Yesterday was a huge fail. I had intended to get gas before work, but since I was paged at 3:57 AM, I decided to just get ready and go into the office. I got there at 4:33 AM and had a somewhat un-impressive day in terms of my results, by my own standards.
It’s clear that the lack of sleep associated with being on-call is driving down my performance.
At the end of work, I turned on my car and saw that the check engine light was on. 20,000 miles ago, I had been told I had a blown head gasket and that my car would blow up if I tried to make the rest of my 1,700 mile journey.
On that journey, my car overheated over a dozen times. I don’t know what the issue was. It could have been a bad thermostat, because after it was replaced for free by a mechanic I worked with for a time, it didn’t happen nearly as much. On the same 1,700 drive back to Colorado, my car overheated once or twice towards the end of a 13 hour drive on the last day of my 4-5 day trip.
I took my car into the mechanic yesterday. The same one that told me it would blow up if I tried to drive it to the East Coast with a blown head gasket.
I had the worst customer experience ever, period. They told me cylinder 1 was misfiring, tried to rush me into a $100 diagnosis without even being aware that I had been there a year prior (until I mentioned it), and were extremely rude to me. It turns out I was helped by the same people that “helped” me last year. I was extremely short with the lead mechanic after his decision to stop talking about my car and instead start talking with the rep. I had been working with, about another car, and proceeded to ignore me when I asked if they were discussing my car.
When I pushed on, the lead mechanic responded that he was trying to finish something up so he could look at my car. What a load of crap. I was stern with him and told him he doesn’t care about my car and he’s ignoring me. After he said he was trying to get my car seen quicker, I told him he’s no longer needed and he left after that.
I continued to speak with the rep, asking about other things we could test in the car. The lead mechanic said since I had a blown head gasket (which they would have happily have charged me $100 to tell me again, even though it’s not clear there is a blown head gasket on that engine), that it explains why my cylinder is misfiring.
I left, and went to the gas station and filled up the car with gas.
I went home and continued my research. Then I decided to unplug my car battery to reset the OBD computer, assuming that the low gas had caused a pressure dip which caused the cylinder to misfire upon starting and then the code remained.
Low and behold, that was the solution.
The lesson here, aside from filling up your car with gas even if you’re in a rush to get to a page that is just going to end up being a false alarm, is not to listen to mechanics. If they are trying to rush you when you’re asking questions, go somewhere else. Yesterday I called a family shop and was offered to have my car looked at for free when I went over what I was experiencing.
I’m going to set up an appointment and have it checked out. If they tell me I have a misfiring cylinder 1, I can’t trust this family shop. If they tell me my head gasket is leaking, I might decide to get it fixed. Or I might decide to let the damn engine blow up since it’s got over 140k miles on it, buy one for $800 that’s got under 65k miles on it, and have someone install it for me for under $1800 or even be courageous and try doing it myself over a few weeks. It’ll really depend on what my time commitments look like, but it would be a lot of fun to replace an engine with zero experience and see what comes out of it. Worst comes to worst I end up with a car that has no engine in it, and I have to get it towed to someone who can put one in.
The moral of the story is that these people want to get cars in and out of the shop as quickly as possible. Not caring about the fact that if I dropped $1,600 on a head gasket repair that they might end up saying it needs to be replaced, turning into a $3k job, or telling me other things need to be fixed, or get this one, the biggest issue of all, is that it might not solve the problem. When researching the “mysterious cylinder 1 misfiring” I discovered people who had this issue and tried over a dozen things, themselves and in conjunction with mechanics, and still had the same problem. Timing belt replacements, timing belt adjustments, EBR valves, electrical component cleanings, fuel pumps, fuel injectors, spark plugs, cylinder swapping to isolate the problem, head gasket milling, you name it. They did all of these things, some of them got into accidents while trying to fix their car and sold it off as a loss, others sold it off after not being able to fix it, others had a loan on the car and couldn’t afford to sell it.
Of all the problems I saw, maybe one or two out of 50 people were able to get their issue solved, and it was always some random little detail that cost less than $100 to fix.
So why would I think it’s a good idea to pay these shady “mechanics” to touch very critical components of my car? If the process at that place is so shoddy that they would tell me my car would blow up if I drive it to the east coast, and instead I drive it 10x more than that distance and it’s still going, and if the process is so shoddy that they are willing to slide me in for a $100 diagnosis which doesn’t include more than 10% of the things I would want checked on it, and doesn’t offer a clear way for me to have other things checked aside from charging me $100 per thing to check, and they said that they were booked for the next week but low and behold they could squeeze me in that day as a part of their get in while you can scam, and are completely rude and don’t offer insights or even a few moments of question answering, aside from saying you need a head gasket replacement, there is no way in hell I want to do business with them.
Wouldn’t it make sense to pull up my previous records of when I had a diagnosis before telling me that they can diagnosis it? Shouldn’t someone, in all of this, have been able to tell that my car might have been misfiring because there was no gas in it?
Sure, I made a dumb mistake, but it’s clear to me that these people amongst others are willing to take your every penny instead of actually look at the damn car and say something of value. Short story short, I’m going to write a detailed review of the experience I’ve had with them there. I’m also going to mention the family shop I found and recommend that others go there instead of the dealership.
Today I made myself a drink with almond milk, two expresso shots, maca powder, and hemp protein. I am tired in a way, but in another way I am also just at the perfect level of concentration and energy.
Today I will get some coolant into my radiator, and today marks the day I begin to check my car fluids regularly, invest in maintenance, and treat it much better. I would ideally like to not have to get another car until I get my white Tesla. If I have to replace the engine, that’ll be okay. But I’ll do it when the engine blows up more than likely, not a minute sooner.
At work today I started rebuilding a knowledgebase I created a few weeks ago. I like the new system I’m building it in and am excited to create documents and processes that I can use and share with the rest of the company.
Oh, as a note, I will have a Tesla because it will keep me safe, keep my family safe, be reliable and not suck my precious time, have free charging stations all over the country, last a long time, and be powered by energy that is generated through solar panels, and created by my personal hero and aspiration: Elon Musk. It’s not a vanity thing, I swear. It just makes sense. If I want to be in the safest car possible, to protect my brain and my body from accidents, which is ultimately vital to the improvement of mankind, because it’s all that much harder to change the world when your vehicle (i.e. body has been damaged), then I would want a safe car. As of now, the best option on the market is the Tesla.
Behind able to accelerate quickly is also a safety feature. If I am in an instance where acceleration and steering control helps me avoid an accident, or even improved deceleration, then I am going to be best served driving a Tesla. The white keeps it cool in the summer, maybe it’ll keep me cool too.
To be continued…
Also published on Medium.