Kill My Car

This has been a rough week. I had the whole issue with AT&T Wireless concerning my cell phone. Then I had to straighten out a payment with the bank. We made a very large payment, and wanted the overage to go towards the principal. Instead, the bank counted it as two payments, with the excess against principal. So I had to call them to get that straightened out. And now, my car is becoming a pain in the butt again.

Last Friday I took my car in for an oil change. The low coolant alarm had been sounding intermittently. It would come on for a second, then go off. Sometimes right as I started the car, other times while I was driving. I checked the coolant level, and it was fine. So at the oil change, I asked them to inspect the wiring harness. They told me everything was fine with the harness, and that they could replace the sensor for $55. Since it wasn't a real problem, I told them I would just monitor the coolant level. As I drove out of the shop, I saw that the light wasn't coming on. It still hasn't gone off, so I'm suspecting that it was just a loose wiring harness after all.

So Tuesday morning I pull my car into work, and as I turn the wheel as I'm parking, I hear this faint buzzing sound. It sounded sort of like an electric motor revving up. I didn't pay any attention to it though. That night, as I pulled out of the parking lot, the sound was much much worse. Every time I turned the wheel, the whole car groaned. I was pretty sure that it had to be a power steering problem. When I got home I saw that there was a big puddle of red oil in the garage. My car has been leaking power steering fluid like a sieve! I thought it was very suspicious that this would happen right after a visit to the mechanic.

I had Wednesday off of work, so I took the car back to Hare Chevrolet. I explain to the mechanic what was going on, and he takes it back into the garage. Over 45 minutes later he comes back out with a sour look on his face. He explains that the power steering gear has blown out all of its seals. I told him that it was pretty coincidental that this would happen right after an oil change. He said it was just an "unfortunate coincidence". Whatever. He took me back into the garage to have a look at the car. It was up on the lifts, and I could see that power steering fluid was all over the place. He showed me the parts that he was talking about, and explained that the seals could not be repaired, but that the entire power steering gear would need to be replaced. GM had the part for total replacement cost of $1430, or I could get a third party part for $1200. According to Kelley Blue Book, my car is hardly worth more than $5,000. I've already spent over $2,000 on my car this year replacing all of the tires, replacing a power steering valve, and replacing two bent rims. To keep this heap running I've got to pour another $1400 into it!!! No way!

Needless to say, I was not in the best mood for the rest of the day. Rather than having the service performed, I had them top up the steering fluid levels. The car is still going to leak like mad, but I can get a bunch of fluid from a parts shop for fairly cheap. The largest container at Pep Boys was $2.99. I figure that I can just leak oil for cheaper than I can replace the part. I'm going to have another mechanic take a look at this before I have the fix done. I may also try to pull one over on a car dealer by just trading it in. New cars cost just as much as used cars, with all of the discounts we receive. If I can get a dealer to not notice the leak, maybe I can get a good deal. Maybe....


Jade Mason