Further tales of car trouble and shame, but this time I pwned the car guy
I’m continuing a story I started a few weeks ago about my lifelong lack of the car gene and all of the grief and shame that it has brought on me over the years. Only this time, I totally got one over on the car guys. You can now start checking hell for signs of frost.
To summarize the key points from before:
- I know virtually nothing about cars
- I own a mini-van
- I have the best AAA membership you can get
- I take my car to the dealership to get serviced
- I know I’m a moron and am probably way overpaying for car repairs
- I am male, which you might not have been able to guess from the previous five bullets
Anyway, when we left off, my car that wouldn’t start before mysteriously worked fine when the AAA guy was around and at the shop. Not even a whiff of a problem. And it continued to start without issues over the past few weeks, until Sunday evening that is. After a Mother’s Day late lunch at Downton Disney, we hoofed it back to our car, pulled out the key, turned the ignition, and only got “chugga chugga chugga.” Same thing as before. Not even my tried and true “let it rest for a bit” method worked. We called my mother-in-law back to watch the kids and reluctantly called AAA again.
I completely expected a replay of last time, where the car would start up the moment help arrived. To my surprise, it still didn’t start, so the friendly AAA driver (dude brought us two cold bottles of water on a hot day, that is STRONG customer service right there) loaded the van up and dropped it back at the dealer for us.
The next morning, I get a phone call from the service tech asking us what was wrong with the car. I explained and he told me that it had started right up and they that couldn’t find anything wrong with it, in a voice that was a tad too skeptical for my liking. I told him that this was the second time that we had to call a tow truck because of the problem, and he said that they would keep it and run diagnostics and see if they could replicate the issue. And of course they weren’t able to, because, the car universe hates me for my lack of interest in it. It really does.
When skeptical service guy called back, I told him to try something. The only thing these lack of starting incidents had in common is that they occurred late in the day, after the car had been sitting out in the sun on a hot day for some time. So I asked him if they could do that, leave the car out in the sun and try to start it late in the afternoon. Skeptical car guy could barely contain his laughter and scorn at my idea, but agreed to my crazy, non-car guy scheme.
In the meantime, did I mention to you what we have been driving around as an emergency vehicle? My mother-in-law just happens to have a spare car and graciously offered to let us drive it around. (and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful here because the car was a lifesaver). The car just happens to be the one vehicle that is more emasculating than a decade old minivan: one of those boxy, white Scions, which when idling sounds like a John Deer tractor with a box of loose tools on the hood. This thing could not be louder, which only makes people stare longer and laugh harder when you pull up next to them at a traffic light.
Pathetic, ain’t it? You can probably hear the mocking laughter of others right through your computer screen. (And see my ghostly reflection in the passenger side window as I hurried to take this picture before anybody else figured out that I was the one who drove this into work. Double sad trombone sound.) In the interest of fairness I should point out that this car has TONS of head and leg room, which of course is one of my main criteria for selecting a vehicle. Even that though wasn’t enough to overcome the overall lameness of this baby.
You want to hear something totally unexpected though? Turns out I was RIGHT and skeptical car tech was wrong. After they left it out to sit in the sun for the day, the car didn’t start, and it took them about 30 minutes to isolate the issue down to something called the main relay. I can only assume that means that there are four little men (or women, don’t want to doubt the talents of my sisters who run) running and passing batons to make my engine run, and that one of them was missing or tired out. Regardless, score a rare victory for JLo in the battle of man (allegedly) versus car. (And I’m sooooo knocking on wood right now. I don’t want to tempt fate or anything.)