Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cars: the necessary evil

Ever have one of those days? Yeah, I'm having one of those months. The weather is changing. For the first time in forever I needed to address the weather and my car. My tires were, um, bald. Not receeding, or wearing out, but treadless. Fortunately, we'd been saving and we bought four very expensive tires for my "free" car. Not that we're snobby about tires, only that my car is huge and therefore requires huge, expensive tires. Cha-ching.

On our trip up the mountain to move out to this snow laden state, our check engine light came on. Hmph. Our battery light had already been on, for about a month while we were back home. We had a few people check it out with no explanation. Well, I have my own explanation: It's a FORD! An evil Ford. Anyway, we made it up and over the Continental Divide without problem and after we'd settled a bit in our home I decided it was probably time to figure out why the engine light was still on.

Mistake #1. We took it to a Ford dealership. My superior thinking was that they'd be able to figure everything out, including why the battery light was on for no apparent reason. After about 8 hours of our car in their care we decided to give them a call. "Oh yeah, we were just about to call you." Rrrright. After going over everything that was apparently wrong with our free car, they wanted $2800.00 to fix it. *blink blink* Um. No. We decided to just pay for them to do the oil change. Our bill? $136.00. Again with the blinking. Apparently, there was a $100 diagnostic fee they forgot to tell us about. To their credit, after we looked at the guy with the deer in the headlights look and explained that we weren't told about the fee, he took it off. Still, $36 for an oil change? Rip off!!

Then the snow came. We had a blizzard. In October. The car sat in the garage for three days while we were all housebound. No work, no school, no nuthin'.

On Bill's first day back at work, he took my car. My car decided it was sick. I know it caught swine flu while sitting in that filthy Ford dealership. Now the check engine light was not only on, it was blinking. Blinking light = REALLY bad!!

Mistake #2: Took the car back to the dealership and asked why they broke our car. Did they take responsibility for it all of a sudden not working. Pshaw. Of course not. I mean, it was fine before they had it, not after they had it, obviously they didn't do anything wrong. This is where I realize that they see a California license plate and the fact that it's a big SUV and assume we have money. Ha! Jokes on them. We're military. We don't have any money!! Husband is beyond mad and threatening to write to everyone just short of the White House to complain. I calmly walk him back to the car, petting him to keep him calm.

We take it somewhere else. Somewhere that a friend recommended. A bunch of money later and 8 replaced boots or shoes or some sort of footware on the cylinders and all new spark plugs, we drive away. Battery light is still on. But the engine light is off. And at least it can get above 45mph.

After a week of searching the internet and youtube and reading manuals, my not-mechanic turned mechanic hubby replaces the alternator AND the brake booster. Did you know brakes had boosters? Me either. Oh, and did you know that evil Ford makes their alternators so that you can't just take them down to the local auto store to have them tested? They need special equipment? Oh and did you know that if you wanted to actually fix something on a Ford in a time less than a weekend, you need special Ford tools?? Yeah, don't EVER buy a Ford. I just kept telling myself that it was free and I haven't had a car payment in three years. Maybe I was chanting it, I can't remember. I think I may have lit a candle, and I'm not even Catholic.

Mistake #3: We go to the gas station. It was then that my hubby and I realized that the lowest grade of gas, which we've been putting in our car since we got it, is NOT 87 in Colorado like it is back in California. It's 85. 85? Really? I thought the lowest grade was standard across the board? For three months we've been putting in 85, not even thinking that it wasn't our usual 87. Um...did we break our car? Why was it ok up until the point that the dealership had it? Dangit!! Why didn't the welcome package warn us about gasoline?! This place has crazy blizzards in October and lower grade gas? Where are we?!

Thankfully we've learned that with a little confidence, my husband can fix my car (there was no other option) and we should be able to hang on to it until Trey is driving it to school in eight years. That is, unless we keep putting the wrong gas in it.

Oh, and the battery light is still on.

1 comment:

Judy said...

Wow - 85 octane? I'm pretty sure ours are 87, 89 and 91. Wow.

Ford isn't the only ones like 1997 Buick LeSabre is sucking us dry (even as we speak - BACK at the repair shop tonight) mainly because everything requires a specialized tool to fix it...the freaking car is 13 years old! Puh-lease!