Friday, June 19, 2009

a tale of two three transmissions

it was the best of times, it was the worst of times....

i believe i last left off a week and a half ago, after my 3 hour commute home, which involved several phone calls, a blinking battery bar on my cell phone, and a tow truck with two guys in of whom declined my offer to answer his phone (as it rang for about the twelfth time) and tell his wife "we'll be done in about ten more minutes".

oh, and my car tried to pick up a smoking habit which, as it turns out, i incorrectly credited to my clutch.

a disclaimer before i continue:

terminology in this post may be a little off at times...especially the technical stuff. while i am admittedly a little bit of a tomboy, my knowledge of car maintenance is limited to knowing where the gas goes, how to check the oil, and firsthand knowledge of what might be wrong if the car won't start. (in my case, it involved a loose wire attached to the battery. however, i didn't figure that out until after employing both a screwdriver and a pair of pliers to scrape the contacts. oh- and i think i might've needed to smack something in that general area with the handle of the screwdriver, too.)

anyway, as i write this, my chariot is still in pieces at the repair shop. yes, still.

monday the 8th: car is jiggled off the tow truck and into the parking lot. (scroll down to the last post for details)

tuesday the 9th: my fears are confirmed. the clutch is toast. replacing it will cost about $1585. while the car is torn apart like a feather pillow left unattended with a new puppy, they'll check my transmission, too.

tuesday the 19th, phone call #2: that smoke and burning smell? that wasn't the clutch. it was the transmission. we're now looking at over $2500 to fix my 7 1/2 year old car. i believe an expletive came out of my mouth at roughly this point, though it was not the big one. (i am still quite proud of my restraint.) i tell them i need to gather my thoughts and call them back later.

tuesday evening: up until after midnight, looking at new cars. after drooling for way too long over a highly impractical car out of my price rance (mazda rx-8), settle on a toyota corolla with the sports package. oh- and since they don't make cars without power windows/door locks any more decide i'll put up with those options and console myself by getting the moonroof i've always wanted.

wednesday the 10th: after spending a couple of midday hours debating whether to buy a new car, or borrow my dad's miata, settle on fixing my chariot. after all, it's only got 146,000 miles on it, and at 7 1/2 years, it's too young to die. besides, i can't afford the payments on anything but a low-end kia or a beat up el camino...and if i'm going to have a car for ten years, it really should be something i can stand.

i'm told the repairs (clutch, transmission, and timing belt*), which now total about $3250, should be done by monday afternoon at the latest.

friday the 12th: learn i can borrow my "adoptive" parents' spare car next week, while they're out of town. debate whether or not to take them up on their offer, since i'd only need the car for a day.

sunday the 14th (technically, monday the 15th): after getting off work at midnight, pick up SO and retrieve borrowed wheels.

monday the 15th: no call telling me my car is done.

tueday the 16th: call to check on car. am told that replacement transmission #1 went in ok...until the mechanic tried to hook up the cv axle. apparently, there wasn't a place to put it. (since i have no clue what a cv axle is, the mental picture that forms is from the old oregon trail computer game- the part where your axle breaks and one screen later, you learn you have dysentary.) am told transmission #2 should be in wednesday and my car should be done on thursday.

thursday the 18th: call to check on car. am told the mechanic has put in the transmission and is about to "burn" the clutch. am a little perplexed. after all, that sounds a lot like what made my car's willingness to shift gears cease in the first place.

today: as i'm picking up the home phone to call and check on my car, i hear my cell phone beep its "hey- you just missed a call" beep. when i call back, the apologies are profuse. am told there's news, but it's not as good as one might hope.

"ok- what's going to go "sproing" next?"

am relieved to learn that there aren't any new surprises. however, car still is not inclined to move. it seems transmission #2 went in, the cv axle went on, the clutch was blown (which sounds better than the "burn" i'd remembered, but not by much), and...... the car won't go into gear. now, as i'd established with xavier in my last post, when one has a manual transmission, being unable to get into gear is kind of problematic.

transmission #3 should be in tomorrow, and hopefully, i will be out of the borrowed suv and back into my little green zx2 by 4pm. in the event that #3 is also a dud, transmission #4 is also en route from a different supplier. with any luck, i will not need it.

i was told today that "this thing happens every now and again". i pointed out that i seem to have the "again" part covered. (apparently, my car is now sitting in its bay, with the three transmissions (the original, plus the two attempted replacements) laying near it, like discarded bones after a barbecue.)

i think the poor guy figured i'd bite his head off for having my car for so long. were i more like my parents, he probably would have a new anal orifice. however, since i'm not having to walk or blow money i don't have on a rental car, i'm still able to laugh about it.....besides, as i told him, "this is simply providing more material for a new post on my blog."

*because, i have recently learned, timing belts are supposed to pack it in waaaaay before 146,000 miles.

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