Tag Archives: car

With knobs on!

I was driving our van today, and as soon as I arrived and put the car in Park, the gear shift knob kind of exploded. The button at the side flew out of the handle, the interior spring followed suit, and then the knob fell off in my hand. What on earth??? I tried to get it back on, got my hand covered in glue that was on the shifter where the knob had been. Not good. KoD called the car dealership where we bought it, and I bounced over there, 5 kids in tow. (Yeah, we picked up an extra one on the way). The shifter works, it just needs a little finessing to get it to the right gear.

So we sat around the dealership for the best part of an hour, only to be told by the young upstart mechanic that there was nothing wrong with the knob and he finds it in perfect working order. I felt like taking him by the scruff of his neck and shaking him. Instead I politely disagreed with him, and asked him to take me to my vehicle so I could demonstrate just how wrong he was. The dude was sooo sure of himself. Ha! I showed him how that button widget thing sticks and doesn’t pop back out after the gear is changed. “Well, it didn’t happen like that for me” he says, pouting. Why would I bother wasting an hour of my time in a waiting room with 5 boys aged 8-14 if the thing wasn’t really broken? I mean, come on!!

Totally proved the guy wrong. Made him order the part. Thankfully it is under warranty. Meanwhile we have to manage with a sticky shift…I wonder what made it explode. Its not like I bench press 300 daily and don’t know my own strength. (Ok stop laughing, it isn’t that funny!)

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Ah the smell of the open road

Later today I pick up the Ford Focus or similarly sized car from the car rental place. The kids seem a lot more excited about it than I am. Maybe it’s because they are boys and I am so not a boy? They probably won’t even get to be driven in it! They asked me insane questions like how many miles to the gallon, does it have cruise control, what about remote start and mp3 player capability? Um, it drives from a to b and back again? What else do I need to know?

I spent hours this week researching and comparing prices and eventually I got an awesome deal. Unfortunately it isn’t FREE but a lot less than the prices I was originally quoted. Thank you all for the codes and suggestions. It would have been even less but the KoD was worried about me driving a tiny car on the windy highways and being buffeted around too much. So for him I went with something bigger. (What is it with men and cars? *shakes head*)

This drive will de very different from the last one, although, to be totally honest with you, I am still traumatized and scared to get behind the wheel. Logically I know that rental cars are newer and in much better shape than the DustBuster I was driving all these months. Rationally I know that if God-forbid something does happen, the rental company will sort me out. Emotionally I am scared / scarred. Every little noise is going to make me worry.

I haven’t driven a sedan in years. I am so used to driving minivans and SUVs and being higher on the road. I am a good driver and a safe one, and I know with God’s help I will be fine. I know once I have the border crossing behind me (are the Americans more prone to stopping people in rental cars? Or will I have less trouble this time?) and I hit the I-87 for the 2.5 hours stretch to Albany and thence to the thruway I will be less stressed and perhaps able to relax.

I am actually hoping it has cruise control. The DustBuster had it at one time, but never while I was driving it. It does make long distance driving and speeding ticket avoidance much easier. Oh and I am looking forward to being toasty warm the entire way and not being able to see my breath in front of me. Ah the things we take for granted these days.

All that being said, I cannot wait to see my KoD. It’s been eleven days since I last saw him and I miss him more than words could ever express. Let’s hope that today brings some positive immigration news.

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Goodbye to you my trusted friend

Well, the van is fixed. It’s no longer safe for highway driving. I don’t exactly understand what happened to it, other than some plug thing falling out and the engine overheating etc. It’s ok to use it for local stuff, but no longer highway worthy.

I will go pick it up at the garage today and bring it home, take my stuff out of it, and return it to my neighbour. He’s not going to be happy with me. He will worry how I will manage without a car. But I am not willing nor able to sink more money into a car that is not mine. I am not willing to drive such a rickety old car anymore. It served us very well and I will be forever grateful. But I am no longer prepared to take the risk anymore.

Luckily all the shops are local and there is great public transport and in a pinch I could always cab it. My friends that have cars have offered to help out too. Hopefully this is only temporary anyway because those visas will be coming soon (Do you hear me Uncle Sam?). I have looked into car rentals for when I have to drive down to NY – not cheap. I wondered if perhaps I could rent a car for a month and it would be cheaper. Nope.

It totally bites that I have a NEW town and country van parked in my garage in Monsey and I am stuck up here in Montreal without a car. Why is this? This will explain.

Having a car spells freedom for me. I love to get behind the wheel and just drive. Truth is though, at the moment, I feel like I never want to drive on the highway again, after what happened last week. The KoD and I will work it out with weekends etc – but again, hopefully we won’t have to do this for much longer.

I need more coffee.

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The Car, Oy the car….

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Car Woes

IMG00085I had made an appointment to take the borrowed car in this morning to check the oil and tires and all of that. It wasn’t very happy the last couple of days so I also wanted the mechanic to check that out too.

I decided to take my 14 year old son with me, much to his chagrin. He wanted to stay home and blow stuff up on the Wii.

