March 2, 2012

Check Engine

My check engine light is off... This feels like a trick.

The Go Go Gadget red car is now fifteen years old and can be likened to an obstinate teenager or (more accurate for car years) a crotchety old women. The teenager in her knows exactly when pay day is and conveniently needs maintenance as soon as my check reaches the bank. The old woman gets bored and every so often messes with me for no good reason with sounds that are only occasionally heard or a check engine light that mysteriously turns off for one week every six months. If it were nearer to June I would race to a mechanic for an inspection sticker. Come to think of it, that was the last time the check engine light was off.

Adding insult to injury, the crotchety old lady is now leaking antifreeze and an increasing pace. It use to be I would fill her a couple times a month but it's now every week and probably I should be doing it more often. I cracked the engine block in a previous car and would never want to go through that again, but this is just one more repair that I don't have the cash for right now and every time I have one thing done two more things are found.

To recap: Leaking antifreeze, cracking drive belt, slight grinding while breaking (cause unknown), marginally slipping clutch, and a catalytic converter (hence the check engine light). The antifreeze I can keep refilling (for now), the drive belt I will need to fix, no mechanic (we're up to three) can figure out the grinding, the car will drive without a clutch, and I've learned to nurse the catalytic converter along. So really we're in pretty good shape... right?


  1. Radiator stop leak may string along or fill the radiator leak- $6
    Belt dressing will lube up your cracks and may keep the belt ok for a little more time and is about $4 . Check engine lights came on in my German Auto when it reached it's standard maintenance mileage, like a reminder to get the regularly scheduled checkup. It would also go off after a couple thousand miles for months at a time. You just had the brakes done and should be under warranty. Waste no time taking it back to where you had them done and get them fixed.

    Lastly, I post on craigslist that I am looking for certified mechanics to do work on my car for cash. You must be selective and watch them as they work till you can trust them. You will experience huge savings if you try this because most shops try to rip you off and charge like $90 an hour to sit around for 3 hours. And most shops build in their liability and legal worries into your bill. I had a lot of success finding a good out-of- work mechanic to do awesome work on my car for inexpensive cash rates. Good Luck Ash.

    Oh and if it were me I'd take the car with down south.



    1. Posting on Criag's List is a great, I'm not sure why I never thought of that, especially for little maintenance things that shouldn't require ordering parts. I'm going to look for that belt dressing too. Thanks for the info!

  2. Ash

    All cars require lots of maintenance , I would bet you neglected 90% of all recommended service items due to lack of money & knowledge,, like changing the timing belt, changing oil, plugs, trans mission fluid, changing break fluid, power steering fluid, rear differential oil, u joints, repack wheel bearings, water pump, alternator, battery on and on , your car maybe has effective 400,000+ miles due to lack of proper service.

    You should ask the VW dealer what the actual matienance items are ? Then you will see what I mean. Your car will just keep sucking your money, till your blood is sucked dry. When you go to your new school job, it would be better to say good bye to her.

    1. More like I neglected 95% of the proper maintenance and the worst part is that I know exactly what needs to get done, I just don't have the cash to put into it. The car was starting to give out three years ago and I said "I'm not going to put any more money into this thing", but the stuff that broke was always so minimal that she could be nursed along. She's had a good run and now deserves to retire in NOLA where I will park her in my driveway and improve my vehicle knowledge by taking her apart:)


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