27 November 2008

She's off the recipe kick, at least.

American blogs are going to be full of "I'm so thankful for this and that" today, because it is Thanksgiving.  I'm grousing.

Two weeks ago, I was on my way home after a long day, and my car started acting up.  I avoid our small town's main roads whenever I can, the stop-and-go traffic lights really annoy me.  I had turned on to a side street to miss a red light, and when I made a left hand turn to get back to the main road, the steering wheel was suddenly nearly impossible to turn.

My first car (a 1984 Pontiac Fiero, her name was Lola) didn't have power steering, so I know what it feels like when there isn't any.  This was harder to turn than Lola's steering wheel, so I knew that there was a problem.

Then warning lights started to flicker all over the dashboard.  The battery light.  The oil light.  The check engine light.  The car started to overheat.

This is bad, y'all.

I was less than a mile from my house, so instead of stopping the car, I drove it home.  If this ever happens to you, please be smarter than I am: STOP THE DAMN CAR, don't continue to drive.  I managed to not create further damage by driving while the car got hotter and hotter, but I could have scrapped the engine with this foolish decision.  Which would have been very costly.

When I pulled in to our garage, the car shut itself off.  This is really bad.

My father is a car guy, and I grew up surrounded by cars that were works-in-progress, so I do actually know my way around an engine.  Sort of.  I'm not an expert, but I'm not going to say something like, "The doohickey quit working the thingamabob." because I know the correct names for the doohickey and the thingamabob.  I'm reasonably good with tools, too.  

The power steering crapping out on me could have been the pump that pumps the power steering fluid in the engine, but with the rest of the symptoms, there was only really one thing that could have broken: the serpentine belt.  This small-ish rubber belt runs your alternator.  Your power steering.  Many of the electrical components of the car.  It costs about $15, but without it?  Your car's gonna be imitating a brick.

DH and I dug around in the engine, burning our fingers in the process because that car?  It was HOT.  (Remember the overheating bit?  The car shut itself off because it was too hot.) We discovered that the belt was in OK shape, but something that keeps the belt running around all of its little gears and pulleys, called the tensioner, had partially melted and partially fallen apart.  

This isn't a difficult fix; the tensioner practially came off in our hands, so putting a new one in was easy-peasy.  The hard part was getting the belt wrapped back around all of the proper components.

Great, car's fixed, we're back in business, everything's OK.


I took the car for an oil change after this fiasco, and the oil change guys informed me that my gas tank is leaking.

Bad?!?  We're past bad and on to dangerous.

Since they told me that the gas tank is leaking, all of a sudden, the car smells like gas, inside and out.  The gas gauge is slowly, but steadily, dropping.  That wasn't happening before.  Urgh.

I am thankful that I have a car.  That I have a job and can afford to get this fixed.  That DH and I can do this ourselves and not pay a mechanic $1000 to switch out the gas tank.  Not so much with the thankfulness for it being broken. 

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