Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Auto Mechanics 101

It seems the cosmos always has an education for me! Lately it's been Auto Mechanics 101. Which is exponentially better than the crash course in Cancer and Chemotherapy or the correspondence course in War and Famine, but is not fun nonetheless!

No one ever gave me a syllabus, but, in the past month or so I've learned WAY too much about transmissions!

First the transmission in my beautiful, beloved 2004 Toyota Sienna minivan with only 130,000 miles went out. Tears (as my daughters might text). There is no money to fix it. But, if I'm lucky, I've learned, it might just be the throttle body or the throttle cable instead. Pray for me!

So then Mark let me drive his 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan (he drives the truck most of the time because he's always pulling RVs). I was blessedly only 25 miles out of Enid (on the 250 mile trip back to Fayetteville just as dusk was settling in), when that transmission gave out. Am I transmission jinxed OR WHAT? No money to fix that one either.

So Mark and his sweet mother got together and loaned me Bonnie (see previous post). And, despite her shortcomings (like no power steering or A/C and having to shift gears), Bonnie has been a true blessing! I LOVE getting 47 miles per gallon and, unlike the other cars, Bonnie actually GOES places!

But I got up one morning and Bonnie wouldn't start. Dead battery. Out of the blue.

I jumped the battery and she started up but wouldn't go anywhere. And I completely panicked because that's so very TRANSMISSIONY and I've been traumatized by transmissions lately, as you know! But then she decided to go and I guess I had the parking brake on or something just to freak myself out.

Just to cover my bases, I cleaned off the battery connections (which had voluminous and ominous-looking turquoise chrystals growing on them -- did you know soda pop is a good cleaner for battery connections?). In the process, I noticed a fan belt was missing. Lesson: Alternator Belts. For $9, a replacement was purchased and Bonnie is back up and running!

In the meantime, I was driving Emily's 1988 Honda Prelude that she's trying to sell. And the oil light starts flashing at me. I added oil and the light went off. Whew! No big problem lurking and no blown motor because I neglected to add oil (which is something I would TOTALLY do!). Simple fix but a big deal for me because boys usually do that sort of thing for me!

I have also learned that when Emily's 1995 Firebird makes that horrible sound and loses it's power steering, it needs power steering fluid. The cute teenage boy at Auto Zone even refrained from more than a slight chuckle at having to walk out to the parking lot to show me where to pour it in! For the record, I had figured out where to pour it in. I just didn't want to find out later that I was wrong -- thus getting an additional, unwanted auto mechanics lesson!

So, let's hope the semester of Auto Mechanics is over! But I guess I could also use the lesson on Air Conditioning that Bonnie might teach and the subsequent climate control benefits!

I've decided: I think I might like knowing more about cars than just how to turn on the ignition and how to put in gas. In fact, if I had time on my hands and a good pair of greasy coveralls, I might just wander down to the Vo-Tech and enroll! Really, I would dearly LOVE, someday when I'm somewhere in my early 90's, to have my progeny say about me, "Yeah, Grandma's out in the garage rebuilding a transmission again"! THAT would be cool!

Oh! And, by the way, I have also learned how to remove the seats from a car. But that's the next post!

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