Alternative title: Chrislove Has Really, Really Crappy Luck Edition. Or: Chrislove's Car Is a Flaming Pile of Dog Poo Edition. Or: #$^@^%$^%&^%& Edition. All of those would be accurate.
This week was not a very good one. You might remember my earlier Top Comments diary explaining my streak of bad luck with my 2002 Ford Taurus, which I have lovingly named Delores. I'm starting to become convinced that Delores breaks herself intentionally just to watch me get pissed off. I think she gets some kind of sick thrill out of it. Whatever the reason, even though she's been on her best behavior lately, the bad luck has resumed. This time it involves what I consider to be the most important part of the car, considering I'm in Houston and it's, um, freaking 293 degrees outside: the air conditioning. Follow me below the doodle-thingy to either empathize with me or be happy Delores isn't your car.
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Please come in. You're invited to make yourself at home! Join us beneath the doodle...
Some of you may remember that I posted a comment in TC recently saying I was going to take my car to Firestone to get the A/C checked out. Now, my A/C has never been the best, especially since I moved to Houston. I've had it checked before. Multiple times, actually. Each time, I was told, in so many words, "Welcome to Houston." So I've lived with a mediocre A/C for a while now.
But recently, it had been much worse. It started actually blowing hot air. That's when I knew something was up. So I decided, rather than risk damaging the system (not to mention suffer in the Houston heat), I'd take my car in to Firestone again to get it looked at. I figured I'd probably just need a recharge or something, and I'd be on my way.
Of course that wasn't the case. You called it.
After checking the A/C out, the mechanic gave me the news: I had a couple leaks. I would need to replace some hoses and what-not. Nothing terribly major, but major enough to cost over $500 including labor. Oh, and bt-dubbs, I needed an oil change and my brake fluid flushed out. How kind of them to check. Final estimate: about $700.
My eyes bugged out of my head, but I put my thinking cap on and remembered that, a long time ago, I'd budgeted exactly $700 for my car inspection in August. So I decided to go ahead and get the work done, plus get my car inspected, and I'd only be a tiny bit over budget (even though, I'll be honest, I was only really planning to spend a fraction of that $700 on my car). I wasn't happy, but not a huge deal.
So the mechanics got to work. They even offered me a ride home so I didn't have to sit in the waiting room for three hours.
A couple hours later, I got a phone call. "Oh, great, my car's done," I thought. I'm sure, by now, you know Chrislove's luck better than Chrislove does, so you can guess that wasn't the situation.
"There's a problem," the mechanic on the other end said. "Your car is so old, and your A/C parts have been untouched for so long, that we can't disconnect the hose from the condenser."
The condenser, if you don't know, is one of the most major parts of the A/C system. Don't ask me what it does, because I'd have to Google it.
I knew what the mechanic was going to say. "Oh God," I uttered.
They needed to replace my entire condenser, in addition to the other parts. I must have sounded really, really desperate on the phone, because the mechanic was extremely apologetic, and he gave me all kinds of discounts--$50 off, 10% off the condenser, a free oil change. But in the end, my bill for everything still came to $983.
I'm pretty sure I let out a few expletives. The mechanic apologized profusely again, and then asked if I wanted to go through with it. What was I going to do? Drive around with no A/C? Maybe in Pennsylvania, but not here. I also have a trip to Dallas coming up next week, and I'd fry sitting in that car for four hours in 90-100+ degree heat. So I gave the final go-ahead.
The mechanics were really wonderful about the whole thing. They worked after-hours on my car. Even though their driver had long since gone home, one of the mechanics came and picked me up. He apologized over and over again, and I told him not to worry about it, that I knew my car was a piece of shit. I remember sitting in a Firestone waiting room for over six hours while mechanics tried to replace my struts, which were nearly impossible to remove. So I got it.
I ended up putting $183 of the bill on my credit card, as much as I didn't want to. I'll pay it when I get my student loan payment in August. But $983 just wasn't in my budget.
So I have resolved, from this day forward, to put whatever extra money I can get my hands on into a new car fund. Maybe not a new car, but a newer car. Delores, who has suffered through more Pennsylvania winters than any car should have to suffer through, is falling to pieces. Time is running out. So I hope, now that I have a new apartment with lower rent, that I can cobble together enough money for a nice down payment on a car that isn't rusting and rotting from the inside out. I can't do these huge repair bills anymore. It's just insane.
In the meantime...I'm not going to jinx myself by saying Delores appears not to have anything else wrong with her. Not gonna go there. I've learned my lesson when it comes to that.