Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Return of the Beastmobile? AUGRH!!!

Ladies and gents, life is on hold. Strict, strict budget for things like entertainment and eating out. No travel. Maybe getting rid of the cell phone. And you KNOW things are bad when there will be no dancing lessons, either. Commence crying now.

My car has fallen under the curse. The evil, evil curse of the Beastmoblie. Those of you who have been reading this blog for over two years have read the posts about my old car. There were scores of them. This post is the best introduction, and one of my finer song re-works. When the Beastmobile (aka a 1989 Olds Cutlas) finally bit it in November of 2005 (thanks to a dear sir who felt that he didn't really feel like stopping for a red light), it was joyfully replaced by a beauteous issue-free 1994 Civic with a piddly 94,114 km on it. 59,480 miles, for you Americans out there. :) And it's been glorious. Only the routine oil changes and a scheduled timing belt replacement at about 100,000 km.

Until now.

Last winter my trunk began leaking. So much so that when I braked, you could hear it sloshing around. Off I went to my parent's house so that we could drain it and run a space heater in it to dry it out while it sat dry and toasty in the carport (I only have street parking). It was a few months till I could get it into the body shop to have the leak fixed, but eventually I did, and voila! No more leak!

This summer, though, my car began to overheat, so I took it in. It needed a water pump. Ok, fine, that's expected. I got that fixed and a few other odds and ends and forked over around six hundred and fifty bucks. Oof. Oh well, such is the cost of owning a car.

Of course, having just replaced the water heater in July, one would not expect that the cooling system - including a problematic fan that wasn't an issue last time - would have to be done AGAIN in November. Such was the case, however, when I began to overheat on a long drive out to the valley (which reminds me, I really need to write a few posts...). My mechanic - God bless him - charged me no labour. Still it was five hundred and twenty bucks for parts.

As summer turned to fall and fall faded into winter, the weather got wetter. So did my trunk. Just a bit at first, but come the full-fledged rainy season, it was back to a sloshing pool of rain water in the back of my trunk. Goodie goodie gum drops. Now, having the folding seats that I do, there's a little flap of fabric that rests in the trunk. All the better to soak up the water and bring it into the seats, my dear. This I discovered as I picked friends up for Christmas dinner and they arrived at my parents house with wet a$$es. Classy. All the subsequent driving around I did over the holiday involved folded up towels in the back seat for people to sit on. Double classy.

Over the last week of the holiday, I noticed that my car would chug a little bit when it was idling, and sometimes there was quite a bit of really nasty smeling white exhaust. But only sometimes. Then, last Friday, it chugged so much it felt like I was sitting in a massage chair and as I dropped off my friend Becca, it filled the neighbourhood with noxious smelling white smoky exhaust. I only has about 30 blocks to home, so I tried to make it. The temperature guage was up higher than the red and I was billowing massive clouds of smoke as I went. When steam began to billow out from under the hood, however, I pulled 'er over post haste and walked the remaining fourteen blocks to my house. Of course, not before opening the hood to find that the small amount of water in the overflow resevoir was boiling. So let's recap, shall wee? I had water in my trunk and no water in my engine. You'd think they'd learn to share or something. Geez.

I waited till the next morning and drove it straight to the mechanic to be parked there over the weekend. No chance I was gonna drive around with it ready to blow at any second. Of course, the drive there was without incident. Anyway, there it sat, to be looked at on Monday. Two guy friends of mine both told me - independently of each other - that from what I was describing, it sounded like a blown head gasket. Now I don't know much, but I know that THAT is expensive. Like really a lot. Oh happy fun times of joyousness.

I called to check in with the mechanic after school on Monday (yesterday) and he told me that one of the things that had puzzled him last time was still acting up - the computer that controlled the fan that helped to cool the engine. So he changed that. I asked about the head gasket, and he told me that while all the symptoms pointed to exactly that, he could find no evidence of a blown gasket. No mixed fluid anywhere, nothing on the spark plugs, and he drove it all over the place all day long and never once did it chug or smoke for him. He did everything he could and couldn't make it do what it was doing for me. Typical. He got the other mechanic at the shop to look at it, too, and he couldn't find anything either. He told me that when gaskets blow, they blow, and it's not intermittent, so he was very confused. Head gaskets are a very common fix, but he had never seen this problem before in all his years of working on cars. Goooood. That makes me feel SO much better. Yerg. Ah, but of course! We forgot that we're talking about one of MY cars.

