Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cars and I Don’t Get Along Too Well

I hate cars. Even more, I hate red Saturns. Okay, so that is kind of harsh. I don’t have my lovely little Edna. But she is cantankerous, just like her cousin the Red Roller Skate.

They are the only cars I have ever owned and both have had major issues. I’m hoping that those things are now behind us, because I’m done paying boatloads of money for silly things like valve replacements and such.

You can see all the fun issues I’ve had recently here. It seems that cars and I don’t get along.

When Dad died, Mom decided that she didn’t need the extra car that he drove and that since my car was older, she’d pass it along to me. That meant my brother took my older Saturn coupe when his car was totaled in a wreck. We did the big car switch-eroo and finally got everyone in an appropriate car.

Then, in January, the beautiful 2006 Saturn Ion that Mom gave me seemed to be having issues shifting. I took it in to the repair shop that a friend recommended and told them that the check engine light is on and it’s having issues shifting around 15-20 mph.

Two weeks and a snow storm later, I got my lovely car back. Sharing a car with Husband was difficult but worth it when they replaced the valve at the bottom of cylinder 1. Apparently, they had to re-machine the part in order to get it to work.

In the process, though, the machine shop put the cylinder head on the wrong way. So when the repair shop tested it after the valve replacement, it died on the highway. Back to the machine shop for another fix it went. This time, they got everything on the right way and my pretty little red car came back to me.

It was so nice to have two cars again! I’m not sure we could handle our schedules if we only had the one car. We’re just two very busy people for that!

All was going well for a few days, but when Mom came into town for her birthday, we were having some issues with the timing again. Then the check engine light popped on. There was a definite rattling noise coming from under the hood – and then the oil light came on. At that point, the rattling noise turned into a huge rumbling and made the car sound like a diesel engine. Something was NOT right. Husband checked the oil and there was hardly any on the stick when he pulled it out of the engine. Oh dear.

Right back to the car repair shop we went. Bob, the general manager, was sort of disappointed to see me – wouldn’t you be too? I was the frustrating customer whose car seems to keep having problems.

The reason the car had the rattling noise and then the bigger nosie later on was the cam shaft actuator had broken – hence the sound effects going on under the hood. Bob took care of that for me as a warranty repair and I was on my way again. He asked me to stop in next week, just so they could make sure everything was fixed properly and we were actually done with the whole thing.

The next weekend I brought in the car like they asked and mentioned that there was still white smoke coming out of the tailpipe, like it was still burning oil. There wasn’t any leaks from where I parked it, so I wasn’t sure what was going on.

At this point, I asked Bob if I could have a rental car – because I can’t afford to share a car anymore!

After almost a week in the shop, we finally got our answer. We think it relates to the machine shop and all the valve work – when they did that replacement, and put the cam shaft top on incorrectly, it messed up the timing and caused some of the valve guides to bend and when that happens, the whole engine can be messed up.

We have new valves, new valve guides, new cam shaft actuator and tops. Those may not be the technical names. But they’re new. And the car is fixed. And I don’t ever want to go back to a car repair shop again.

Can you tell I’m not an automotive expert? I don’t understand many of the things that went wrong with the car but I’m glad that someone can understand and fix it for me!


  1. Dang, that's a lot of work for a little car. I'm glad everything is fixed and working now! :)

  2. man I always had bad luck with cars, so when I got preggo I bought a camry with is super reliable and I'm so happy I did! Hope you get things worked out soon, sharing a car is no bueno :)

  3. Girl I think you need to become BFF's with a mechanic and save yourself some money and sanity... Neither M nor I is any good with cars... So we just hope ours continues to be a good little car, at least through law school! *knock on wood*

  4. Man - that sounds rough! Car stuff drives me batty because I always feel like I'm getting the wool pulled over my eyes! Glad you got everything worked out in the end.

  5. Oh goodness... I HATE car issues. HATE. The car I have now is the first car I've had that wasnt constantly in the shop with something I didnt understand. There was a time I wanted to even take an automotive class to save money and also speak the lingo...haha.. seriously. I didnt do it but still.

  6. Ugh I abhor car troubles -- I don't understand all the technicals around automotives. All I know is when something goes wrong it's usually very expensive. ;)

  7. What a bummer! That must be so annoying. I've had my 2004 Honda Civic for almost seven years now and I've never had a bit of trouble with it. It's the third civic I've driven in my life and they've all been extremely reliable. If you're in the market for a car in the future, I'd recommend the civic.