cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 10:02pm on 19/07/2010 under
Starting in the spring, my faithful Toyota Avalon has been nothing but trouble.

In March, my check engine light came on. I took the car to my mechanic, and it turned out that one of the O2 sensors in my fuel injection system had died. There are four of those in my car, my mechanic told me. $250 or thereabouts to replace.

I took the car back to the mechanic just before the Michigan trip, fearful of brake problems, only to learn that the brakes (recently replaced though I no longer recall when) were fine and the problem was a small part--I forget where. Cost: $36.

As I drove across Pennsylvania to Michigan, my check engine light came on again, though the car appeared to be running okay. Found a good mechanic through the recommendations of friends, and learned that...yes, another one of the O2 sensors had gone bad. $264 (though the mechanic didn't charge me for the diagnostic test, a $60 value!)

The week *after* I got back from Michigan, I was driving to our favorite game store, The Games Keep, LLC, when my left rear tire suddenly started going tha-chunk--on a smooth patch of road. You guessed it--the tire was pancake flat. Fortunately, there was a Pep Boys within AAA free-towing distance, and they were still open. Two hours later and $100 poorer, I was back to gaming.

And this past Friday night, as I ran to the Wawa convenience store located near Games Keep to grab a sandwich for dinner, my car suddenly refused to start! The only warning had been that my dashboard clock had lost its memory a few times the week before. This time, the AAA guy showed up in minutes, diagnosed a bad battery (it did look decrepit, with white gunk crusted around the terminals) and sold me a new one for $110.

Oh, and I will need to take the car for the state-required annual inspection by the end of September. I wonder what my mechanic will find then--and after. :-(

Though this is undoubtedly much better than being hit with a giant repair bill all at once, it still sucks.
Mood:: 'annoyed' annoyed
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 08:58pm on 12/02/2007 under , , ,
It's been about six weeks since I bought the Land Shark, and it's already been back to the dealership twice.

Not for anything major; it runs just fine.

The first time, I took it in to fix the problem with getting it to shift gear into Park. The sporting lads at the dealership lubed the relevant parts, but told me that they couldn't reproduce the problem; for them, it worked just fine.

While I tried to decide whether to bring it back and force them to watch *me* do the shifting, to see if there was something I was doing wrong, we had a snow fall followed by a cold snap. On a Saturday afternoon, after the snow had (mostly) melted, I opened the rear passenger door on the driver's side--and could NOT get it to close again. It would not latch. We tried duct taping it shut, and it flew open while I was trying to make a (rather sedate) right turn. Eventually, our friend [ profile] shakati got it to close and lock, but then could not get it unlocked again. That was fine with me, so long as it didn't pop open in traffic while I drove it to the dealership the following Monday.

The lads at the dealership lubed the latch, and when I got back the following day to reclaim the car, told me that they hadn't been able to reproduce the problem. It worked just fine. I insisted on opening and closing the door in front of the manager on duty before I left with the car, and it was true; the door was opening, closing, and locking just fine.

This past Saturday, I took the car through a car wash to get rid of the accumulated road salt. It got 10 degrees colder by nightfall, and as [ profile] esrblog and I were about to leave after visiting [ profile] shakati and [ profile] pmat, I opened the same door, tried to close it...and it wouldn't latch. I reentered their home, complaining to the gods, and out of the goodness of his heart [ profile] shakati went outside and tried the door himself.

He reported that it was working just fine. "Try slamming it a bit hard next time it does that," he suggested.

I had. Both times.

What I am thinking of doing is buying a car cover. Ice inside my door's edges appears to be an unusually bad thing with this car.
Mood:: 'annoyed' annoyed
location: at my desk
Music:: Wesnoth trolls
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 01:16am on 10/12/2006 under ,
In the end, I decided not to buy the 2001 Honda Civic that had caused so much trouble for me and Sales Guy. I went instead with the Avalon. [ profile] esrblog and I went to the dealership yesterday morning to sign the papers.

The Avalon in question, in case you missed my recent post that mentioned it, is a 2000 Toyota Avalon, a largish four-door sedan with a lot of nice options and standard features, such as power everything, a combination CD-cassette player in addition to the radio, lights in interesting places, and an all-leather interior, among other things. It has an amazingly silent ride, brakes easily, accelerates well, and handles beautifully. Because it's a "certified pre-owned" car, it has a brand-new set of tires, and even comes with a limited warranty. Because it has 61,000 miles, and had been on the lot awhile, it was actually several hundred bucks cheaper than the Civic. My car is silver with a beautiful light gray interior. I have never had a car that looked so new, or so glamourous.

I've nicknamed it the Land Shark.

Don't get me wrong. I did not think that Sales Guy or anyone else at the dealership had unfastened and refastened the "check engine light" on the Civic on purpose. If they had done that, it would have been more in their interest to steer me toward the 2004 Honda Civic Sales Guy showed me last week, which cost nearly $2,000 more than either the 2001 Civic or the Avalon. They didn't.

