Monday, September 13, 2010

I Still Think Duct Tape Woulda Worked

I kinda, sorta, a little bit forgot about renewing the registration for my van. Actually, I didn't totally forget, but I've been waiting for my ex to sign the paperwork to transfer the title to my name per our divorce agreement. He refused to sign it the first couple times I asked and well, now he just doesn't have time to get around to it, I guess. I'm sure he's very busy what with not working or taking care of any kids and all.

Anyway, I finally decided to just get the registration and worry about transferring the title later. So, I went to my local currency exchange and made a lame explanation as to why I hadn't taken care of my registration before now. The guy behind the bullet-proof window with the tiny mail slot told me, "My girlfriend left me for another girl, my son's in jail, and my cat was just run over. I don't really care why you didn't renew your registration on time. It's not my concern if you're a deadbeat and a menace to society, just give me your registration card."

"Ok then," I said as I slid the card under the thick glass separating this guy from the degenerate thugs like me.

He punched a couple numbers in his computer and uninterestedly informed me that I couldn't take care of my registration until I'd passed the emissions test. Great. Remember way back before I went to North Carolina and the service engine soon light was on? I was all concerned that my car would spontaneously combust or something if I drove across the country. Everyone reassured me that it was just the catalytic converter and it wouldn't affect anything until I had to pass the emissions test. So, here it was, several weeks later and the light was still on. I ran over to the testing station anyway just to see if I could pass.

I pulled up and asked the emissions guy, "My service engine soon light is on, can I still have the car tested now or do I need to have this fixed first?"

"I have to test your car or I'll get fired," Mr. Happy Pants replied.

Slightly confused, I asked, "So I can get it tested now even though this light is on?"

"Your check engine light is on," the guy stated the obvious.

"You've been inhaling emissions a little too long, haven't you?" I surmised.


"I said, go ahead and test my car please."

"I have to test it or I'll get fired," he repeated.

I made a mental note to suggest a job with the Air Team for Austin if he continues to get bad grades this year.

The guy completes the test and calls another guy over who tells me that my car can't pass because the light is on. (Yeah, kinda like I said when I first pulled up here?!)

So, I whined to my friend Doreen that I didn't know where to go because I've never had to take my car to a shop. I'll give my ex credit for that - he could fix anything on my car. She told me that one of her best friends owns a shop and he's a good, honest guy, and blah blah blah.

Why must car-fix-it-shops open so freaking early and close so freaking early? Why can't there be shops that don't open until afternoon and stay open all night? It would make life so much easier. But noooo, this shop opened at 7:30AM. So, after a whopping three and a half hours of sleep, I had to get up and wake my three youngest. My friend, Eric, followed us to the shop, I dropped off my car, and he drove us home. My kids only crushed half a dozen donuts into his upholstery. (Sorry about that.)

I went home, walked my kids to school, walked back home, then wandered around my house aimlessly because I was without a car. I mean, I didn't have any errands I had to run. I didn't have any appointments scheduled for today. I had nowhere I had to be. But still, I was without a vehicle should the need to go get donuts or something suddenly arise. I found that very disconcerting.

The mechanic called soon after I got back home. I believe he said, "Ha ha ha, hooo boy, you're gonna need to take out a loan to pay this bill! It'll be $920 for a new catalytic converter."

I said, "Only $920? Awesome! I'll take two!" Then I tried not to throw up. "Seriously? I need a whole new one? Can't you just duct tape it or something? Staples! Oooo! I know! Gorilla Glue! Can't you just glue it or something? Maybe it's not the catalytic converter. Maybe I just need an oil change or a car wash or something? How do you know it's the catalytic converter?" I don't know why I suggested these things. Like this guy, who went to school to learn how to repair cars, is going to take the "duct tape" advice from some weirdo babbling nutjob.

"Look lady, do you want us to fix your car, or not?"

"I guess I don't have a choice, do I? Go ahead," I sighed, defeated.

Why do expenses all pile up at the same time? COBRA payments, emergency room visit, surgery, and now this, all while my ex isn't working. (You know, because I wrote this, my furnace or something is now going to explode.)

So, fast forward to when my dad drove me to pick up my car. I looked at the mechanic and said, "Let me ask you something. If I lived in a state that didn't require emissions testing, would I eventually need this part replaced, or would my car drive just fine and I'd never know the difference?"

He said, "Your car would be fine. You'd never know the difference."

What's worse than paying huge amounts of money on car repairs is paying huge amounts of money on car repairs that you don't really need! I'll stop using hairspray to do my part in controlling air pollution, just let me keep my stupid broken catalytic converter!

