On the Road Again

2014-07-30 08.14.59

The title of this post would suggest that I’m off on a road trip somewhere. Though the reality is a little more mundane, it is no less exciting to me. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may have seen my complaints about being without a car for the past few weeks as my car has been in the shop. My poor little car, which had been sickly since the first week of June, was finally returned to me last night, practically as good as new. I am ecstatic!

The saga of my car goes back beyond June, way back to spring of last year. I noticed a miss in the engine. Sometimes, when I pushed on the gas, it seemed to take a while for the engine to respond, and I could hear the miss when the engine was idling. I was afraid it was something very serious and very expensive to repair. I didn’t have the money for car repairs, so I kept driving it, just waiting for it to decide not to go any further. A friend diagnosed it as a bad fuel injector in the sixth cylinder, and I hoped and prayed that was all it was, since it wouldn’t be nearly as expensive to repair as something like a blown head gasket.

So, I drove the car for over a year with the miss getting worse and worse until the car was rattling all over because of it. In March of this year, the car stopped right in the middle of the road, just two miles from home, at the end of a 300-mile trip. I was so thankful it waited until we were close to home before dying on me. The diagnosis at that time was a corroded battery cable and a bad clutch, in addition to the miss. After a week in the shop, the car was driving much better, except for the miss, which still needed to be addressed, but which I still didn’t have the funds to have repaired.

In June, while Sam and I were in Atlanta, the clutch started feeling stiff, and sometimes when I had it pushed down, the transmission still wouldn’t go in or out of gear. I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it back home! When we got home, I kept the car parked as much as possible until I could get it back in the shop. Unfortunately, the clutch that was put in earlier this year was defective. (It was an after-market clutch because, apparently, Ford no longer supplies the clutch for my car since it is 15 years old now.) They said when they took it off, it broke into several pieces. Actually, they said it “exploded” into several pieces. When they took it back to the parts store, they were able to have it replaced free of charge because it was still in the 90-day warranty period…by ONE day! Since the part was obviously defective, they talked to the store manager about covering the cost of labor and the other parts that had to be replaced because they had been damaged by the bad clutch. The manager said that in order to cover all the costs, the part would have to be sent to their headquarters and put through extensive testing, and it would take 12-14 weeks to receive a check. I couldn’t wait that long to have my car fixed, and I couldn’t pay all the costs up front and get reimbursed that far down the road, so I opted to accept a check from the parts store for about 65% of the labor costs. It was better than nothing!

When the mechanics got the clutch replaced, they said they wouldn’t guarantee their work if my car went out of their shop with that bad miss not repaired. They explained that the rattling from the miss could tear up a good clutch, and it probably caused the defective clutch to go out sooner. (It was a good thing in the case of the bad clutch since it would not have still been under warranty just two days later.) So, my car was held hostage until I could come up with the money to get the additional work done. It ended up not being as expensive as I had feared, and now my baby is almost as good as new. Now, when Sam and I hit the road again, I won’t have to worry as much about whether we’ll be able to make it back home or not.

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