What happened was this. I went to the dealership on Thursday night, prepared to buy the 2001 Civic if it still seemed to be a good idea when I drove it again. Sales Guy came to pick us up in the Civic, but let me do the driving on the way to the dealership. Thursday was very windy and cold here, and I noticed as I drove that the Civic, like my poor old Subaru, tended to shudder as the wind gusts hit it, a phenomenon which has always unnerved me. It also was noisy, and the ride was kind of rough.

Then I asked to test drive the Avalon again. It didn't shudder in the wind, and its ride was neither rough nor noisy. And I said to myself: Why should I pay so much money to get a car that's no better than my Subaru, when I can get a car that won't shake in the wind? That's when I decided to go with the Avalon.

My mechanic thought the Avalon was great. His only caveat was that the Avalon will likely need a bunch of servicing items when it gets close to 90,000 miles, to the tune (probably) of $800 or $900. On the other hand, that's two, maybe three years down the road, given the number of miles per year I usually put on my cars. Even with that future maintenance expense looming, it still seemed worth taking.

So now I'm Queen of Avalon. We'll see how long the car stays looking new, given Pennsylvania temperatures and driving conditions.
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 01:21am on 03/12/2006 under , ,
It's final. I'm not buying the 2001 Honda.

Why? Because I was at the dealership this afternoon, looking at a different car just in case, and I decided to give it another test drive, since they'd just *replaced* the damn torque converter.

I had driven it no further than a half mile when the "check engine" light went on again, accompanied by the blinking of the light around the selected gear.

Even Sales Guy admitted this killed the deal. Because that means we have no idea what, if anything, is wrong with this car, and I have no intention of buying a potential problem.

So instead I ended up looking at two different other cars. One is the Toyota Avalon I originally went there to see. The Avalon is a large 4-door sedan, much larger than the Suburu I had had or the Honda that just washed out of the race. It's a 1999 model, with about 61,000 miles, but it looks like a new car, and has the smooth, silent, ride and feel of a land cruiser. Carfax says no sign of accidents or other problems, and Consumer Reports likes the model. It has beautiful leather upholstery, a built-in CD player, and power-just-about-everything. And the price (about $11,500) was a tiny bit cheaper than they were charging for the 2001 Honda. I asked why the low price, and it turns out they just lowered it, because it's been around for awhile and they're hoping to move it. (This is a Honda shop, and they don't get many Toyotas, or land cruisers, there, even as trade-ins).

In light of my lack of parking talent, I never really wanted a land cruiser, and while I like power locks, I'm not really used to making my seat do the Watusi with power controls.

The other car I looked at is a 2004 Honda Civic LX. 53,000 miles. A four-door sedan, rather similar to the one that washed out. They just got it as a trade-in, so it hasn't been through their conditioning/certification process yet. That likely will happen Monday, Sales Guy said.

My only concern is that it has a few small body dings... just enough to make me wonder if this car has a ... history. And the 2004 Honda will cost more, too, because it's newer. The dealership hasn't fixed a price for it yet, but Sales Guy says it will likely be a bit over $13,000.

I told Sales Guy I'd touch base with him Monday and tell him which of the two, if either, he should take to my mechanic for a look-see. I hope I can manage to decide by then.
Mood:: 'hopeful' hopeful
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 11:35pm on 30/11/2006 under , ,
Those of you who may have assumed that I am, by now, the possessor of a spiffy, certified pre-owned 2001 Honda have reckoned without Murphy's greedy grasp. He forgets about me for months at a time, but when he decides to harass me, he makes the experience memorable.

As is my practice, I refused to purchase the car until my mechanic had checked it out. The earliest time my mechanic could do so was 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday. If all went well, [ profile] esrblog and I would meet Sales Guy that night to seal the deal.

While Sales Guy was driving the car to my mechanic's garage, the "Check Engine" light went on. My mechanic later told me that he discovered that the car had a technical bulletin out on it concerning the torque converter. A torque converter, it turns out, is a key component of an automatic transmission; it performs essentially the same function for an automatic transmission that a clutch does for a manual transmission, namely, it regulates the transmission of power to the car's wheels.

It is, in short, a very bad part of the car to have problems with.

Sales Guy told me that he had his service techs replace the transmission fluid, but he wanted to drive the car a bit more that day and see whether the problem reappeared before going further with the transaction. I agreed. My mechanic told me, privately, that except for the torque converter problem he thought the car was great, but that I should get a written warranty that the dealer would fix any transmission problems gratis for at least a year or refuse to take the car.

I talked to Sales Guy again and he said that the car has the remains of the original power train (read: engine and transmission) warranty: 7 years from the original purchase (which he thought would mean until November 2007) or 100,000 miles, whichever came first. The car has about 49,000 miles on it now. I said that, subject to actually reading the warranty, I'd proceed on Wednesday night with the deal if the car was showing no relapse and the warranty was as claimed.

