On Monday I drove to Palo Alto for a business development seminar (on storytelling, yay! Soomething I love.) Then I drove down to the city before it, Mountain View (aka Home of Google) to pick up Amita so we could go shopping in San Fran. Only, as I approached the downtown area where we were to meet, the car seemed to be goign slower and slower. Looking down, I saw the "check engine" light on. Flooring the accelerator only yielded a crawl from the car, although there were lots of revs. I quickly found a place to pull over a couple of streets off the main one.
Burning my fingers opening the bonnet, I discovered the car had no oil. Strange, since we'd only put some in about two months before. So I called the AAA (AA in NZ) to come and tow me to the nearest service station. While I was waiting, I decided to try and find Anita since, as it turned out, I was exactly two blocks away from the station where she was waiting (sans cellphone). And only one block away, I discovered a tiny mechanic's. So we bought oil and trundled back to the car, again burning our fingers trying to open the bonnet.
With oil inside, I hoped the car troubles were over. Hmmm, no. Several phone calls later, we were heading down El Camino Real (historically the first road in the area and technically highway 82, but it's full of traffic lights) lookiing for a petrol station. Right next door was an In-and-Out burger place, which is both Anita's and my favourite takeaway burger place, so we had lunch. We decided to take the freeway home since the car refused to accelerate at any speed at all, and this way we could avoid traffic lights. It worked OK on the freeway - I got it to 70 mph no problem. We obviously had to cancel our trip, which I was disappointed about. They leave in about two weeks!!
We really don't want to have to find a new car, after all we just had some more work done on it recently!
So today I took the poor little car to the first garage down the road. He gave me a litany of problems with it, not least being a.) the fact that he couldn't work out why the "check engine" light was on, the most important thing but he didn't have the right diagnostic computer program so we needed to go next door; b.) apparently it has a bad exhaust problem and needs two new catalytic converters - one would cost $600 and the other would cost $250; c.) it's leaking oil and has already lost almost all of what we put in it two days ago(!); d.) the brakes need replacing soon (which we knew about) and e.) the CV joints are going (which we already know). Lastly, f.) our little boyracer friends have been busy in the car and it has the wrong spark plugs as well as a few other oddities thanks to them.
So at the garage next door, I discovered this "diagnostic" would cost $109. For it to be hooked up to a computer for a little bit. I was not impressed, and told them so. But I left it there, and two hours later we got a phone call: a wire had come undone from a sensor connected to the transmission, and it wasn't changing gears properly. (We'd noticed that when it did change gears, the entire car shook with a noticeably large bang.)
So overall, we still have a lot to do to the car, and it's going to be expensive. I much prefer being without one, they seem to eat money. But hopefully I can drive to San Fran in the next few days for an interview. (My recruiter forgot to tell me it was today! :( I guess it worked out better though since we couldn't have driven the car then anyway, and it's more like a 3-hour journey by various trains etc to the same place otherwise.)