Help Dawn pay for a stupid car part. Pre-order her new book


~Jenn said...

I went through the same thing with my car. The check engine light was on for probably a year or two before I had to get my car smogged. It wasn't a problem until I had to smog the car and it's an automatic fail if the light is on. I learned a nifty trick though- go on ebay and buy a car code reader for your car. Then you can get the trouble code then google it, so you know why the light is on before you take the car in. I learned this after $1000 in repairs for a $100 fix on my first car (they said it was a cat converter and it wasn't, it was an O2 sensor, they charged me for the cat converter and didn't replace it- just the 02 sensor). Good luck!

Losing Brownies said...

That stinks so bad. It all seems to happen all at once right? Our hospital bills are starting to come in from my son's birth and my horrible infections afterwards and then one of our cars needed to be repaired. It's like the car knows just when it needs to break.

Autumn said...

Check the junk yards!! Call local salvage yards, they may have the part, in good enough shape to last another few years!!

It will cost WAY LESS than that!!

I've had 4 or 5 "clunkers" that we managed to make last this way!!

Sorry everything happened "at once" :(

Brianna said...

You need to move to Indiana...its just a hop skip and a jump from you(or you know, just a regular trip in which you get lost). We don't have emissions testing here.

WeaselMomma said...

Isn't this always the way? Maybe moving is the way to go.

Amy said...

We have emissions testing here too. I'm sure its great for the environment. It's also great for lining mechanics pockets during this economy to repair things that aren't really necessary....

Andrea said...

Hey, Dawn!

I literally just went through the exact same thing! I had to have a new CC put in my van and it is only 5 years old. Do you know why the part is so expensive? Well, it is because they use, get this, PLATINUM as the catalyst! (Yes, I am an engineer so I studied internal combustion engines in college- yikes!) Do you know why all those "Cash for Gold" stores have sprung up lately? it's because prices for precious metals like gold and platinum are THROUGH THE ROOF! I read a couple of years ago that thieves were cutting CC's out of cars exhaust systems in parking lots and selling them for scrap metal. Well, the state of Illinois now requires proof of ownership when you go to sell a CC so that has stopped but I think the repair shops have caught on and are now replacing CC's so they can earn extra money. Not only is the repair expensive but when they go to sell the CC for scrap the part is worth about $150. I think they should take this off your bill since it is a freebie for them. I was very skeptical at first too when they told me the light was on because of my CC, but what can you do if you don't know how to really tell if your CC needs to be replaced or not. Anyway, I got mine done at Discount Muffler for $560 when the dealer quoted me over $900. I would definitely challenge them on the scrap value of the part and ask for them to refund that to you since you own the original part. Just a suggestion.

Hope this ends your string of expensive issues.

Andrea from Crystal Lake

Sara said...

You get points for knowing it's "duct" tape and not "duck" tape though!

Jennifer said...

Or you could just put a piece of black electrical tape over the light. It blends right in.

Donna said...

I feel so bad for you !
And I would think your 'X' would have helped you but if he doesn't want to see his own kids I guess he doesn't care at all anymore.
That is just too sad !!!

Anyway, my son who is now 35 yrs old has always told me to get the parts they take off my car. Now I know why... they can be sold to junk yards and gives you alittle money back for the repairs you did have to pay out.

And I might not go anywhere but let that car be broke down and in a repair shop I just walk around too as I feel I have to have it right now ! Then when I do get it back I let it sit in the garage again.... it must be just the thought of 'What if I need it'.

Jenn said...

Not only would your van run just fine without the CC... it would probably get better gas mileage.

Rebecca Clerc said...

I found the answer to why everything happens at once when I read dave Ramsey's book. He explains that it is all about Murph'y Law--you probably have a house guest (Murphy)and didn't even know it! Sorry for your troubles, seriously considering ordering your book, I would just need a few reassurances that it is not a laugh-so-hard-that-I-pee-my-pants kind of book. I have had 4 kids and I am sure you know what that means concerning my bladder control, also my make-up runs easily, can you see how your blog and book might have negative affects on me?? <3

bearhugg said...

I told you, should have let me try the hammer and duct tape method first ;) It's one thing to take a car with a noticable problem in and get it fixed, and be all happy when the rattle-rattle-thunder-clatter is gone, but to spend that kind of money and the only noticable difference is the check engine light is off.. there's just no satisfaction in that!! In other words, IT SUCKS!!

Brianna and WeaselMomma, bite your tongue! ;)


I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You ~Ron

Christina Van Norman said...

Why can't you just pull the fuse on the light to make it go out?

Mayberry Mom said...

