Monday, October 09, 2006

Bad Car Karma

Had an interesting weekend walking places. Both cars are ill. Here's the story:

(BACKGROUND on the story: We have 2 cars from the 90's: a BMW and a Ford. The BMW was "my" car and the Ford was Ryan's. We plan to replace the Ford in early '07 but are trying to keep it going a few more months. The BMW gets about 25 mpg and the Ford gets something like 11, so we switched cars since I'm not driving much. However, on Thursday the garage door opener was broken so the Ford was trapped and I took the BMW.)

Thursday night was driving back from work with the BMW when "splat!" something wet and sticky on the windsheild. Thought at first someone threw a water balloon. I was almost home. At the last light, I noticed the engine temp was in the red. So I babied it down the street and parking in the front parking spot before the red zone(already anticipating a tow and wanting to leave room). The splat had been coolant.

Called my dad, he told me it could be a simple problem of a hose coming off, which I could fix myself. He talked me through it. Sure enough, I could see the errant hose, right in front. Got it back on and decided to add the coolant in the daytime. Ryan took the Ford to work and we agreed I would add coolant to the BMW.

Next day, I went to add coolant and took what I thought was a jug of antifreeze out there. Good thing I have seen coolant before and knew what it should look like. It was used motor oil! So, just put water in instead. Got Lauren loaded in the car and head out to Hollywood for dinner with some friends in town from Italy. Was bemoaning the excesive traffic on Venice Blvd. Had only gone about 1 1/2 miles in 20 minutes. Suddenly the car went into red again and I U-turned (figuring it's illegal but a cop would excuse it since I might otherwise obstruct traffic pretty badly) and pulled over. Let it cool off a bit, added some water and noticed it was coming out someplace. Decided to baby the car and mostly coast, from the 1 hour parking spot where I was, to a big large parking lot 1 block ahead. Pulled in there and left the car.

Loaded Lauren into the umbrella stroller and began the walk home. Ryan was out at a movie. Figured I was already dressed, hungry and would be too tired to go the whole way back without food, so stopped at La Dijoinaisse for dinner. Got a few odd looks, a single woman and baby eating by themselves. Also, couldn't order the Crepes Florentine because they are "not doing spinach" at the moment. But had an overcooked vegetable quiche which gave me enough energy to go the rest of the mile home.

The next morning, Ryan drove over to get my valuables out of the car, and on the way there, he'd gone about 1 block when white smoke started pouring out of the FORD! :( Needless to say, he was not handling it well. I called Wallid, his mechanic who happened to be open on a Saturday. Before this, I didn't know Wallid would also work on BMWs, I usually bring it to a place in Venice. Anyway, Wallid agreed to take a look at both cars, and said the Ford would be okay to drive there if Ryan agreed to pull over if it overheated.

So, our good friend Alex came over with his wife's car with a carseat, and followed Ryan over to the mechanic's and drove him back home. Then we all drove over to the BMW and called a flatbed tow truck to tow it to Wallid's.

The verdict: The Ford blew a headgasket and is not worth repairing. We can drive it short distances but have to keep adding water and make sure it doesn't overheat. And we need to prepare for its imminent approaching demise.

The BMW's hose came off because a piece of the radiator had broken off, so it needs a new radiator. $420 later, it will be ready this afternoon. Ryan has taken the Ford to work, agreeing to stop halfway and rest and add water. Let's all cross our fingers for him!

Although it was bad luck to have both cars go out at once, on the other hand, in some ways it couldn't have happened at a better time. It was the weekend. We had to miss a friend's surprise party, but other than that, we had nothing pressing going on. Since it's not a Thursday, I didn't need to be at my office. We can walk to everything we need. So if we need to be a one-car family for a few months, we can do it. And I would rather wait and save a bit more and get a nicer car. NEVER another Ford! (All of the problems would take another long boring post)


jenna! said...

Yeah, best to walk away from the Taurus. Speaking from personal heartache, er, experience, when they go bad, they really go. I think a blown head gasket is a pretty good hint that its time for a "new" car.

digital janitor said...

Sounds like it's time to get Ryan something reliable and boring like a Camry or an Accord. Bummer about the BMW - that radiator neck breaking off is one of those "they all do that" things about BMWs of that vintage.