He told me that he really couldn't bring himself to fix something he wasn't convinced was broken, so we'd leave it at the computer and the other tweaks he'd done and see how it fared. He was cautiously optomistic that this was the final fix. So off I went tonight after work to pick it up. And to unload another five hundred and twenty bucks. What are we at now, about $1700 since July? No problemo, I'll just go pick it off the money tree in the back yard... Oh right. I DON'T HAVE ONE.

While I was at the shop, I asked, "Well, just in case this isn't the final fix, how much would a blown head gasket actually cost me?" He told me that under normal circumstances it would be a couple of thousand dollars (CHOKE! COUGH! SPUTTER!), but that he'd have pity on me, and I shouln't worry, it would be painless. But the car is probably fixed now. So home I went with my probably fixed car.

Of course I watched the temperature guage and exhaust like a hawk all the way home. Temperature? Fine. Exhaust? Normal. Chugging? Non-existent. Woohoo!

That is, until about the last 8 or 10 blocks. Was that a cloud of white smoke I saw, or am I just paranoid? And I'm starting to feel that slight chug... or is my mind playing tricks on me? I pulled up to my parking spot and let it idle for a minute.


And there is was. Billowing cloud, chug-a-lugging engine, crying Hillary.

Let's see how much my mechanic's pity is gonna cost me THIS time. Oh yeah, and that trunk leak is still not fixed, either. It's not like THAT can be left alone forever, either. Good thing I just got my Christmas mastercard bill and bought myself a bedroom suite, too. Anyone got some excess wealth they'd like to share?

Frickity frackity flappity FLIP!!!

Pardon me while I go cry now.


SlushTurtle said...

Oh poor Hillary! Car problems are simply too much to be borne. Praying a magic, cheap fix presents itself!!!

Katrina said...

Bless your heart! I so feel your pain. It seems like when things start going wrong with your car, it's one thing after another with increasing frequency, like an avalanche picking up speed. Sorry to hear about your Civic's collapse!

Shansland said...

Oh Man Hillary! I'm so sorry about your car. I wonder why they don't mess up for the mechanic. I recently insisted they keep my van an extra day because it wasn't starting for me but for them-no problem! Cars are like kids...they save they're worst for the ones they love most.
On a separate note, it's so funny that I see you on all my favorite blogs(three of those are people like Slush, Becky, and Ellen whom I know well in person!) Then I think you commented on Welcome to my brain and I thought HUH? She's here at Christines too? So I've read your blog since your Spice girl video and now I sing "People of the world...every boy every girl" when I visit you :D. I don't have a blog but if I ever start one I'll invite you over since your the Canadian part of our small world! I'll say a prayer for your car/$ situation as well. Take care, Shannon

shawna said...

you gotta switch to a bike 8) i did it almost 4 1/2 years ago (of course even though melbourne winters are wet, they're nowhere near as cold/horribly wet as vancouver) and its great (my poor car was like yours and had issue after issue the last year i had it and i was only working part time for very little money-- not fun).
bikes are great-- and most things you can easily fix yourself and if you can't a bike repair bill would never cost more than a couple hundred $ in worst case senario. 8)

nachtwache said...

Despite the sad tale, your way of describing it makes me laugh. I wish I had extra $ to help. There are people out there that have more money than they can possibly use, then there's us working stiffs. :(
I pray the car smartens up! Threaten to junk it. It might scare it straight.

Paul said...

Woah, at this rate a years repairs are going to cost you more than a new car.

I think I may have a $50 or two that I didn't change back this summer, but I don't think I'm supposed to mail them.

anne said...

Isn't that totally how it always goes too? Sorry your car is sucking lately... :( Maybe a money tree will grow soon?

sarah cool said...

Ok. I believe this is God telling you to move from Canadia, land of broken cars, to the USA, land of... Sarah Cool, Anne & Jean. Amen.

Hillary said...

Or maybe YOU need to coem to Canadia and your sheer coolness will cure my car! :)

Abbey said...

OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What an awful time!! How horrible!! I am so very sorry.

I think it might be time for a new car investment!

Some unsolicited advice:) Mazda=cheap and good car. I looove my Mazda 3 and it was a fantastic deal!

Anyhoo...good luck with the car!!