A couple of weeks ago, I went downtown to the store. I came out and my car was dead. "Oh great, I left the lights on," I thought and immediately started down the list of my kids trying to figure out which one might be able to rescue me. Of the 6, I came up with 0.
Plan B. Call the mechanic."Hey, can you come downtown and jumpstart my car?" Out of the goodness of his heart, he came downtown when it was close to 90 degrees and rescued me.
The second time the car wouldn't start, I thought, I probably need to get a new battery since I couldn't remember when the last time was that I had bought one. I drove to the car parts place, shut off the car, and went into the store. (I have a feeling the car parts place is going to be on my list of places that I need to go a lot in the future to keep my almost 20 year old car running.)
"Hi, I need a battery for my car." "What year is it?" asked the guy that I now know is Sam. I looked at the notes on my phone. "It's a 2002 Lexus," gave him the model number and I was so proud of myself for knowing that he was going to ask that. He gets the battery out of the back, begins to ring it up and I realize that I forgot my debit card, now feeling not so proud of myself for forgetting that. I go back out to the car, retrieve my card, and return to pay for the battery. Fortunately, Sam was kind enough to take it to the car and install it.
As he starts to replace it, I notice that in 3 days the warranty will expire. So I mention that. Sam says, "Just a minute, let me go and get something." He returns with a tool to test the battery. "It's not the battery he says, it's the alternator." He lugs the battery back into the store, refunds my money and orders an alternator.
I return to the car, which of course won't start. I go back into the store, I didn't have to say a word, "Your car won't start," Sam chuckles and grabs his battery charger. The next day I return to pick up my new alternator. Normally, I'd go to my regular mechanic guy, but the silly guy is so popular that he was booked two weeks out. Since it's hard to go anywhere to report without a car, I did what anyone does nowadays, I got on Facebook and said, "Help!"
Fortunately, my cousin's-wife's-brother bailed me out. "If you can bring it out to the farm, he will put it in for you," she said. So, not trusting it to make the trip I call for backup and have an escort. We make it to the farm, and I ask him if he can also put my new wipers on from two trips earlier to the car parts place. "Sure," he says. Then I realize how happy I'll be to be able to see out of my windshield even better. To say I was relieved was an understatement. Fortunately, I hadn't needed the car, but would desperately need it for work that weekend.
That night, I get a message. "Your serpentine belt is cracking and has chunks out of it. Do you want him to replace it too?" my cousin's wife asks. "Might as well," I answer. "We'll bring it to your house tomorrow she said. I was thinking before she called that it was probably going to be time to start replacing those.
The next day arrives with the delivery of my car. It ran fine for him. Ran fine for me, then the battery light came on. "Casey," the standby mechanic whom I now know well, "help!" Casy frantically googles. My radio is now wonky. I'm thinking, "What in the world?" I thought. Then the battery light goes off for a while, but it comes back on. I needed to return the old alternator to the car parts place anyway, so I pull in and return it and mention to Sam that the battery light was on.
Sam checks the battery again, "NOW you need a battery, the alternator took it out. Don't worry, you're good," says Sam. The new battery is safely installed, but the battery light is still on. "Don't worry," says Sam, sometimes they have to reset themselves." A bit skeptical because I trust the dashboard lights on THIS car I leave. It's the first car that has been pampered worse than anyone has pampered a car...well, until I got it. So I knew that everything was probably working properly. But I'm NOT a mechanic, thus the need for Sam and Casey to bail me out.
So I leave the car parts place. As I get home, the radio fades and the lights dim. I now have the car parts place on speed dial. "Ring, ring! Hey Sam, it's Valerie again, guess what. My lights are fading..." "Oh no," says Sam, "bring it in." I leave the car running because I just know...Sam brings out the tester. "It's the alternator, it's bad. Let's go order you another one." I didn't shut off the car, because I had my daughter follow me, "just in case," and we go in to order another alternator. I thank Sam again and head home.
"Hey Casey, can you put ANOTHER alternator in?" I'm sure he rolled his eyes, but comes to the house and pops in the newest alternator. This time I pop the granddaughter in the car and we take it for a spin. It purrs like it's supposed to. I smile, we're back. The battery light is off, the radio isn't wonky. We return the second alternator and I'm sure as I walk out Sam said, "Finally, now I can get some work done!" Not really, but I'd give Arnold Motor Supply a thumbs up for their customer service, their patience and for their sense of humor in all of this. As I unbuckle the granddaughter she declares, "That was fun!" I guess cornfields flying by and the Gaither "bocal" band is right up her alley. But I agreed with her, I mean, I'm a simple gal, just give me wheels and I don't particularly care what kind they are, as long I can get from point A to point B.
I had another appointment scheduled with my regular car doctor at Red Shed for an oil change the following week. Well, you can guess how that went. "Hey, Val, how's your day going?" he asks. "I assume it was going good until you called, now what?" I ask. "You need brakes on the front of your car," he says. "Of course, I do," knowing that he told me I was getting close the last time I was in. "Go ahead and put them on," I say. "It will push getting it done until this afternoon if that's okay..." I figure it had better be or I'd run into someone because I didn't get the brakes taken care of.
So he replaces the brakes, and the car is now running AND stopping alright. I think. I'm eyeballing the tires now and thinking I should probably pop in and see Kip at John's Tires, it's been a while since I've pulled in and said, "Change 'em all!" But I don't wanna. My checking account is saying, "Can you wait a bit?"
As of a few days ago, I'm up and running. A new serpentine belt, new wipers, a rebuilt alternator, twice, new battery, new brakes, new oil, I won't jinx it with any more smart remarks. Here's to keeping the ol' 2002 going! She's a good car really. I might even treat her to a tank of the expensive gas next time, she's been through a lot. I don't know though I heard today is $1 more a gallon than it was last year.
So here's to another few thousand miles and routine oil changes, hopefully.