Tuesday, April 30, 2013

When mechanics laugh my wallet cries

Yesterday the husbeast called me on his way to the office to tell me the check engine light in his car had come on and that he was fairly certain there was something very wrong with the car. This really was not the conversation I wanted to be having yesterday morning, or any morning for that matter. Our history with car repairs is not exactly stellar.

No matter how much I disliked the idea, I had to take his car to the shop. Luckily for me our mechanic is right across the street from my office and I could just drop the thing off on the way to work and walk to the office. The walking would be good for me after all.

I asked the husbeast to tell me what was wrong with the car so I could relay it to the mechanic. I am fairly well a typical female when it comes to cars. I refer to problems in words like 'The thingy is making a weird noise' and describing noises as 'scratchy' 'grindy' and 'clunky'. I am told that none of this is actually useful. He told me I wouldn't be able to miss the problem.

I finally convinced him that even if I recognized there was a problem I probably still could not articulate it to the mechanic when the time came. He told me he thought the timing was off or there was a cylinder miss firing. These are all things that would have never come out of my mouth. I am still not even sure what the timing is exactly, even after he explained it to me twice.

He was right in one thing though; after driving the car I knew there was a huge problem. When the car was idling at say a red light, the entire car would shake. When I say shake, I mean it was significant. It sort of looked like my car had one of those stupid huge sound systems that cause the base to rattle the windows. Only there was no base coming out of my car.

When I got the car to the shop I told the mechanic that my engine light had come on and the car was shaking something awful when it idled. I don't know if I actually managed to say the words 'timing' or 'miss firing' when talking to the man. He didn't seem to notice though and told me he would call me when they found the problem.

A few hours passed before I got the call. This worried me more than a little. I mean if it was something simple and easy you would think he would call me right away. If it was taking this long perhaps they were having to go to all manner of lengths just to diagnose the problem. Perhaps this was going to be a huge issue.

As soon as he started talking to me on the phone I knew I was worrying for nothing. I knew this because he was trying his damndest not to laugh as he was telling me what the problem was. Normally I would frown upon a laughing mechanic, but I like this guy so I was alright with it.

What was the problem you ask?


No seriously, the problem was squirrels. I can't make this stuff up.

Apparently some of the tree rats that are so numerous around our house have been trying to nest in the engine. He told me there were so many acorns on the engine that he couldn't see the wiring. He had to take a blower to it in order to find what the problem was.

The problem was that the damn squirrel had chewed through the wires. It had cut the wire that operated the check engine light and a wire that was causing the engine to miss fire. I didn't ask for specifics on how exactly that worked because it would have gone in one ear and out the other honestly.

He managed to replace the wire and plug that was damaged and get everything working again. He did tell me that I was damn lucky. He could only really fix it because it was just the one wire. If it had been any worse they would have had to replace the entire electrical harness. I was told that what was a $100 repair today would have been close to a $4000 repair if it had gotten any worse.

So the car is now in working condition again and I am only out $100 for the repairs. Considering what I was told this could have been a lot worse. A whole lot worse.

Now I have to go home and figure out how to keep the squirrels from nesting in my engine. I have already gotten a ton of helpful suggestions including fox urine, black chai tea, and vaseline with cayenne pepper applied to the wires.

Who wants a simple life?

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