her brakes weren't working properly. The brake booster diaphragm had a hole in it so when she pressed the pedal, it went all the way to the floor and the car kept rolling and would eventually stop. She couldn't afford the repair right away (it was like $800+) and she had to drive the car off the lot and we had to have her sign a waiver since we looked at it and knew it wasn't safe. The car was like a 2010? So it's not just the ones that look like shit boxes that you have to worry about!


cursethedarkness t1_j3ufam2 wrote

In OP’s case, it belongs to his 70 year old aunt, who is likely retired on a fixed income and can’t afford a $40k new car. In the US, there are very few places were you can easily get along without a car, so if you have a low income, you drive what you can afford. My mom drives a 2005 Toyota that she’ll probably drive for the next 10-15 years.


Bayoumi t1_j3v99l9 wrote

I know about all of that. But some cars I hear, see and read about are just a gun waiting to go off.