Anachostic

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Tag Archives: automotive

An Unmissed Milestone

It was April, 2013 when I hit my first milestone in my car.

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I honestly don’t remember when the second milestone was hit, but I do remember I was kind of upset about it because I missed it.  I have no photographic evidence it happened.  This time around, I wasn’t going to miss it.

And I did not.  I actually took a picture every mile leading up to the rollover.  I won’t bore you with those pictures because they’re moot with the final picture.

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This is kind of a big deal for me, especially since I’ve never owned a car that even got to 200k.  For sure, this is the best car I have ever owned.  I’m starting to get the itch for a different vehicle lately.  Mostly, because the MX-5 is not well suited for long highway drives.  It’s rough and loud, like a sports car should be.  I’ve lived it and enjoyed it for nine years now, but I’m ready to relax a little more.  Not that I’ll be getting rid of the MX-5.  It will still be in the stable for cooler days and evenings.

So in the nine years and 300k miles, what’s been done to the car?  You would imagine as it gets up there in years and miles, some stuff is going to begin failing.  Here’s a list of major repairs I’ve had done.

  • New engine at 75k (my fault for driving into a flooded street).  You might say this invalidates the 300k claim, but it’s still 300k on the body.  And I’ll get back to you at 375k.
  • New starter in 2018
  • New cooling fan in 2019
  • New radiator in 2019 (my fault)
  • 2x AC recharge
  • 2x spark plug changes
  • 2 new MAF sensors
  • New o2 sensor
  • Permanent air filter, cleaned 2x
  • Brakes, rotors, tires, many times over
  • New struts all around
  • New headlight/fog light bulbs
  • New headlight lenses
  • New rear view mirrors (because someone snapped one off, not exactly a mechanical failure)
  • New key (yeah, I wore out the key)
  • On the short list: AC blower fan is near failure

That pretty much all I can recall.  It’s not too bad; all things that you might expect.  I’ve kept up on fluid changes, so things should be pretty good going forward.

The next adventure, when it’s time, is going to be a sportwagon.  It seems after my initial experience with standard vehicles, I prefer the unconventional.

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Not A Fan – You Thought I Was Capable

If you had read the previous post about issues with my car’s cooling fan, you might have the impression that I had a clue as to what I was doing and everything was going to be awesome.  Well, think again.  If you thought things were pretty ridiculous before, the sequel kicks it up a notch.

To recap quickly, my car was lacking heat, so I got the thermostat replaced, then the car started overheating, which I determined was caused by a large frog stuck in the cooling fan.  Then, the car started overheating again, which I determined was the fan blades separating from the fan motor.  When we left off, I was going to save myself hundreds of dollars by installing the fan myself.  Silly me.

To start the task off right, I begin working on the car in the late afternoon on a weekday instead of first thing in the morning on a weekend.  You know, giving yourself a few hours with no backup plan for the next day is the proper way to work.  And I got to disassembling and removing all the pieces involved.  That only took about half an hour, which is reasonable.

What became unreasonable very quickly was how many hoses and wires were secured to the fan assembly and additionally, how little space was gained by removing everything I did.  There simply was not enough space to get the fan out.  Not without removing the front bumper, that is.  And is that what I wanted to start with the sun going down?  No.  So I put everything back together for the night.

One of the pieces that I had to take out was the ECU, which is the brains of the car.  After I got done reassembling everything, I planned to give the car a quick start to reset everything.  The reason for that is when you disconnect the ECU, there is some recalibration that the engine has to do on first startup.  But, for whatever reason, I got distracted and didn’t remember until after it was dark outside.

When I did remember, I tried to start the car and it was dead.  The warning lights were lit up everywhere and the gas gauge didn’t move.  Well, this is a wonderful turn of events.  It’s now dark out, I have to go to bed to go to work tomorrow and I have no working vehicle.  I wondered if I somehow fried the ECU while I was working on it.  If so, that’s the end of this car.  But I can’t think about that now.  I have to get to work tomorrow.

I go online and get a rental car for a week.  The next morning, I use Uber for the first time to get to the rental office.  Days go by and I finally return to the car to find out what’s wrong.  My primary thought was that I reversed the plugs to the ECU and I hoped that didn’t ruin it.  When I dug down into the car and got to the ECU, I discovered you can’t mix up the plugs in any way.  So now what?  I posted a question on a car forum asking for help and the unanimous response was, dead battery or bad battery connections.

The next day, I pulled the battery and charged it up (from 95% to 100%, so I doubted that was the problem).  When I went to reinstall the battery, I looked at the terminal clamps.  The negative clamp had a thick layer of corrosion around the inside of it.  It wasn’t noticeable from the outside, but clearly it was interfering with the electrical connection.  A quick effort with some sandpaper cleared that up right away and boom, the car started right up.  I’m back in business!