My hubby's family is in MN and they said the best thing Jesse Ventura (you know the WRESTLER that was governor ;o) did was get rid of emissions testing. Emissions levels did not change in all the years they required it, so he got rid of the whole process. I wish WI would follow suit. it's such a pain in the butt.

Mayberry Mom said...

Sorry for commenting twice. But I was thinking~next time ask them how much it would cost to break the light bulb on the warning light so that you could go pass the test LOL

Francesca Fine Jewelry said...

Didn't your ex work for the city in the school system? If so, did he get a pension? Because if he had a pension, then you are entitled to half because of QADRO. I am in CT and I will get half of my ex's pension if he quits, gets fired, or retires. He works for the city. Did your lawyer include QADRO in the divorce? I did my registration last month. Mine was also late. I had to do the emmisions too. Then everyone in my state is charged for something called the Clean Air Act. If we have to do emmisions, why do we pay extra for the Clean Air Act? I asked at Motor Vehicles, and the woman said "Who knows." They are so chipper there. We also have to pay car taxes once a year or they come around and disable the car by putting a boot on it. Fun fun fun.

Golden To Silver Val said...

You know what I don't understand? If they do all this emission testing for the purpose of saving the environment....then why isn't it done nation-wide? Do they think that the state/s next to you who do NOT require it redirect their faulty air contributions to the universe to go underground? Its just to make money and I was glad when they quit doing it in my state. Also...ask for your old part (they should give it to you by law) and then go sell it and recoup some of your money. Sorry this happened to you....but at least you won't have to worry about THAT particular problem again for a while. Keep your chins up sweetie!

Ellie said...

I feel you on this one. My car (just 4 months ago I went through this) would not pass the state inspection. I put it off until I was issued a $200 ticket from a super "friendly" cop. Then it would not pass and what do you know, the engine light that had been going on and off for the past year happened to be on at this time. I took it to a mechanic, who I paid $350 to fix a problem that doesn't even affect how my car drives. It was totally unnecessary except for passing the computer part of the inspection. Arrggg. Really pissed me off!

Marvelous Mommy said...

OMGosh!! That guy was a jerk to tell you he had to do the test or he would get fired. That's bull! Most of the time they will tell you your car won't pass bc the light is on. They know from the start it's an automatic failure if that light is on!!

SSOOO glad we just moved to a county that doesn't require emissions testing so I don't even have to worry about it any more!

V1nce said...

My car's a/c compressor just went out and I was all happy when I saw the part was like $200. Then they told me they have to replace this this this this this and pay $695!

I can't afford it so I have my windows open and with that I can't hear my radio and it's 96 degrees outside which sucks!


Oh wait, this is Dawn's blog not mine.

That sucks, Dawn!

(forget all the rest of my post)

brent said...

Go on ebay and get the CC for pennies on the dollar or Take it off, Beat it, Pour out what rattles, put it back on, reset the light and you pass. The CC doesn't make the air any cleaner, just different!!

Jennifer Foster said...

DONE! Preordered. Doing my part to fund catalytic van at a time :)


JDub said...

FYI- You don't have to move out of state, just further south. The emissions testing is a Chicago thing, not an Illinois thing.

Sorry for your troubles. Remember: if money can fix it, it's not really a problem.

Que said...

That's really funny! The story, I mean. Not the circumstance. I had the same problem here a few years back. The minimum quote I got on my car was $2500. And that was if there there weren't any problems. But they said they saw a few problem areas. So basically I sold the car. It was going to cost more to fix than it was worth.

Sheila said...

So I know this is days old but I hope our story will make you feel a bit better about your car repair. A few months ago, we just closed on our house and was pulling out of the driveway with the last of our things loaded up. Now the car has been serviced and we're gearing up to make the drive from TN to OK. And all of a sudden, the car sounds like it has rocks shoved up underneath it. My dear hubby says "it's just the converter, it'll be fine". Okay, so now we're on the interstate running 70 when all of a sudden I hear the sound of loud whooshing air. I'm freaking because I think we've blown a tire and my hubby is yelling at me to stop the car (yea right). Anyway, long story short, the converter clogged up which blew a hole in my exhaust when I went to accelerate to pass a car on the interstate. Now there's some debate as to if the car would have finished the drive and I did drive it for a bit but then I felt the car do a shudder so we ended up renting a car and loading ours onto a trailer to our moving truck! So you just never know! And yes, we paid dearly for the repairs!

Winona said...

Another reason why I'm now in Ohio and not (the Chicagoland and metro-East side of St. Louis parts of) Illinois.

Dan.Eliot said...

I'm so glad I drop by your blog. I'm a Single mom of 2 and I really find your blog interesting!

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