So, a funny thing keeps happening to our car (ok, it's only happened twice, but it seems like it's a weird problem that shouldn't even have happened once!).
Twice now, when it's rained and then turned cold, the gas tank cover thingy has frozen shut. Not knowing it was frozen we've pushed the level to open it hard enough to break the cable. Which means the gas tank doesn't open at all. The time I did it (2 years ago), I was driving back from New Haven to Andover, MA, and had gotten exactly half way. I'd filled up right before I left Andover a couple of days before. In theory, one tank of gas is enough to drive the 300-mile round trip, but we'd also driven around a little bit in New Haven. I wasn't sure how much, exactly, so the rest of the drive to Andover was a bit suspenseful. Would I make it? Would I run out of gas on 495? A few blocks from my house? My plan was to drive till the fuel light came on, then look for a gas station/repair shop, so I'd be as close to home as possible when I got stuck.
I made it home, and then to the repair shop, where they explained what had happened and replaced the cable. (By the way, the thing to do in this circumstance is hit the tank cover sharply before you try to use the release lever, to knock ice loose.)
Monday, when Kevin did it, he was at a gas station in town, so there wasn't any chance of getting stuck on the highway. But it was still irritating. I hadn't thought to warn him, so he too kept pushing the reluctant lever till the cable broke. He called, I explained what had happened, and he drove home (in suspense, because we'd put off filling the tank, as usual).
This time though, the internets saved us. It turns out you can reach under the trunk lining, then between the inside and outside layers of the trunk wall, to pull out the latch and release the door by hand. It's not the fastest process, but it did let us fill the tank--and put off getting it fixed till this weekend.
What I've been trying to figure out is whether there's a way to use the old cable (still mostly in place) to pull the new cable through--it needs to get around the doors, then attach to the underside of the lever. I think the repair shop takes off the trim around the doors to get to it, but it sure would be nice if there was a do-it-yourself way. I like to imagine I'm handy, based almost entirely on the time I made a coat hook out of a paper clip, tape and string (and hung it on the wall without making any holes or ruining the wallpaper with tape), and the time I fixed a toaster with just a pocket knife. I'm optimistic that these achievements indicate a hidden talent for car repair, but Kevin is not so convinced.