I decide to make the most of my car rental and drive it for the remainder of the week.  Monday, I returned the rental and got back to the house.  I started up my car and headed out to lunch.  A few miles down the road, the engine starts overheating.  Not a problem, I crank the heat and fan like I normally do to cool it down.  But no heat is coming out, and the temperature is climbing very quickly.

I make a quick decision to head back home and since I can’t make it back before the engine would seriously overheat, I stopped in a parking lot to let it cool down.  Since I can’t get any heat from the engine, I make the diagnosis that I introduced some air into the system while I had all the hoses disconnected.  That would prevent the coolant from circulating into the heater core.  Once I got the car home and let it cool, I could “burp” the system and get the air out.

Mid afternoon (again), I start the burping process.  I add some water into the reservoir and begin.  But still, no heat before the engine begins overheating.  I check the reservoir and it’s empty again.  I add more water.  And more water.  Where did all the coolant go?  I hear it gurgling.  Then, with reservation, I look under the car and see where all the coolant is going.  On the ground.

I don’t remember missing any hoses when I was putting everything back together, but I checked anyway to see if there were any loose connections.  There was one.  Except it wasn’t loose, it was snapped off.  Apparently when I was yanking on the fan assembly, trying to get it out, I snapped off one of the connections to the radiator.  The reality hit me like a sack of money.  Now I had to buy a new radiator.  That’s it.  I give up.  I call and reserve another rental car.  Get another Uber ride to get the car.  Then I broke down and called a mechanic to replace the radiator and install the cooling fan.

Let’s now summarize how much money I saved by doing this work myself.  Initially, I was estimating $700 to have a dealer replace the fan.  I bought a replacement fan for $150.  I was confused by a bad battery connection and spent $300 on a rental car for a week.  The new radiator and install is about $900.  Plus my second rental car, which will be about $150.  Plus towing the car to the mechanic, maybe $50.  It will literally cost me more than twice as much to do this myself.

As it turned out, my insurance’s roadside assistance considers rendering your car inoperable in your own driveway a valid roadside assistance request, so my tow was free.  I got the call from the mechanic the same day that my car was ready, but the rental office was closed, so I just planned to pick it up the next day after work.  The bill was actually less than I was quoted, so I assume they found the radiator cheaper than it was estimated.

I was able to drive all the way to work with no overheating and AC on, so I think it was a successful fix.  The AC is hissing now, so I think I’ll need to pick up a recharge kit and… wait a minute.  $50-some dollars for a recharge kit and the chance for me to ruin something else, or $100 to have a professional recharge it.  I think I’ve finally learned my lesson here.

The Fan, Of Which I Am Not A Fan

In the middle of a record-breaking heat wave, I’m going to go without AC in my car.  Not by choice, mind you.  This situation is the result of a series of issues, not unlike tumbling down a hillside.

The first issue, quite ironically, was that my car didn’t have any heat.  Initially, it didn’t have heat for an extended period, then it had none at all.  You would think this wouldn’t be a problem in the middle of summer here, but it actually is.  My complaint was that in the morning, when it is cool and foggy, you need to use the defroster to clear your windshield.  Without heat, I was just blowing pure AC at the glass, which made it fog up – on the outside.  So I would have to run my wipers for about 20 minutes until I got some heat to balance out the temps.  And also, during that time, I am freezing my ass off.

I know that this symptom can be caused by a failed thermostat, which prevents the warm coolant from getting to the heater core inside the car.  So I went to the shop and requested to get the thermostat changed.  It was much more expensive than I expected – $400 – but I agreed to it.  While they had everything disassembled, they said the coolant had sediment in it which probably caused the failure and they recommended a coolant flush.  Fine, now it’s $500.  Whatever.

The next day, I had heat.  Things were back to normal.  On the drive home that day, I suddenly had heat when I shouldn’t have.  My AC turned warm and my engine temperature gauge started climbing.  I followed the standard procedure for engine overheating, which was to roll down the windows, crank the heat and fan to max and roast in the convection oven until the engine cools down.  At the time, I thought it was a fluke because I was stuck in traffic and it was a ridiculously hot day.  But the next day was just as hot and the car overheated again at a stop light.

I called the shop and asked if they could have a look at it, since this wasn’t happening until they did their service.  They agreed, but when I showed up, they were too busy to see me that day.  So I went home and determined to troubleshoot it myself.  My first thought was that they left the cooling fan harness unplugged, because I hadn’t heard the cooling fan run since the service.

