Vehicular Fun

Very, very little is happening in my world right now, and there are two things to blame for this. One is a usual suspect: Unemployment.

The more unusual suspect is my car. My car has been a rock. Ten years old, eight of them under my care. Other than routine maintenance and a couple cosmetic scrapes, it’s been quite solid.

Now, however, it’s starting to get old and cranky. It all started when my regular mechanic pointed out that the A/C and alternator belts were really worn out, and that I probably needed to get my timing belt changed.

It’s recommended at either 90 or 105,000 miles, and neither he nor I could find any record it had ever been changed. My car is currently at around 134,000 miles, and if the timing belt breaks it pretty much takes out half the engine, so it’s definitely a bit of maintenance I wanted to get taken care of ASAP once I realized it needed to be done.

My regular guy couldn’t do it because you basically have to take apart half the engine to change it. After getting an obscene quote from a dealer, I was referred by Nate to someone his friends had used, who quoted me a third of what the dealer wanted (and less than half of what my regular mechanic had guesstimated).

So I took the car in on Wednesday, and they shaped up the timing, alternator, and AC belts for exactly what they quoted me, to the penny. Great news, right? Except for one tiny detail.

There’s a thing that goes around the axle, inside the wheel (what it’s called is written on the quote they gave me, but I’m currently too hot and lazy to get up and look for it), and it has a bunch of axle grease in it to keep the axle running smoothly.

So the guy opened the hood, took out what’s basically a flashlight on a long snaky pole, pointed out this item, showed me the decent sized crack in it, and showed me the large amount of axle grease it had kicked out.

It was one of those, “I don’t know what the hell that is or what it does, but I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to look like that” moments. Obviously, it needs to be replaced before the axle gets fucked up, since I do know that if the axle gets fucked up, that’s INCREDIBLY expensive to fix.

And of course, since it involves the wheels, if you change one side, you have to change the other so it doesn’t get thrown out of whack. The quote to get it completely fixed brought the total I’m going to wind up sinking into keeping the car running to just over $1000.

Normally, that would be bad, but it wouldn’t be terrible. But since I have no current income beyond the unemployment checks Unkle Ahnuld’s been sending me, it basically means I am a LOT broker than I already was.

Where I previously thought going out once a week for a night with my friends for $25-40 was a splurge, at this point I’m finding that going once a week to In-N-Out burger ($6.10 for a double-double, fries and a soda) is a splurge.

Hopefully something will come through soon and I’ll be able to start living like a normal-ish human again. Or I’ll finally snap and convince myself that living with a roommate wouldn’t be that horrifying. We shall see.

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