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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Car Trouble, Know What I'm saying?

I rarely hear people talk about cars in a positive light. Even my brother, a gear head, is always cursing his latest pet project as it drops him further and further into debt.

Sure, we can get around more easily. The car allows us to travel to different cities, see all the sites, not have to sit next to disgusting strangers on a bus. The suburbs are even designed around the idea that you will have a car to get from point A to B. There's no way you could walk around in the burbs and do most of your errands.

I'd kill to just have a nice subway/light rail system that could get me to anywhere. Unfortunately, the closest Metrolink stop is 4 miles from my house, and even then, it doesn't go far enough to St. Charles for it to matter most the time. That was my favorite part of Britain, there was always a public transportation answer to anywhere we needed to go.

Then there's the dreaded plate renewal. The time where everyone curses at their cars the most. It's a time where the godless find God and pray that their car is going to pass. It requires you to see mechanics (who I don't trust) and go to the DMV. (Who no one likes)

Sallie and I are going through that right now.

So we thought we'd be proactive and take the car to a place two weeks ago that could do both the inspection and emissions. We left it with them for a good hour and a half and when we returned, they had a laundry list of things they wanted us to fix. I stared at the grease covered man that refused to make eye contact with me as he read down the list.

- Swaybar is busted - $110 - A legit fix
- Side view mirror has a crack - $80 or go to a glass place and get a new one cut
- Battery - $120 - This was laughable. I can get a battery for $70 and put it in within 10 minutes.
- Failed emissions because they couldn't hook the computer up to the OBD connection - $300 just to fix the connector. That's not to pass emissions, just to fix the connector so they could run emissions.

I don't like Dane Cook, but he was pretty spot on here.

We felt like we were getting screwed.

So, I called Nick. He said he probably can fix the sway bar and OBD connection, and if we got a mirror cut, he could fix that.

So we waited a week for when Nick was off next, went and bought a sway bar from O'Reillys, and drove out to St. Chuck. Nick couldn't fix the sway bar because it was rusted, but he did save us $300 when he found out that the OBD connection was fine, just needed to be reseated.

Went to an emissions place in St. Chuck and they were able to get a reading this time, but they failed us because the check engine light is on and its a manufacturer's code, so they can't do anything to fix it.

So we're already out about $75, haven't actually gotten anything accomplished or fixed and now we have to go to the dealership to get this code read.

Sallie is taking another day off work to do this. We've decided at this point, we've wasted too much time. We're going to pay whatever ransom they hold our car at, get it fixed, and get new tags.

Usually, I think people are too dumb to take care of themselves, but this is one of the few times where I think there needs to be much less government. In this situation, a quick safety inspection and updated insurance should get your plates renewed. Emissions, personal property tax receipts, this running around to no less than 3 different places is ridiculous. The brief time I lived in Columbia, where you don't need emissions test, was fantastic. Everything was taken care of in two places, and we were done.

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