Driving along, and the car decides it just doesn’t want to go over 40km an hour. We are on our way to the mechanic…it’s ok, we will put on the hazards and just go slow.

We get to a red light. Car decides “to heck with this driving crap, I aint moving and you can’t make me”. Stalls dead right at the light, line of cars behind us. I try to turn the engine over, it revs but doesn’t catch. Ok let’s not freak out here. I try again. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Bupkiss.

“Ima” says my smart just turned 14 year old son, “put the car in neutral and I will push it to the side of the road”. He’s a kid….and he wants to push the car? The kid managed it all on his own. Ima is so proud. He’s exhausted.

I called Mr CarMan and told him what happened. He called for a tow truck, told me it would be about an hour until they came. A half hour later he showed up with a few bottles of water and soda for us, it is a hot day after all. He is just the sweetest person.

But here is the insanity. He has a plan through some idiotic company that you can only make one call for roadside assistance per car per day. That means that if they were not able to boost the car’s battery and the car would have to be towed, they would have to wait till tomorrow to tow it. Yes, that would count as two calls, not one. Have you ever heard of such complete insanity? So he asked them to just tow it to the garage.

We waited TWO HOURS for the truck to show. We kept being told that it was stuck in traffic. Traffic? At 10 in the morning? When there is no freaking snow on the ground?? I call baloney!

So my son and I hung out with Mr CarMan waiting and chatting etc. Such a gentleman! Finally just before twelve o’clock the truck showed up. Attached the winch thingy to the car, pressed the button and put the car on the back of his truck. Mr CarMan took the little prince home, and I went in the truck with the tow truck driver.

The mechanic took the keys once the car was safely deposited, turned the ignition and of course he has the magic touch. The engine turned over fine. I told him my story. He told me I had to leave the car there and they would check her out.

So I am in the middle of Ville St Laurent and I figure I will walk to the metro station, hop on a train and then a bus and get home that way. As I was walking I thought I would stop by my old place of work and say hey to a friend. It wasn’t too far and I had been meaning to see this friend for a while. He tweeted me as I was walking towards his office that I could borrow his bicycle to ride home if I so wished. Long tight skirts are not really the right gear to be riding a bike with.

So I showed up at the office, and we hung out and caught up for a bit – it was really awesome to be able to do so. Perhaps that’s why the car broke down – so I could catch up with my buddy? One will never know, but I choose to see that silver lining. Ev – you are one heck of a cool dude and it was truly awesome to see you. Thanks for the excellent coffee and conversation.

I am now home, about a million hours behind schedule and suddenly it doesn’t matter that my kitchen isn’t clean. It will get done. After I take a nap. Maybe Mary Poppins will show up today? I can dream can’t I?

UPDATE – it’s a broken fuel pump. Claudio the mechanic is gonna fix her up and get her back to me. Yay!

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RED means what?

Please tell me why when the idiot runs a red light and almost knocks me over, she gives me the finger? How is it my fault that she doesn’t know the basics of driving? Wait a second, red light means stop ONLY if you are not having a phone convo with your bezzie mate and puffing on a coffin nail at the same time. If you are doing those things the highway code doesn’t apply to you! I guess I didn’t get that freaking memo.

PEOPLE – use ear pieces, blueteeth (tooths?), and keep your eyes on the road. It just takes a second of missed concentration for a lifetime of grief. I was lucky today – as a pedestrian and a driver I try to stay aware of my surroundings however I am moving. If I had been on my phone too, or distracted, I dread to think what could have happened. Thank you G-d for keeping me safe.

Car Tales

Just so that you know I am sitting on the floor in front of the SAAQ – the equivalent of the DMV, (not to be confused with the SAQ – alcohol society of Quebec), typing this on my laptop. It opens at 9.30, I have been here since 8.30 and am about tenth in line. Have to keep my spot. Everyone else is standing – my high heels are killing my back, plus I have important stuff to write.

 

Have you ever bought or leased a new car? What were the specifications you needed for it to have? Did you even care about half the stuff that the car salesman told you about?

 

The lease on my cherry red 2005 Chevy Venture is up at the end of the month, and I needed a replacement vehicle, obviously, what with 4 kids to ferry around and a lot of highway driving coming up in the next little while.

 

So while on honeymoon, in between visiting the schools in Monsey and stuffing our faces and doing husband / wifey stuff like groceries and laundry…. we were researching minivans. My criteria – low price AND ability to get me from A to B and back again without too many white knuckle moments. Oh yeah, and heated seats so my poor back doesn’t have to suffer too much on long drives. I am a car salesman’s dream. Take me for a test drive, if I like it I would probably buy it without haggling. Thank G-d for my husband. KoD is the kind of guy that researches everything – extremely thoroughly. Consumer reports, online reviews, comparisons, etc. We went from dealership to dealership, spent so many hours on figuring out the best deal, the best price – the best bang for my buck. The fact that many of them were offering zero down zero percent financing didn’t hurt either. No wonder there are so many layoffs – they can’t be making much money on car sales at all. At least at the end of the payment period I will actually own the car and not have to give it back after paying years worth of lease payments.

