Friday, June 06, 2008

CARJACKED BY MY OWN CAR...
I guess that's what I get for griping about gas prices...

Right now, it turns out, Rising Gas Prices are not my biggest concern. I mean, they were until today...welcome, my friends, to the show that never ends...the automotive merry-go-'round. I used to regularly fall victim to the bottomless pit of the automotive service system until several years ago when I finally bought a pretty-good car. And I've babied my Dodge Intrepid. It had 37,000 miles when I got it in 2001, and doesn't even have 75,000 on it some 6 and a half years later. But...I've also heard that the 75,000 mile mark is when to expect things to Start Going Wrong. And boy, did they ever. I'm still reeling from the impact. Bring back the days when all I was worried about was $4.25-per-gallon gas...

It all started yesterday when I went out for a drive...something within my dashboard emitted a faint "Beeeep!", and when I looked down at the speedometer, the little red BATTERY light came on. Uh-oh! As far as I know, my car has never had a new battery installed; in short, I've driven 7 years on One Battery. Now, there've been a couple of times lately when I'd start my car and it was "sluggish"...not starting up right away, but it did start. This time around, the windshield wipers were creeeeping slowly across my windshield, and I thot, "well, maybe I need a NEW BATTERY". I've had car batteries die on me before, after all. So I went to the home of "Sudden Service" and a new battery I did purchase. And install it they did. And, on the way home, on came the battery light AGAIN.

Then, 'KLUNK!' went the transmission, and all of a sudden my car was stuck in either 1st or 2nd gear. And the speedometer stopped working, and I'm surprised all the tires didn't fall off, leaving me stranded in the middle of the road. My Car Was Beginning To Do Itself In. Ack. On the route I was driving, I knew I'd be going past a Dodge/Chrysler service center, and there I did go. I left it there overnight, and the next morning, they said they'd fixed all the "sensors" or "computer chips" or "hidden automotive gremlins" (all automotive gobbledygook terms to me). The Speedometer worked once again, and the tranny was behaving normally. So I left, proceeded to drive my car to another part of town, and further down the road (and $138 poorer), the BATTERY LIGHT came ON again. Huh? What?

So I returned again to the home of "Sudden Service" where I'd bought the battery the day before, and, warranty in hand, I did enter, sauntering up to the counter and telling the very patient cashier lady that I thot the battery I'd bought was "bad". And so I did wait, reading uninteresting magazines in the waiting area, until the Tire Service Person tcame up and told me, "well, we checked out the battery, and it seems to be good, but you probably need a new ALTERNATOR." And I thought, "oh no. I have entered the realm of mysterious undefinable automotive electrical issues", which is sorta like paddling a canoe inside the Bermuda Triangle. Beware! Anyway, I was given the name of an independent Automotive Place which I was told had cheaper shop rates than the Chrysler dealership, and well, since Saving Money is a Pretty Good Idea, to the independent Automotive Place I did go. Ever had the feeling that Your Day Is Turning Out to be One of Those Days? This day was fast feeling like one o' them...

I arrived at the independent Automotive Place and described my problem, and I've gotta give 'em credit for successfully concealing the fact that they were probably licking their chops. Sure enough, after they "diagnosted" my car, I was told, "well, yer alternator works some of the time, and not at other times". So, call around they did, and an alternator they did find. But...said alternator's gotta be shipped down from PORTLAND, about 250 miles north of me. But, they gave me some good news; they found me a REAL DEAL..."we thought we were gonna need $500 for parts and labor, but it turns out it's only gonna cost you $400." Obviously, that makes me feel better, but not much. Almost half of that is labor, I guess. In today's automobiles, there's not quite half a centimeter of space between engine and Remainder Of Front Chassis...so, basically, removing an old alternator and replacing it is about as graceful an activity as a Dentist trying to pull out a crooked Wisdom Tooth using a pneumatic hammering device 'cos he can't get his pliers to grip. Ouch...

My car is back at home for now. Sheeesh. To insure that I was able to get here, they super-charged-up my new battery, told me not to drive too far, or with a lot of electrical things going on...no heater, no lights, etc...and with any luck at all, there'd be enough 'juice' left in the battery so I won't get stranded when I head back Monday for the Alternator Operation. (Just my luck I'd run into time-and-electricity-consuming road construction delays) Evidently, I've got electricity coming Out Of Battery, but not Going Back In sometimes, depending on If Alternator Decides It Wants To Perform At All Or Not. Gosh. This is painful. But, just like my colonoscopy, which HAD to be done 'cos I'm over 50, after all, my car is Finally Needing New Parts, since it's closing in on the 75,000 mark. I'll be really glad to get all of this done. And what am I gonna do with the $100 I saved on my Alternator-related expenses? I'll buy a few gallons of gas with it. Whoopee...
____________________

I keep telling people this, but now I've got to try to make myself believe it: "Once you've accepted that Money Is Not Meant To Hang On To, you won't feel so bad about spending it." That can be my Delusion For The Day...

2 Comments:

Blogger MarmiteToasty said...

Get rid of the car and get yaself a pony and trap :)

I had to let Cyril (me Renault Espace) go almost a couple of years ago, the prvious year he had cost me over $5,000 to keep him running in repairs..... he was buggered, he was knackered and it was time to lay the poor sod to rest...... the car Toyota Previa that I have now aint never let me down.... and I love him.... he has sat out the front of me house for 7 weeks.... and I started him up during the week and he started first time.... I finks its time I took him out for a change of scenery... he must be as bored as me lol........

fanks you for you kind words..... they have meant so very much......

x

9:44 AM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

Ms. Toasty, you are a sheer delight always, and I can't think of enough kind words to toss your way.

I don't know anything about your Toyota...usually, a car can go about 75,000 miles before any problems are encountered. My car just hit 73,000 miles.

I don't know if your odometer displays 'miles' or 'km's', but you might file that away somewhere. And maybe the human knee works that way, too? I'm 54, with two arthritic knees myself.

Cheerio, dear...

2:32 AM  

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