Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bugs in bugs

"This is a front wheel drive?"


Chunk. Chunk. Chunk. I watched dispiritedly as the front half of my car was lifted into position behind the tow truck. Resignedly, I noted that this trip was not going to end in a hockey game as originally planned.

I had only driven about ten minutes when the problem started; a juddering from the engine that shook the car. My engine warning light came on and started flashing. I didn't actually know that light could flash but, under the circumstances, I felt a conservative translation would be 'STOP OR YOU WILL DIE'. I bounced into a parking lot and optimistically tried shutting everything down and then turning it back on. Hey, I was a Microsoft Windows user too once. The resulting vibration might have been a seat feature if the car felt remotely safe to drive.

I called the CAA.

I rode with the tow truck across town to the VW garage, resentfully eyeing all the other vehicles around us.

"If we see another yellow beetle, could we just stop and switch them over?" I asked sadly as I spotted a grey bug parked by the curb.

"No problem. I know a guy who'll get you a set of keys for it for $150."

.... all in all, it was probably a good thing we didn't spot car like mine. I wasn't sure what my bill from the garage was going to be, but I was fairly certain it wasn't going to fall below $150.

The price of the repair was a particular concern. In all likelihood, I would be selling the car by the autumn and, at 10 years old, it wasn't going to be worth all that much. An added complication was that I had brought it into the country on a temporary import, so it would be preferable to sell it back in the USA rather than pay tax and duty on it in Canada. That meant that it had to be able to reach the border. I didn't like the idea of pushing.

I sat anxiously at the garage while I debated what my cut-off sum was; the amount at which I run from the room, denying all knowledge of having ever owned a car or evening knowing how to drive. I decided it was somewhere close to $1000. Around the price a serious engine malfunction would probably cost. I knotted my shoe laces tighter.

Miraculously, it turned out to be the ignition coil. Not cheap to fix, but not $1000 either. What was more, the garage had one in stock and fixed it within the hour. I had been hesitant about going to the VW dealership; as a general rule they are more expensive that a generic garage. The fact they were open until 8pm, looked at my car immediately and fixed it on the spot made it all worth while. The only bad news they gave me was that my spark plugs and wires also were showing wear and the oxygen sensor (emissions detector thingo) also needed replacing 'in the next few months'.

I'm pretty confident that'll mean after September.

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