Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why Cars Suck it up the Ass
- or -
Thank you for not Fucking Me Big-Time

Some time ago, probably around 90,000 miles or so, my van started shifting funny and making a noise when in Overdrive.

Then, all of a sudden, the funny shifting stopped and it only made the noise sometimes. So I would therefore sometimes think I should get it looked at. But when I had to drive 3 hours every day and work 9 hours and sleep 8 hours and watch a baby for 5 hours every day I ran out of available time to ever take a van to get a transmission flush or looked at or diagnosed or fixed or anything.

So I finally found a block of time to get the transmission flushed on the van. But, the weekend beore that, my in-laws are scheduled to take a trip to the grandparent-land and they don't have enough seats in any of their cars.

I figure, in my infinite wisdom, that THE VAN LASTED THIS LONG, ONE MORE TRIP WON'T KILL IT so I insist they take the van on their trip. A trip which VERY MUCH features OVER THE RIVER and THROUGH THE WOODS as well as a lot of UP OVER THE FUCKING MOUNTAINS.

I am privately eased when I learn they arrived at the place in one piece. You see, I did not go with them. But my wife did. And my baby did. And I stayed at my house and disassembled my train table and cleaned my living room while blasting Star Wars movies through a very loud Dolby Digital EX receiver which recently found its way to my house by way of I BOUGHT IT FOR MYSELF AS AN ANNIVERSARY PRESENT SINCE I ALWAYS CONFUSE EVERYONE WHEN I GIVE THEM A LIST OF "GIFT IDEAS."

The next day, while said fambly are coming home, said van starts sputtering. By the time they make it back home, the van is stalling at stop lights. I take the van to the dealer to have it diagnosed.

Dealer diagnoses transmission and says THAT THING IS DEAD FUCKIN' BUSTED AND NEEDS A NEW TRANSMISSION.

I say, "."

But then I call the other place who does lots of work for me and they relate a tale of unscrupulous dealers selling unnecessary transmissions to customers when all it needs is a good flush.

So I have the van towed to the other place. And they flush it. And they test drive it. And they call me and say, "HEY! WE FLUSHED YOUR VAN - HELL, WE GAVE IT A 125% FLUSH AND IT'S RUNNING CLEAN FLUID ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT NOW," in their very excited service center guy voice. And then he says, "BUT IT'S STILL BUSTED AND YOU'LL NEED A NEW ONE."

And I say, "."

And I think to myself, "Thank you for not fucking me big-time."

I think to myself, "I'm really glad you talked me into a $225 transmission flush-and-fill on top of having to buy a new fucking transmission. Thank you for not fucking me big-time."
So they are $800 cheaper than the dealer on transmission replacment and I tell them to do it and I have to drive in my wife's car for a day because of DEAD VAN and then we realize it's going to be more like a week or two before we can actually afford to pay for a new transmission, so we rent a car.

I now get to drive my wife's car and my wife gets to drive the rental car.

Within 15 minutes of picking up the rental car, she backs it into a pile of dirt, gravel, and asphalt.

Within two seconds of driving my wife's car, I realize it's totally unsafe at any speed. It wobbles and swerves and steers itself into oncoming traffic. All in all, it's a fantastic conveyance for dropping off and picking up the baby. Really.

So I go get THIS CAR looked at.

The guy who test drives it comes back and says, "HOOOOOOO BOY! THAT'S A WILD RIDE, ISN'T IT?"

Then he puts it on the lift and looks for loose suspension components. Nothing is loose. But the tires look terrible. Especially on the back.

We have a meeting about the car. This meeting takes place under the car. I am holding the baby. Car is jacked up in the air. The meeting decides that the struts are all shot and need to be replaced. It also needs four tires. And an alignment.

The estimate for that MINUS the tires was $900.

Tires were between $75 and $105 each.

I opted for two new tires to evaluate the situation and see if it still felt 100% crazy or if it felt that the rear struts were causing most of the problem.

Two new tires on the front. Drove home. Seemed better. Much better, actually, in the front end. No shake or shimmy or terrible steering. But the rear end is loose like a goose and feels like it's going to spin out on 2 mph turns.

Then I further evaluated my options. The parts I needed for the strut replacment were slated at $135 each for the rear and $80 each for the fronts. I found the same parts with the SAME EXACT PART NUMBERS for almost half those prices at local parts stores.

I also found that the procedure to replace the front struts does not involve a spring compressor and should only take 15 minutes so I didn't understand the $80 PER SIDE charge for labor.

I took it upon myself to follow the procedure for the front struts. I bought two new inserts and rented the fancy GM tool to remove/reinstall them.

I started on the driver side strut. It came right out, as advertised. It went back together mostly as advertised, until it came time to tighten the retainer cap with the rented tool.

I torqued that son-of-a-bitch down to the designated spec, but it looked like it was only grabbing on three or four threads. The process was being complicated by the fact that the lower part of the strut (which doesn't get changed) is cocked at an angle under the spring pressure.
I figured it was good enough to get it to the place and they could tighten it if it was loose. So I took it there to have them do the rear struts and the aligning.

And they did.

And they called me the next day.

And they said, "HEY GUESS WHAT? WE'RE WORKING ON THIS THING AND THE LEFT FRONT STRUT IS STRIPPED YOU'LL NEED A WHOLE NEW ONE WHAT DO YOU WANT I SHOULD DO WITH IT?"

And I said, "."

So that explains why I had every problems since the bottom whole part what I didn't even ever adjust was sitting wrong cuzza some part is stripped. THANKS> GM.

I hate cars.

I got up this morning and started calling junk yards because BOTTOM PART OF LUMINA STRUT is not a REPLACEMENT PART and the PARTS STORE does not carry it.

But now, $40 later for a junk yard part and $70 a side to tighten the things I couldn't tighten (which, admittedly, is cheaper than the $80 a side they initially wanted to charge me) and every goddamn else the car is getting fixed.

OH. I forgot to mention. The guy at the place agreed to match the part store price on the struts. So that's good.

But who has $3000 for my fucking transmission?

3 comments:

Madhog said...

That is a mega fantastical. I really love all things about cars. Always. They are best.

We are probably buying Brandi a new thing soon, since her Kia is rapidly approaching deathzone *. Some crazy lady she knows wants to buy it from her, in all its haildented glory, for 1500 bucks. So I'm thinking we better take that shit and run while we can, because otherwise we'll be paying to have it junked somewhere I bet.

Also, part of your problem there is the whole thing about Pontiac. Or Ford or whatever. You need a japanese van next time. I know japanese vans are the shit, after being in Belize where every ancient toyota previa ever made and sold here was sent down there to be used for an additional 250,000 miles. Them things must be totally indestructable.

Funky Smith said...

Oh I'm sorry. Bad struts can be disastrous and I don't think you should let Phooiee drive around on bad struts. At this rate why don't you buy a used car, like a Tercel or a Ford Fuckus or something?

Phoooiee said...

The Fuckus was a rental car and it sure was tiny! Sacky can't fit in it.