I took the car apart and was somewhat disappointed to see the cooling fan plugged in.  But the fan still wasn’t turning.  I moved the fan blades and found out why.  There was a large, desiccated flog jammed in between the blades, preventing it from turning.  After extricating the frog carcass and changing out the fuse which had blown from the motor being blocked for an extended period, I thought I was golden. 

The next day, I was sitting in the car, talking on the phone for about half an hour, and the AC went warm again, the temperature gauge climbed again, and this time, there was a piercing smell of burning plastic.  Things have gone from bad to worse.  Over the weekend, I pulled everything back apart and found the fan blades had detached from the motor shaft.  I assume the burning smell was the shaft spinning freely against the plastic and melting it like a Dremel.

Ok, I now have to replace the fan assembly.  A quick search online suggests that this is a $700 service at the dealership.  But, but, I can buy a new fan assembly for only $150, and the install is just unbolting about four things and dealing with a few clips.  I made a quick purchase from EBay for the new fan and my heart sank when I got the order confirmation email that said delivery would be in about two weeks.  That’s a long, long wait in Internet time.

And now I wait.  And I have to keep alert in the car to make sure it’s not overheating.  And I have to drive with the windows down, like it’s the 1950’s and AC isn’t standard equipment.  It’s so retro.

Fuck You, Reflection Of Myself!

There’s been a recent raft of shit going on at work lately.  When I say shit, I mean literal shit, but I don’t mean there’s a literal raft involved.  This shit affects me, and a couple of my co-workers, but it isn’t a co-worker’s shit.  It’s simply a matter of mistaken identity and unwarranted aggression from an idiot doing idiotic things.  Fucking bird.

It’s a stupid female cardinal that must have a nest of stupid cardinal babies in a nest in a tree above our cars.  And at various times times during the day, this helicopter mom, this smotherfucker, swoops down to our cars because it sees itself in our rear view mirrors.  It then proceeds to flap around and attack its reflection in the mirror.  I’m not sure if the shitting part is because the bird thinks it won or because it thinks it’s losing the fight, but our cars all have bird shit on the doors from the fight.  I can see marks on my window from the feathers flapping furiously in a highly-alliterative sentence.

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I’ve even been in the car during the attacks.  I’m just chilling out, using my new Android phone, which has been a big pile of meh, and I’ll see bitch bird flapping and pecking around at the car beside me, or sometimes it comes to my car.  Bitch bird stands on the door’s window sill and makes a big fuss over the other bird in the door mirror.  It makes me wonder about about the canary I had as a little kid.  Was it cruel to put a mirror in the cage and laugh when the bird pecked at it?  I was told that birds liked to look at themselves.  This stupid bird sure doesn’t.

So, to keep my car door from getting shat all over, I started covering up my mirror with a cleaning rag.  That seemed to work except the bitch went over to the passenger side to fight. So I need two cleaning rags.

Black Knight Of The Highway

I had an incident a couple of years ago where I was involved in a collision on the highway.  I was going full highway speed and got rear-ended by someone going much faster.  This morning, I had another collision, with slightly different circumstances.

I’m doing my usual morning commute to work and just about ready to turn off at my exit.  Something catches my eye and I look in the rear view mirror and a semi truck is right on my ass.  The truck had moved into my lane to pass another semi that was to my left.  I look in the mirror and say, “You motherfucker.  Why don’t you get a little closer.”  So he did.

Now, I’m saying, “Whatever, fucker.  You can wait until I get off in a few seconds.”  But he didn’t seem to care.  He got even closer.  Even more pissed off, I put on my turn signal to let him know I’d be out of the way soon.  What I did not consider is that I am a tiny, tiny car.  He is a massive semi truck.  Not that it’s any absolution, but he probably never even saw me.  His huge hood probably blocked me from his view entirely.  And so, it’s probably no surprise what happened next.

I got bumped.  My car swerved to the right, into the exit lane and he pulled up alongside me.  I’m still not sure if he even noticed me at this point.  I sped up alongside him and blared my tiny, tiny horn at him, but I doubt he even heard it.  The median guardrail was coming up quickly, so I had to abort and stay in the exit lane, leaving him to go on his (probably) oblivious way.

At the stop light at the end of the exit lane, I immediately jumped out and checked the damage to my car.  It’s just some very minor scuffing on the bumper that can probably be polished out.  I went the rest of the way to work and it was at that time, I realized I left my phone at the house.  This will be a great day.

But you know what?  I have a dash cam.  Granted, it doesn’t have a rear-facing camera, but I still have evidence I was hit.  Just as an aside, a rear dash cam would be outrageous.  Everything scary and crazy always happens behind me.  So, in the parking lot at work, I saved the segment of the incident and later, I reviewed the video.  The quality is pretty good.  I am able to make out the trucking company name and their DOT license.  Hopefully that’s enough of a lead to make this guy’s life miserable.

