Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Without Our Follow Car Again

So we’re in the LTVA (long term visitors area) in Winterhaven California.  We spent our first few days here in the lot of the solar place.  On Saturday they installed our new inverter.  It looks like our batteries are fine.  I think when we disconnected the fuse we screwed it up somehow, but now we have plenty of power to last us into the night.  The new inverter hook-up cost $80.  That was great.

What’s not so great is our Nissan Armada (the follow car).  We got a ‘Service Engine Soon’ light.  After ruling out a loose gas cap we went to Autozone to have them tell us the code and what the problem was (they do this for free, pretty sweet).  

We need a new catalytic converter.  Le sigh.  Fine.  We drove to the garage across the street to see about getting this done.  This is Alice Auto Repair in Yuma.  Can’t say I recommend them.  The guy made up some malarkey about us needing OEM parts and quoted $1,700.  When I claimed I didn’t have the money he suddenly decided we didn’t need OEM parts and went down to $1,200. 

I was pretty pissed.  You could see the dollar signs in his eyes.  And we expect to be ripped off at mechanics, but by one or two hundred bucks.  Not $500+.  I claimed I’d have to ask my brother for a loan, paid $35 for the quote and high-tailed it out of there.

Someone on Facebook said that I should go to an exhaust place for this kind of repair.  On Saturday I took the car to Meineke on 4th Ave in Yuma.  As I was driving there the car was not doing well.  I’d step on the gas and it would take a few seconds for it to actually go.  Every stop sign was a struggle for me to get moving again.  This was a 30 mile drive and I felt that if I couldn’t get the work done the same day I was going to be screwed.  I couldn’t manage another round trip. 

Meineke quoted me $350 over the phone, but my Nissan is a fancy expensive car and needed a fancy expensive catalytic converter.  I wasn’t surprised when they told me the part was going to cost more in the range of $600 and would take hours more labor than they anticipated.  This jived with what the last guy quoted me. 

What I didn’t expect was to walk under my car and see that my muffler was rusted out and clogged with carbon.  It’s supposed to be hollow, but when he knocked on it it sounded like it was stuffed full of crud.

So I need a new muffler too.  Yay.  I got quoted $1,400 for both repairs, labor, tax, etc.  Is that good?  I don’t know, but it’s still less than the first guy quoted me just for the catalytic converter.

More importantly, I barely got it there and I wasn’t about to start driving around trying to find another quote.  In fact—I wasn’t even going to drive it back to the campground.  That thing was staying there until it was fixed.

Since we’re going to Mexico I told her to do a full diagnostic and see if anything else needs to be repaired.  Then I installed Uber on my mom’s phone and got a ride back to the camp.  I’d never used it before.  I got a drive home with pleasant conversation and no complaint about making him go out to the middle of nowhere.  I’ll use this again if I need to in the future.

I explained to my mom that I had to leave the car there.  We agreed it was the best way to do it.  She had gotten our solar work done while I was gone and was happy to report it was only $80. 

Later on I hear the solar workers saying that the woman in the RV was waiting for her daughter to get back and couldn’t move the RV off their lot herself.  I yelled out the window that I was back.

“What?  How did you get home?”

“I took an Uber.”

“Wow!  You’re brave!”

What?  I didn’t feel brave.  I wasn’t sure if I was dealing with a technophobe or a sexist.

Anywho, I took the hint and moved the RV off their lot.  We dumped and got water, though before finding a spot to settle in.  No sense in moving it twice.  We’re parked a few hundred yards from the solar place because I wanted to be close in case anything they did for me wasn’t working.  This is also close to the Christian Service Center where we’re getting our mail forwarded.  It’s good to be in walking distance to stuff when you don’t have your follow car.

After the diagnostic, new tire rods, a leaky transmission line, an oil change, and a cracked power steering line added another $500 to our quote.  Ugh.  That’s $1,900.  But I don’t doubt the things they’re telling me.  It’s a ten year old SUV and the previous owners did not do routine upkeep.  Yes, we have to put money into it to keep it running well.  It’s better that than buying a new car.

Hopefully the work will be done by Thursday.  At that time I will see if this one guy who offered to give us a ride is still willing to do it, or I’ll call the guy who Ubered me the first time and see if we can work something out.  There’s no Uber in this remote area.

In the meantime, we’re stuck home.  We need groceries.  I’m stretching out the last of our food as best I can.  If we don’t have the car by Thursday we might have to go camp at a Walmart so we can get provisions while the work gets finished.

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