The Car Curse

I think a poltergeist has taken up residence in our vehicles. Seriously.

We — hubby and Beta, that is — made an unwise purchase of a too-used Honda Prelude several weeks ago. The kid who sold it to them said it needed the clutch adjusted, but when the adjustment failed, a reliable mechanic diagnosed the real problem: first gear is gone. And, it needs a couple of electronic sensors that total about $600, even from a junkyard. The total repair estimate was $2000 — 25% more than she paid for the car.

The kid who sold it to them won’t take her phone calls, so we’re stuck with it. Caveat emptor.

Beta worked a few more paychecks, diligently saving about $150/week, and she started looking around for another car. She found another on Craigslist, an older BMW, that had a good motor, good brakes, and a solid clutch. We bought it, but stopped at a mechanic on the way home to see about fixing the oil leak. Ack — $1,300 estimate on the oil leak, which the shop estimated at about a quart per day. Much worse than first thought. Fortunately, this guy was a good bit more ethical, and agreed to take the car back, since we’d had it less than an hour.

Unfortunately, he’d already spent $200 of the purchase price, paying off his cell phone bill. I agreed to let it slide until he sold the car again (he’s a college student).

So, we’re being a good bit pickier about used cars.

Meanwhile, Alpha has arrived home, and has taken up driving the Suburban to work. Last Friday, she pulled over and called home when she noticed the smell of burning rubber, caused when the air conditioning compressor froze up and the serpentine belt was rubbing. So, off to the shop it went. Monday evening as Alpha and Hubby were bringing it home, his truck died along the way.

It’s a 2002, with only 64k miles on it. So yesterday, it went to the shop. It ended up being something really weird, like the front brakes locked up, and the engine sensed too much load, and died whenever he let the clutch out. Or something like that.

So, the last car standing was my mustang. Today I stopped at Advance Auto Parts for Beta to drop off a job application (she’s looking for a second job for the summer); when I tried to leave, nothing. No tick, no sputter, no map lights, no little bell that dings when the door is open.

Ok, it still had the original Ford battery. Six or seven years is a long time. And, I was at an auto parts store, where the nicest young man was kind enough to take out my old battery and install a new one.

Still, what are the odds of three perfectly good, working vehicles all going haywire within five days’ time? All during a time when both Alpha and Beta are looking to buy vehicles, and I’m having to run them all over the place.
* * *
After looking high and low (mostly low, it seems), test driving junkers, and dealing with the whole gamut of car salesmen (from decent to slimy), Beta has decided that she’d rather spend her $1500 to get the Explorer fixed, and Alpha decided that Beta’s Prelude looks better than the stuff she’s finding on Craigslist for the same price or more. So, Beta’s going to get the Explorer fixed, and Alpha’s going to get the Prelude fixed, trading her futon and feather comforters to Beta in exchange.

And, I think, there’s some scheme about Alpha helping Beta get to take over her job in three weeks, when Alpha leaves for her summer research internship at UGA.

I’m beyond caring at this point. I just want the junk cars out of my driveway, and I’m tired of taxiing everyone around. So, if I’m a little cranky, there’s a reasonable explanation.

Anyone up for an automotive exorcism?

4 Responses to “The Car Curse”

  1. on 15 May 2008 at 12:42 pm Jake

    So, uh, whats up with the Volvo?

  2. […] I got the jitters so badly, I had to lay down after I got back home.  No good, man, no good. However, I did manage to pass Netmom about 4 minutes before her car broke down. […]

  3. on 15 May 2008 at 3:01 pm Punk HP

    Look to the Walking Man. There your answers will you find.

  4. on 16 May 2008 at 11:26 am oneutvol

    NM, you’re supposed to let a mechanic look over the care “before” you make the purchase. Just a thought.

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