Monday, October 15, 2007

My Automotive Saga

I promised in my last blog that I would fill you in on the fun that is my car. I purchased my little ghetto car, as I like to call it, last August. When I bought it the salesman told me that it would need a new clutch eventually. I bought it anyway (and have regretted it more than once in the last year). Now my little car has taken me a lot of miles. Last October it took me nearly 7,000 miles across the US from Idaho to Tennessee, Kansas to Minnesota and all the states in between. It did fine and never failed me along the way.

What do I regret about my car? That I hastily bought a stick shift. It was a bit of a nostalgic buy. I have had two stick shifts in my past. One I shared with my brother in high school. The second was a little silver VW Rabbit that I took to my freshman year of college. As some of you might remember, it had an untimely demise when it went bumper to bumper with a 1972 Cadillac. I really liked that little car. But it couldn't be revived after that collision. Now, having driven an automatic for nearly 15 years, I have become lazy and get irritated with having to shift and think about driving. This was especially true as my clutch got worse and worse.

One year after I bought my car I decided that it was time to fix that clutch that was looming over my head. I had nightmares that it was going to strand me somewhere. So I took it in to a reputable shop that supports Young Life. A week later and a very large bill... larger than I anticipated, I have to admit... I had my car back in working order. One always tends to just take the hit on a repair like that and then shrug it off knowing that you won't have to spend that kind of money on your car again for sometime. A hasty assumption.

About two weeks later I was excited that my good buddy, Lorrie, was coming to town. I stopped to have the air checked in my tires because they seemed low. They were and the tire shop quickly aired them up. But then my car refused to start. That had never happened before. My car always started. The tire guys were helpful and tried to hook up a battery pack, but it didn't work. I was in a hurry, so remember my stick shift in high school and all my experience with a nearly dead battery for over a month. I asked the guys to push me so I could pop the clutch. The one very nice thing about a clutch. So it started up and I didn't think twice about it. I should have known that it foretold more car fun.
Lorrie and I hung out in Boise for a day. That day I took the time to get the oil changed in my car. Then we loaded up and headed for the mountains. We were excited about exploring. The first morning there we jumped in my car and headed to town to find a tasty breakfast. About 5 miles from our cabin there was an unnerving sound and then the sinking realization that I have a flat tire. This feeling tends to herald a bad day and I have to admit I struggled to have a good attitude for the next few days. So what do two out of town girls do when you are on the side of the road with a flat tire? Call your sister, of course. Misty got me a phone number for the roadside assistance in the area, but also told me to just do it myself. Right... I have seen tires changed before, but have no desire to change one myself. If I was forced to, I am sure I could. But all other avenues had not been explored.

When our handsome rescuer came to change our tire (thanks Lorrie for documenting) it took him almost 20 minutes just to get the donut out of the trunk. It seems water had leaked in and rusted the bolt that held the donut on. He finally got the bolt to move by clamping onto it with his bolt cutters. --side note... see there was no way I would have been able to do that, so it was good that I called in the cavalry first, instead of last-- So the tire finally came off and this is what we found. One tire ruined... fantastic (note the large nail and three holes in the sidewall).
So we drove the 20 minutes to the nearest town with a tire shop. They informed me that because I have all wheel drive and had worn down the tread a certain amount, I had to buy 4 new tires. Talk about pouring salt into the wound. There was no way around it... we even called parents to confirm this suspicious information. Sigh. At this point we had totally missed breakfast and there was nothing to do but have new tires put on my car and go have french fries. Regret number two on hastily buying my car. Never again will I buy an all wheel drive. And you can all hold me to that.

After picking up the car we finally got around to that exploring part of our weekend. It was good for my spirits to get out in the woods and focus on some fall foliage rather than the fact that I had just spent more than half the entire cost of my original purchase in two weeks worth of car related expenses.

But wait, it doesn't end here. On the way home my car started randomly not starting again. I knew I couldn't ignore that. I can ignore funny sounds, but not silence. So back to the shop again. I explained to my mechanic all that had happened, all the funny sounds, and that my car really needed to start. A week later and more money, I had my car back. The crank shaft sensor was going out. Then they explored the other noises and claimed that it was a heat shield that was loose. I smiled and paid the money. But the wierd noise is still there and I can't spend any more money on this saga. So I can live with the noises.

How many ways can you spend money on a car in three weeks time? Clutch $$$$, Oil Change $$, New Tires $$$, Roadside Assistance $$$, Crankshaft sensor and other noises $$$. I just hope I only have to pay for gas for another year.


Joani said...

Oh dear!! I should have warned you before you bought the car. We got to do the 4 new tire dance last summer! We warned Mark's sister and brother-in-law with their Subaru. If only I had had a blog back then....

At least if you go with Les Schwaab you can get replacements at up to 25% wear or credit for the wear you don't use....I think that was the deal!

carrie said...

I went with Les Schwaab. They gave me a whole $15 per tire credit. Not much but it was something.

Anonymous said...

yes - i still think that was a scam (and i'm still asking everyone i can find who has an all-wheel vehicle if it's true) - but we did have some good fries and we did get to see some b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l scenery and got to ponder trees - fantastic trip all around (in my mind, anyway;o) lc

Sodak Girl said...

Wow...that makes our recent Brakes $$$450 + $100 (plus the frustration of 5 trips to the shop to complete the job), Internal (and external) hoses $$$$$$900 seem .... well...either not so bad, or at least like we're not the only ones with bad-car-luck!

At least you have a great camera to document your adventures!
Great writing, too, by the way. Are you sure you shouldn't be publishing something? You need another job, right? ;)


rubyslipperlady said...

Love the pictures!

I hope you can AFFORD gas for the next year. I miss driving something fierce (OK, so what I really miss is the independence that my own vehicle would bring) but I do not miss paying the price of gas over here.

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