20 February 2021

2021: A Bricked Cube's Odyssey

Since about last week when the weather was getting especially cold, my car's been struggling a little. You'd practically floor it and it would hobble forward a bit, just a smidge above idling.
Seemed simple enough a solution: let it warm up a little. After all, a few minutes or miles would go by and everything would be good. Yes, warming a car for 20-30 minutes is a bit excessive (and the more I look into it, unnecessary), but an unprecedented cold snap sounds like the right kind of desperate time for a desperate measure. 

A few days ago, my car kicked back a trouble code, one I'd seen before. It's for the transmission. Last time it kicked on, all I had to do was change my transmission fluid and the light went off. That was a few months ago, nowhere near the 30,000 miles when you're supposed to change it out anyway. The trouble code in question (P0744) mentioned the torque converter, a rather fascinating fluid coupling seems to either be a reasonably priced part or so inordinately expensive it literally costs more than the car did when it was new.

Fast forward to this morning when the problem seemed to take on a new form (or possibly revealed its true form), despite letting the car warm up, acceleration was simply non-existent. I could maybe get a quick burst before momentum ran out. It was odd because if I put the car in neutral and then pushed the pedal, there was obvious revving. However, after letting it sit for a few more minutes, even the revs stopped. The engine is clearly on and going, but it's as if the gas pedal has completely disconnected from the rest of the car. So, a possible transmission problem (which may or may not be weather-affected) has now expanded to anything and everything from a bad fuel pump to a bum throttle sensor to a gunky fuel filter to injection issues. 

It's sitting in front of my neighbor's house because that's as close to the driveway as I could get it (it's not in their way or anything, so no problem, though I'll be keeping them appraised of the situation) before the pedal stopped responding altogether. As we approach midday, I could well give it a try and see about getting it back into the driveway, which could be easy enough as I could go in reverse the entire way, and that gear's been surprisingly reliable throughout this whole affair. 

The shop I took it to a few weeks ago to fix a rattle in the exhaust is not open on weekends. My roommate's brother may come by to take a look, but I'm likely going to have to try and work out some other way to get to work for at least the next few days. I have a fair number of days off to use up, but that's not the whole problem. I hate taking time off work because the longer someone spends not working, the more time a company has to work out ways to do without them. However unfounded this fear may be (as I've been told by some of my superiors), I can't help it. I also hate taking time off work because I genuinely enjoy my job. I've been at it for over 10 years. 
Before that, I was pretty damn miserable, and what most certainly didn't help that misery was a previous car's fuel pump giving out while on my way back from out of town one weekend. This was a bad set of circumstances that set up many, many chains of dominoes, and my car suddenly dying out of the blue, steering and all, was the push. At the risk of sounding like a first world problem, this little incident from at least 12-13 years ago practically ruined my life. While I didn't miss that much work, the debt I accrued from simply trying to get back to where I was before the mechanical breakdown drove me to debt consolidation, which is no fun for anybody. 

Car troubles are also no fun for anybody, even the mechanics who literally profit from them. They not only have to deal with the car but with the driver too, and that can go either way. Sometimes I'll see the same handful of cars outside of shops each time I pass by for months on end and wonder how many of those are there because of some heated exchange ending with something along the lines of, "It's your problem now." The same goes for when I see an abandoned vehicle along the highway, like some kind of people-watching by proxy, if that makes sense. You can't help but wonder what went through someone's mind on that fateful day, if they were just having the worst day ever and this was one more damn thing or if this was the upset to an otherwise totally tolerable time.