Wednesday morning, Sales Guy called me back and said the "Check Engine" light was back again. This time they weren't fooling around; they were going to replace the torque converter themselves, but that would take a few days. He expects the torque converter to be replaced Friday, and he wants to drive it some more over the weekend. If there are no problems and I'm still interested, we could proceed on Monday night.

I thought about it. This was the only real problem my mechanic saw, and the dealership has been backed into fixing it with no cost to me.

So I told Sales Guy that I may well still take the car then, if I haven't found another car I prefer in the meantime. He agreed to leave things that way till Monday.

In the meantime, I have three or four prospects (most at other dealerships) that I want to check, an $84 bill from my mechanic for checking out the car, and a slowly growing bill for my rental car.

We'll see what happens Monday.
Mood:: 'thoughtful' thoughtful
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 11:45pm on 25/11/2006 under ,
* I got an early Christmas present from [ profile] esrblog: a brand-new, 19-inch flatscreen LCD monitor. Lovely to look at, easier on the eyes to use, and I now have four square feet of desk space I didn't have before!

* I have decided to let the insurance company take my Subaru and shop for another car. The leading contender is a certified pre-owned Honda Civic 4-door sedan, with about 50,000 miles on it. Except for the color, which is a metallic antique gold, it looks like this. The price is pretty close to's estimate for such a vehicle too. I've put down a very small deposit--enough to get the Sales Guy to hang onto it till Monday, at which time I'll seal the deal unless something else looks better.

* I have not managed to do anything else constructive this weekend, other than helping [ profile] esrblog obtain and set up the monitor. Tomorrow I work, for sure!
Mood:: 'optimistic' optimistic
Music:: More "Wesnoth" music
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 09:12pm on 12/11/2006 under
I have somewhat good news on the car front.

Travelers will still give me money and let me keep my car, if I want. They will deduct only about $110 as the so-called "salvage value", and give me about $1,600, which I can use to get a temporary fix on my Subaru (which has a rear signal light that no longer works) while I shop for something more permanent. I like this idea.
Mood:: 'hopeful' hopeful
location: home
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 10:44pm on 01/11/2006 under , ,
Don't be fooled by the suggestive title; this entry is "worksafe."

I was driving to a court hearing on Monday afternoon. It was a beautiful day. Sunny, warm, bright, with hints of autumn color showing in the trees.

I was stopped at a traffic light in a small town. Just as the light turned green and I was about to step on the accelerator to resume moving, I heard, or maybe I should say felt, a huge WHAM! that pushed me back against my seat. Fortunately, I was wearing my seat belt and my headrest was properly adjusted, so I suffered no injury.

What had happened, of course, is that my car had been hit by the vehicle behind me. A royal blue 2004 Ford Ranger SUV, to be precise, as I learned once we were able to navigate our way to a sidestreet where we could park and exchange insurance information. The driver was a woman about my age, and properly apologetic.

The car's driveability did not seem to be affected, though the taillight cover is now broken, and the right rear turn indicator no longer works (the rear taillight itself still operates, as do the remaining turn signal lights).

Her insurance company's appraiser came by this afternoon to assess the damage. His assessment: The car is officially "totaled," since it is a 1993 Suburu Impreza in only fair condition. He assesses its worth at about $1,700 which might, or might not, suffice to fix the damage.

So I can take the money, junk the car, and look for a replacement (supplemented with money [ profile] esrblog has earned in recent consulting gigs). Or I can refuse the money and continue to drive the car in its obviously maimed state. Or, I can refuse the money, pay to fix the car out of my own pocket, and continue to drive the car. The appraiser hinted that I might be able to get some of the insurance money, get the car fixed and continue to drive the car by applying for something called a "salvage title"--but in that case I probably won't get the full $1,700. I believe that exhausts my legal options at this point. (I am not even considering illegal options, since I make my own living by advising insurance companies, and I do not intend to do anything that smacks, even faintly, of insurance fraud.)

Oh, and the effect on her SUV? So far as I could tell, not a scratch.

As for the hearing, I managed to arrive on time. The plaintiff never showed, so my client won by default.
Mood:: 'angry' angry
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 12:06am on 24/09/2005 under , , ,
It turns out that [ profile] jmaynard was right--the only thing wrong with the car turned out to be a bad battery. If only the battery had crapped out two days sooner, while the car was still in the shop undergoing annual state inspection, it would have saved me some time and stress if not money. Ed, my mechanic, tells me that most car batteries today have a 5-year warranty, and he put my last one in 5 years ago. Figures. :-(

In any event, I got the car back for a measly $140 ($89 for the new battery, the rest for labor). So things could have been a lot worse.

On the other hand, the new motor in my *car's* A/C system, the new motor Ed put in when I had the car inspected because the old one was whining annoyingly, has suddenly decided to work only when I have the fan set at the highest possible setting. Why, oh why can't anything I've gotten fixed lately *stay* fixed?
Mood:: 'annoyed' annoyed
Music:: Eric's keyboard again