Sunday, June 19, 2011

dead car

My poor 2002 Honda, which you might call an inheritance, decided to die on me this afternoon. I'm beginning to think that age, plus a 90-mile daily commute at an average speed of 75 miles per hour (roughly 3500rpm on the tach for a tiny, underpowered, in-line 4-cylinder engine), is taking its toll. The car wasn't designed to take this sort of punishment-- especially not now, when it's past its prime.

I had just turned off Route 495 (you non-DC residents may have heard of the Beltway, the route that circles DC and passes through both Maryland and Virginia) and onto westbound 66 when my car lost power: the engine was still running, but almost no power was going to the wheels. I was able to coast onto the left shoulder at Mile 59.5, where I then texted my brothers and called a towing service. I was told that the cost for towing would be $95-$150, depending on mileage, and that it would be 45 minutes before they got to my location. The guy arrived (with a wife or daughter in his truck) in 40 minutes, and I ended up paying $125 cash.

The day had started so well, too: I had driven back to the Costco where I'd gotten my eye exam done yesterday (Friday) in order to get a refund on the $160 order for the contacts. Costco refunded me in cash, and I had hoped to deposit that cash since I needed it to pay my bills. The cosmos had other plans, apparently, and decided that $125 needed to go right back into the ether.

The 40-minute wait for the tow truck was also excruciating because, as Murphy's Law would have it, I needed to dump somethin' horrible. So I sat in the car with hazards flashing and the windows partly rolled down to let in a breeze, trembling and sweating as if I were about to give birth, but didn't want to.

I rode with the driver and his wife/daughter/whoever back to his gas station-cum-service center. I was told that if the problem was the transmission, I was looking at either $1500 for a replacement with a used transmission, or $2200 for a total rebuild. I don't have this sort of money, so I'm hitting up a benefactor, Great Expectations-style, on the worst of all possible days-- Father's Day.

Right now, I'm at my apartment only thanks to my brother David. He'll be helping me rent a car tomorrow, after which I'll drive to visit my benefactor (to whom I never gave any "wittles"), plead my case, and hopefully receive enough fundage to tide me through this mess, which only seems to get bigger with time. One thing I'm grateful for is that, while I don't have many close friends, I have good close friends. I owe all of them a moral debt.

NB: I've already had the "uh-oh... they always say it's a transmission problem" discussion with David. This is apparently something to watch out for, but in my case, I'm pretty sure this is indeed a transmission problem: when you've got a revving engine and almost no power going to the wheels, then power isn't being transmitted to where it needs to go. I don't think a transmission-related diagnosis will be bogus. We'll know more in the morning, when the repair guys have had a look at the car. David's hoping it's just a fuel pump issue. I know next to nothing about cars, so I'm at sea, here.



Charles said...

If it were a fuel pump issue, the engine wouldn't run, or at least would have problems running (the fuel pump pumps fuel from the fuel tank to the engine). If, as you say, the engine runs fine but you're getting no power (or almost no power) to the wheels, I can't think of what else it could be but the transmission, unfortunately.

Sucks balls, man.

Bratfink said...