awfulhorrid: (Default)
It followed me home. We're still determining if we can keep it or not.

Open the garage bay door, Fred )

What now?

Mar. 25th, 2011 01:44 pm
awfulhorrid: (Default)
This morning my old Saturn was pronounced officially dead. Oh, it starts and I can probably drive it to the junkyard, but it's no longer fit for even short-range transportation. In the past few months I've been getting small warnings that it wasn't going to last much longer—the periodic OBDII warning light, issues with shifting, losing oil and coolant ... lots of smaller issues pointing to a single undeniable conclusion: it's a 16 year old car with over 300,000 miles on it. Really, there's only so much you can do to prolong the inevitable with that.

On the way home from school last night, the transmission suddenly shifted into low gear and just stayed there. I've had this happen a few times and usually if I shut it down and wait a few seconds the problem clears up. (Rebooting works in an amazing number of devices these days; who knew?) This time was different. As I pulled off the road the oil warning light came on and the engine shut down even before I could stop. When I hit the ignition it started right back up, but now there was a cyclic whirring sound from the engine and the oil light kept flickering on and off. I knew there was a gas station a few miles down the road, so I continued carefully onwards and stopped there. It was closed, but there was a Walgreens across the street and at least I was off the street and in a well-lit location.

Upon checking, I discovered the oil wasn't even hitting the dipstick. I could see a sheen of oil on the accessory belts and a spray of oil across the underside of the hood. For those less than automotively inclined, these are not good signs. The dark oil oozing from the front of the engine said the words 'head gasket' to me which is bad, but I knew I'd at least be able to get home. I called [ profile] bookwurm to let her know what had happened then purchased three quarts of oil from Walgreens. That put the oil level back to normal and reduced the engine noise back to merely concerning rather than immediately alarming. It was a little nerve-wracking trip. I could hear the oil-soaked belt slipping every time I had to slow down (and the alternator output decreased, of course.) I drove to the garage near our home and filled out the drop-off form. The mechanic called me this morning and gave me the news.

I'm really not sure how we're going to swing a replacement vehicle. The balance seems to be between payments to a dealership -- which means a higher overall cost, but probably a more reliable car and more options for recourse if something is wrong with it -- and trying to find an individual seller with a one-time payment in our range. That way seems almost certainly to be buying someone else's problems. My mechanic has said if we do that then we should bring the car by his garage first and he'll check it out for free. Apparently there's a firm benefit to being regular customers. I'm leaning heavily towards going through a dealership, though. We can figure something out for the monthly payments, although the down payment, tax, title, and other costs remain a concern.

awfulhorrid: (College Dog)
My GPA for the first quarter was 4.0. I intend to keep that up, but this is a bad way to start.

Today was supposed to be the start of my second quarter at ITT. I had perfect attendance for the last quarter, but I broke that today due to car trouble. I got about 2/3 of the way to school when the speedometer stopped working ... which was weird, but I could just watch the GPS and get my speed from there. About a minute later, the tachometer started fluctuating and also stopped working, followed by the radio and the windows. By this point, I was coasting to a stop at an intersection. I put it in park and tried the ignition, but it was completely dead. I got out and pushed it over to the side of the road. I checked the lights (none), the battery connection, and then gave up and called AAA, my instructor, the school, and [ profile] bookwurm in that order.

I had the tow truck drop the car and me off at Bristol Tire & Service, about two miles from home. They were able to fix my water pump a few months ago on the day I brought it in, so I'm hopeful that they'll be able to fix an alternator with a similar speed. This is, of course, assuming it's not something like the ECM Computer. Augh. At least the instructor knows me since I had him for the last quarter and knows that I'm not BSing him about this. He's leaving the worksheets and handouts in main building for me and I'll be able to pick it up tomorrow, but there's no way I can get the participation grade made up.
awfulhorrid: (Default)
Let me start out by saying that I'm fine. I wasn't hurt, although I am starting to feel a bit sore, so I suspect that I might have strained myself a bit. There was actually very little damage to my car except I knocked the front bumper off on the right hand side. (And the tow truck driver snugged that back into place well enough for now, although I might stop at my mechanic this week to have it reattached with a bit more finesse.)

Oh right ... I haven't actually said what happened. I had a car crash on the way home from work. There's really not much to tell about the accident itself. I was fairly close to home, heading West on 128th. There were 'bursts' of snow blowing across the road from time to time and with that in mind, I had already dropped my speed a bit. There were also spotty patches of snow and black ice on the road. Somewhere along there, I hit one of those, went slightly off the road on the right hand side ... and must have hit a grove in the ice or something, because suddenly it was like something had grabbed the wheel ... I had no control at all and felt the spin start knowing there wasn't really much I could do at that point except hang on to the wheel and hope I hit something soft. As it turns out, that's pretty much exactly what I did. (Thank the Gods there wasn't an on coming car in the lane.)

I stopped in the upslope of the ditch on the opposite side of the road from where I started, facing back the way I had come and pretty solidly stuck. (There was no way I could just drive out of that, particularly since my wheels were getting no traction at all.) Immediate accessement: I'm alive and unhurt ... I didn't even break any windows and the car was still running. I calmly turned off my MP3 player and the car -- in that order. Then flicked on my emergency flashers and dug out my cell phone and my AAA card from my wallet, taking the time to hit the "Where Am I?" emergency icon on my TomTom so I could give my specific location to the agent. Frankly, the phone and the AAA card paid for themselves tonight. I can't say that I enjoyed being in an accident, but it was great to be able to call for help and know that I wouldn't be sitting there wondering how the Hell I was going to pay for the tow while waiting for help.

In the meantime, several people stopped to make sure I was alright, including two local cops, the last of which stopped on the edge of the road and ran his flasher until the tow truck arrived. He did take my information and a statement of what happened, but since no one else was involved and I wasn't hurt, it really wasn't any big deal. After the AAA call, I left a message on our home voice mail so [ profile] bookwurm would know where I was. It turns out she saw the accident when she went by, but couldn't see the car well enough to know it was me. I saw her when she went by, but since I was neither driving nor watching out for the police car with the flashing lights at the time, I suspect I was in a better position to see her than she was to see me. From there, I mostly sat in my car and read until the truck arrived, pulled me out and delivered me to a 'safe location' (i.e., get me off the side of the road and make sure the car is OK to drive) which turned out to the TA Truck Stop near the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Go figure!

The only complication was in the time I sat there with the emergency flasher running, the battery had drained a bit, necessitating a jump by the tow truck driver and his handy portable jumper pack. This cleared my radio stations and caused the tape adapter to get stuck in the slot. I couldn't properly free it until I got home, so I actually had to listen to the radio for 10 minutes or so while I drove home, slower and a bit more nervous than I had a few hours earlier.

So ... as I said, I'm fine and the car isn't damaged in any serious way. I have to laugh at being able to pop the bumper back on like that. Sheesh, the car really is made out of plastic!

I promise the next post will be about happier news ... something about cuddly cats, perhaps?

February 2013



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