Car Repairs – Winter 2008

December 27th, 2008 by Potato

Well, I had another $315 in car repairs this week. A connection halfway down the exhaust “rotted out” causing exhaust to leak out and the car to make a hellish noise. After driving in it for over 2 hours on the way home for the break I had a killer headache and was ready to throw up. I don’t know how the ricers/bikers do it. Anyway, all fixed up now, and it’s even quieter than it was before. Just before the new year too, so that brings this year’s total to ~$1200.

Then the oxygen sensor trouble code came back. Once again I’ve cleared the check engine light with my scangauge — the problem seems intermittent so I don’t see the need for another costly exhaust system repair just yet. It could also be unrelated to the actual sensor, and instead be an electrical problem. I got a call last week from the dealership asking me to take my car in for a recall. “Who the heck put out a recall on a 12-year-old-car?” I wondered. Turns out the recall is from 1998, so my car must have somehow missed getting repaired. Don’t know why it never came up as an issue in their computer before, though perhaps they’re just using the free recall work as a way to get me in so I’ll buy something else (other maintenance or perhaps a new car) in this slow economy. The recall relates to a wiring harness that can cause shorts in the electrical system, and I’m thinking hey, that power window won’t work because of a short in the electrical system 3 years ago that they couldn’t fix… d’oh! Looking up the recalls for my car I found another for the lower ball joints in the suspension that apparently can wear out prematurely; it was the front lower ball joints that I had to have repaired last week… I wonder if I can get any portion of that covered if the recall work was never done? This is also a good point for any used car buyers out there: we bought this car when it was 3 years old, and I have no idea if we ever checked for any outstanding recalls. I think we just assumed that that would have been covered by the safety inspection. Obviously it can’t hurt to check… but I have no idea how one would actually go about doing that. A CarFax type report might say, but I think those are more accurate for US cars than Canadian ones; the manufacturer might have a record of recall work done under warranty, and failing that a good mechanic might be able to tell you by inspection (along with a list of the recalls).

I also replaced my wiper blades again. I had done it in October, but they’re just terribly streaky, which is unacceptable in this weather. I don’t know what it is with those Canadian Tire teflon blades — they just don’t cut it, despite the fact that CT seems to think that they’re the top-of-the-line ones (or at least that’s how they’re priced and displayed). I’ve always had much better results from the CT aero-something ones (the ones that are “curved for your modern windshield” and feature the silly little flaps that press them against the windshield at high speeds). Of course, I haven’t been able to find the aero-whatevers my last few trips to CT, which is why I got the teflon ones in the first place. So this time I replaced them with the reflex ones — the kind that are just the thin piece of bent metal with the rubber blade glued on. They wipe fantastic and I’m much happier now, even knowing that I wasted $25 replacing the wipers early; it was money well spent for a lot less aggravation/lot more visibility behind the wheel. I have been avoiding those reflex type wipers for a while because I got one set when they first came out and after about 3 months the glue holding the blade on to the curved piece of metal gave out and the wiper broke. I’m really afraid of that happening again — so afraid that I’m carrying around my old wiper in the trunk just in case. I really do love how well they work when they’re in one piece, but it would help my piece of mind a lot if CT put a clip or two in to help hold the rubber on, since the wipers do face a lot of forces in extreme temperatures and I just don’t know how well that glue will hold up.

So speaking of money well spent for winter driving: snow tires = win. I found myself out driving around Toronto earlier this week with a good 3-4 cm of wet snow on the roads, including the 404. It was enough snow that pretty much everybody was realizing it was not the time for stupidity and was driving sanely; even on the highway the fastest car was only going about 60 km/h. Along Sheppard, from the 404 to Bayview, there were 3 disabled cars. One was left abandoned in the middle of the road on the eastbound hill up towards Don Mills. I know that if I was in my all-seasons from a few years ago in that I would have been sliding around at least a little and my wheels would have been spinning every time I would have had to start up from a stop, no matter how sanely I tried to drive. With the winters I was in control the whole time, though I’d still rather avoid that kind of weather if I can, so that is easily money well spent. Fuel consumption of course takes a hit in winter. The weather has been too variable to really tell if the “winter front” is doing any good, even with the instrumentation of the scan gauge, but considering the pipe insulation cost $1.47 (it cost me more in gas to get to Home Depot than the pipe insulation did!) it really doesn’t have to save much to be worth it. As a tip remember that you don’t need the cabin to be warm to drive: just start the car and drive off slowly… unless you can’t see, in which case idle as long as you please until the windshield clears!

One Response to “Car Repairs – Winter 2008”

  1. Ben Says:

    I had the same exhaust issue with my car this summer. It kind of snuck up on me though, I guess the hole got bigger and bigger slowly, so it took me while to realize what my car actually sounded like…Cost a few hundred bucks to fix, luckily they just cut the piece with the hole out and welded in a new one, rather than replacing the whole thing.