Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold Karma

The high today is below zero. My trusty Jeep, which starts first time, every time, has been running nicely.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday the CHECK ENGINE light came on in my car while I was driving. Bad timing. Hey, I'm busy. Today I had a 10 AM hip doc appointment in a suburb far far away. [Details in a later entry.] This was an appointment that I had waited to get for a long time. An appointment that would determine when I could have surgery. An appointment I had to cancel.

Why did I have to cancel? After the CHECK ENGINE light came on, I realized I'd probably have to get my car to the mechanic, but I procrastinated all day. Besides, what does CHECK ENGINE mean anyway? FIX IT NOW OR ELSE? Or WHEN YOU GET A CHANCE? I turned down the radio and didn't hear funny noises in the engine so I figured I had some time.

Then something else happened. A slap upside the head if you will. As it got dark out I turned on my headlights. After I had been driving for about ten minutes they didn't seem very bright, so I flicked them on and off again. They were on, but I got more light from the street lamps. Turns out the headlights were the least of my problems.

I had my windshield wipers on because the snow was blowing across the road making it hard to see. I noticed the wipers were flapping like a 70 year old stripper dancing to "I'm So Excited." The one on my side of the car was especially animated. I was thinking perhaps something was wrong, just as the entire blade flew off into traffic and I couldn't see s**t. Hmm, better pull over or prepare to die.

Not wanting to just sit there helplessly, I turned my defroster up full blast so that any snow landing on the windshield would immediately evaporate. That seemed to fix the problem temporarily. [Thank you American engineering for all the heat.] I limped into a gas station to get a new blade, but the guys inside didn't want to come out. Too cold. Hey, whatever happened to the good old days when they HAD to come out to pump your gas? I even pulled right up to the door. [I thought about flashing some titola -- until I remembered the visual of the 70 year old stripper, not to mention having to explain to 911 how a nipple got stuck to the side mirror.]

So I drove three miles back to my neighborhood filling station, figuring they could give me a ride home if necessary. How long would it take to replace a wiper blade?

Unfortunately, the ride home became necessary pretty quickly. As soon as I drove into the station and waved at the mechanic, the car died. At first I wasn't sure it was dead, because all the security lights were flashing like holiday decorations. Then I remembered, that's my Jeep's death rattle.

The mechanic came out with one of those Life Sucks and Then You Die smiles on his face, shaking his head. He looked in my car at the needle on the electrical gage which was hovering on life support and told me the alternator was probably kaput so the battery, my new last summer battery, had died.

"I could tell something was wrong with your battery when you drove up because your headlights were so dim. You probably thought your vision was going." Actually I just thought the lights were covered with road crap.

The good news is that the blade is an easy fix and the parts guy had already dropped off a new alternator while I was waiting for a ride home.

The bad news is that I need a new alternator. Ka-Ching. And my car won't be fixed until long after my hip doc appointment.

Good times.


Ann said...

Well... At least you look good. Right? I just got my car up and running after fixing a blown radiator plus a bad fan. Fun stuff. (However, I'm contending with temps ranging from 40 - 80). :/

Rose said...

winter sucks this fingers are bleeding all over my keyboard. dead cars are a pain and expensive :(

Rose in Oswego

Claudia's thoughts said...

The damn cars always seem to go 5 nanoseconds afte the warranty expires. I would have thought there was dirt on the lights too.

emmapeelDallas said...

Sucks. I've had an alternator go, and it's no fun, but worse that you had to miss the doc appointment. I hope things look up soon.

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