 

I have to say that as much as it was mind numbing – all this persnickety detail – I actually learned a lot. I wanted a red van again – that’s an extra 200 bucks whereas silver doesn’t cost any extra whatsoever. (I went with the silver). I learned the difference between a 3.8 engine and a 4.0 (more valves, better compression ratio, more torque and, of course, more horsepower…ooh don’t I sound knowledgeable…). KoD showed me totally how to deal with these salesman who are just trying to make a living but want to squeeze every last red cent out of you that they possibly can. Watching him in action was awesome. I just sat back and watched him negotiate for me. He was polite but firm. What really helped was knowing what we wanted when we went in, and what price WE were not willing to go above.

 

The car dealers are suffering recession too – and in I walk, recently married, and totally jobless (yep, I am suffering the effects of the doggone recession too – was let go just before the wedding. It’s really for the best anyway, I have so much else that I need to focus on right now – the move, immigration, schools for the kids, etc….) so I want them to give me a car for free, or as close as possible. Truth is we were given thousands of dollars in rebates – I could not have got a better deal, and for all the stuff that we loaded into the car, I got a total steal.

 

We were very lucky. We went into Chrysler and had this great young salesman who impressed the heck out of us, eager, not jaded, not yet a greasy salesman! We spent time there, I test drove a Town and Country Touring – she handled amazingly well. So many gidgets and gadgets that my head was spinning. (when KoD and the car dude were talking accessories and stuff – that’s when my eyes totally glazed over. I remember the days when we took a car trip and we all had to suffer listening to the kid’s sesame street cds. Now we have a van that has not one but two DVD thingies and satellite radio – I like it, don’t get me wrong, but life used to be so much less complicated).

 

We didn’t sign there and then. Funnily enough the sales manager sent us an email afterwards asking what happened, how come we didn’t buy the car that day. They are desperate for business. That’s when we went to other dealerships, made phone calls and did all the research. When we went back we dealt with the same guy, and when they gave me the price that I was ok with, it made his day. But you so have to check the fine print! We bantered back and forth, and finally agreed on a price, but when the contract was written up there was a $100 discrepancy – in their favour. Personally I probably would never have noticed it – but KoD to the rescue once again. He wouldn’t let me sign anything without checking it through thoroughly. I have no patience for these things. Again, I am a salesman’s dream. Now the hundred bucks could have been an honest mistake. But one wonders. So they fixed that….then I signed.

 

Now, naively, I thought, you decided you want the car, you sign a form or two, tell them how you will pay the monthly installments, and bam, Bob’s your uncle. Noooooo. Not so fast, lady.

 

You have to have your credit checked. And until they approve your credit, you are in limbo. I gave them all the necessary info and then we left. It was a looooong couple of hours to wait for the phone to ring to say whether or not I was approved to get the vehicle. Of course your mind goes through a million and one scenarios until you get the phone call. “What will I do if I am not approved?” – “I have good credit…..how can they not approve me?”, and then you start to doubt the fact that you will get the car, and it starts to eat away at you. We sat down to eat lunch, but I had no appetite…..

 

Finally the phone call came telling me I was approved, and that the van would be ready for me to pick up later that day. Yes, I cried. It’s a huge investment, second only to buying a house really, and it was something that I absolutely need. But the relief that it would work out the way I wanted it to was awesome. A huge load came off my shoulders. This way also I wouldn’t have to prevail on KoD to drive me back to Montreal, I could drive myself back.

 

So we showed up at the dealership for the third time, our guy was out back prepping the vehicle. We sat down and he walked us through more forms (oh joy), I signed away everything, probably rights to my first movie too, and then we went out front to learn, hands-on, just what my new Silver Minivan could do. It’s awesome. BUT we were promised a full tank of gas – and it was only ¾ full. That was again caught by the eagle-eyed KoD. They would have let us drive off with ¼ of a tank missing. They filled it up for us. He showed us how to hide the seats in the floor – why I would want to do that is beyond me, but it was one of the important features. I am leaving it to KoD to work out how to use the two DVD players, which came with wireless headphones – kids have it so easy these days! I even have a back up camera thingie – don’t my mirrors work? Technology…..

 

So I drove it back to Montreal and it handled like a dream. I drove at 55 mph all the freaking way because apparently according to the manual there is a break-in period of 300 miles on the car, and you shouldn’t exceed speeds of 55 mph so that the engine doesn’t overtax itself or something. The guys in the dealership said this wasn’t the case, they had never heard of a break-in period. KoD called the service manager to make sure – and he said that indeed there was one. I had never heard of such a thing in my life. Let me tell you, I felt like a little old lady driving up the I-87 at such slow speeds.

 

I listened to the free for one year Sirius radio on the way up – comedy all the way. It was better to be laughing while driving, instead of crying at being parted from my husband for ten days.

 

The little princes are in HEAVEN – they love love love the new van and cannot wait to be driven in it. Right now I am still driving my old piece of crap van – until I give it back tonight I may as well use up all the gas in it….

 

Yay, they are opening the doors to the SAQ – catch ya’ll later.