Thursday, October 02, 2008

Automotive Woes

I feel like I have Munchausen's By Proxy, Automotive Variant. One of our cars is back at the shop for more of the same symptoms. Poor Larry (our service guy). I think he never wants to hear from me again.

The history
A while back, my husband noticed that the car he usually drives was not behaving well. It wanted to stall when coming to a stop or when starting from a stop. We went to our local Ford place and they diagnosed some bad sensors and some tune-up kind of stuff. When we got it back, it seemed to run a little peppier than it had, but was still stalling when we tried to put it in gear. Price of the first repair: around $840.

Back to the Ford dealership. Larry phoned with the news that it's probably transmission related, probably the torque converter. They needed to pull the transmission to really know for sure, and then, either way, it would be ready to work on. Larry had spoken with the service manager and they credited the $800+ dollars from our earlier repair to that new repair. Now Larry was my hero because I never had to ask for this consideration. He also got us a sweet little "no-cost rental" (I do love a bureaucratic oxymoron) for the week we were without our car. Our cost (after credit) of repair #2: around $1000.

But, the car still stalled. The symptom had changed a bit. Now it stalled only when fully warmed up and coming to a stop. Still, this was not good. Then, Monday morning, I drove the Little Emperor to school in that car. After I dropped him and was starting home, the brakes went to the floor. Yes, the car stopped. But I thought for a scary moment or two it might not. Got back the 4 blocks home, driving oh so very carefully, and called my buddy Larry again. Now, I think he really really really did not want to hear from me again. I arrange a tow for the car to the dealership. Larry tells me that the brake line has corroded. No real surprise. This is a 1997 Ford Windstar and we live in slush and salt city 5 months of the year. $340 to fix that before they can safely do the test drive to find out the issue with the stalling. Well, I still think we've come this far, so may as well keep trying to keep this vehicle on the road another couple years.

Larry got back to me yesterday and told me it's a valve in the valve body, part of the transmission, which is sticking when it's warmed up. And he told me that if they had realized that when they had the transmission all apart last time, they would have done that at the same time. So, in view of that, they'll do the labor for free on this one. Well, that was the good news. The bad news is the part (valve body) costs $895. And they have to order it. And we'll be without the car for a while.

Larry asked me if we needed another "no cost rental" car this time. I told him No, now that my husband's out of work, we really can get by with one. Just to really pile on my serving of Woe Cake. (If you don't know what Woe Cake is, you haven't been lurking on the Ravelry Rubberneckers.)

So yeah, Mr. SABLE's first day of unemployment, yesterday, went much better than his last few days of employment did. But he's muttering about going to art school and moving to northern Maine to pursue a career making art glass. I guess I can herd sheep and we'll eat stone soup I'll cook on a woodstove. Now I'm being a bit snide. After all, when you've given half your soul to a soul-sucking corporation for 12 years and been tossed out like yesterday's newspaper in the recycling, it's normal to fantasize about a very different lifestyle. Oh, and yesterday? He got his first e-mail from someone trying to make sense of the mess that sacking a whole department leaves behind, asking for help with a big project. Mr. SABLE told him that he can't help, doesn't have any of those files, and the poor successor should check with the Pointy Haired Boss if he has any more questions. I expect this won't be the last desperate email he'll get from folks over there.


Molly Bee said...

Oooeee! Lots of bad juju at your house these days! Glad Mr. S is out of the ruckus and has a chance to start over. If he does decide to do the Maine thing, let me know. I can pump a mean pair of bellows! Let me know if you need a ride anywhere-carting kids, errands, knitting. Just call!

YarnThrower said...

Our car symptoms are quite similar. Stalls when stopped, or when starting to drive again. Also, sometimes around a corner when I am "coasting," so I believe it to be an idling problem. Garage said the central computer. Worked great for three days after changing that out; now back to original symptoms -- truly an intermittent problem, though unruffling and disruptive during the times it is manifesting itself by conking out half a dozen times within three blocks. One difference -- ours seems to be worse "cold" rather than "hot"... Let me know what you figure out. Ours is going back to the dealer tomorrow, with the hope that this is still covered under the "powertrain" 7-year 100,000 mile warranty.

I hope things look up for your husband. I'm sure that is stressful for all of you. Glad he's not helping out his successor -- not to be spiteful or anything, but he owes them nothing.

Emily said...

Sorry to hear about the rough transition for Mr SABLE. I hope that things start falling into place soon, whether they be in the art-glass field or elsewhere.
I will confirm that it's pretty satisfying to respond to that kind of post-sacking desparate email, though.
Also, best wishes to your ailing car, that sucks.

Bezzie said...

Dr. Mad Scientist's car does that too and we've suspected the transmission. We're waiting for March when they've got to inspect the car for Registration anyway--they said to diagnose it would be expensive. Oh hooray. Here's the trick we use--when you come to a stop toss it in neutral (I'm assuming your car is an automatic like ours..?) It's a PITA to do at first but you get used to it. You really have to pay attention to driving--it shocked me driving it like that for the first time and how auto-pilot I am driving my car!

As for the job front--well he could always go back to school to teach high schoolers if the Machine has him burnt out ;-). Hee hee!

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess the job cut puts the car mess into perspective!

Mr. S is right to be a non-participant in actions to put the pieces back together. His energy needs to go into 1) getting over the shock and anger 2) moving on and finding a new employer.

And you my dear, will continue to be the glue holding it together!

Lynn said...

Cars, jobs, the world mess in general - no wonder all we want to do is knit. Hang in there!

Cindy G said...

Gaaaaak! e-mailing a laid-off employee for help. How low can you go? All corporations are soul sucking (been there, done that).

Leslie said...

Oh, bad on top of more bad. I'm so sorry to hear about all the car troubles. We drive old cars, too, and I know what that's like. You're lucky to have such a great mechanic who will give you credit when they make an incorrect diagnosis. As for your husband's job, well, that just sucks! It's so common these days for the loyal employees to get pushed aside for the new (cheaper) ones. I hope the perfect job comes along soon!

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

Eeesh on the car. I hope that once you get the stalling fixed, your main troubles will be with things rusting out on it. Way cheaper than a car payment, right? If you move to Maine, I want to come, too. Good luck to the Sables on all fronts. At least you've got enough yarn.