In the time I’ve had to think about this, my thoughts on the event have changed.  My initial thought was that I got bumped because I was going too slow for this truck driver and he was impatient to pass this other truck.  As I’ve thought more about it, it’s probably just that I was invisible to him.  Again, that doesn’t make him any less at fault here.  But, it does make me extremely lucky that when the truck moved into my lane, I was in the position I was.  If I was in his blind spot when he changed lanes and he was that close to my rear when he came in, it’s not unfathomable that I could have been a foot or two farther back and he would have clipped my rear bumper, sending me into a spin.  Things could have been far worse.

But, in spite of the fortune granted on me, FUCK ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!  YOU SONS OF BITCHES ARE FUCKING MENACES ON THE ROAD AND YOU ALL NEED TO DIE!!  LEARN TO FUCKING DRIVE, LEARN TO HAVE SOME PATIENCE, LEARN THAT IT’S NOT JUST YOU ON THE ROAD!  IT’S NOT YOUR FUCKING ROAD, WE ALL HAVE TO USE IT.  WE ALL HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE THIS EVENT SAFE AND EFFICIENT.  SAFE AND EFFICIENT! GOD DAMN IT, YOU BASTARDS!  I FUCKING HATE ALL OF YOU!!!!

Let me be clear.  I don’t hate you as people, I hate you as drivers and the people you become when you start driving.  Seriously, you do not think of what the consequences could be.  Every time you change a lane, that is an opportunity to sideswipe someone.  Each time you are checking the lane you want to get into, you are not checking the lane you are in and the cars in front of you.  Every time you speed up into a passing lane (especially to the right), you have the chance of finding traffic stopped in front of you in that new lane.  If you’re a large truck, you need to look beside you and not just behind you when changing lanes.

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And you, Mr. Red Truck, working for Trimac Transportation Inc., you’re going to hear from me very shortly.

Cosmetic Surgery

What seems like forever ago, BMW added halos to their car’s headlights and the world went apeshit.  They had a poignant ad campaign focused on the headlights with a deep message like, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”  Oooooo.

I recently changed out the headlight lenses on my car because they were completely fogged over; they were almost useless.  And let me stop you here, the fogging was on the inside of the lenses, so buying one of those polishing kits would not have fixed it.

The lenses were not cheap – at all.  A little over $800, if you’re wondering.  They took a significant amount of time to even get shipped to me, then they sat in my garage for weeks until I had a free weekend to do the work.  And the work has now been done and I couldn’t be any more pleased.

I never noticed that I am constantly looking at other cars’ “eyes” to gauge how old they are.  After I changed out my headlight lenses, it was like the car was brand new again.  And I say that with a lot of sincerity – it is really that big of a difference.

Back in October, this is what the car looked like (photo courtesy of AK):

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She was dressed up for Halloween as a vampire.  See how the lights are a dull, matte finish?  It gives the car a lifeless look, which may be fine for a vampire, but when someone is checking out your car and they see those dull headlights, it really shows the age.

Over the weekend I got to work., this is what my car looked like, mid-procedure.  WP_20180303_09_47_57_Pro

A couple of close-ups of the lenses before they came out.

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And even more surgery,

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Now, after the change, the difference is amazing.

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And just look how happy she is!  Young and pretty again.  Sometime in the future, she deserves a fresh coat of paint, since the fiberglass surfaces of the roof and retractable hardtop deck have faded and lost all their shine.  But for now, the light is bright and clear, and the eyes reveal a well-travelled soul.

Their Missed Opportunity

It’s pretty ridiculous that I have to convince myself that I should be outraged about what happened and that I am justified in my outrage.  It’s a sad state of affairs that the level of service for just about everything has dropped to non-existent and when you experience non-service, it’s just a matter of, oh, that’s just how it is.

As I previously mentioned, someone broke the side mirror off my car, and I now have the replacements.  I want to get them painted, but who should I call?  In my former car incident, I had my bumper repaired and I was very pleased with the repainting job that was done.  So I emailed my contact at Progressive and asked who did the work so I could go back there.  They gave me the info, no problem, and were happy that I was pleased enough to ask for a referral.  That’s the high point of this event.

Yesterday, I headed to the body shop’s location after work.  Their business is in the heart of the downtown area.  Not the best area of town, and some of the worst traffic around.  Something like 30 minutes for 12 miles of travel (with no side mirror to help me change lanes).  So I’m a little frazzled by the time I get there.

I go into the office and a woman behind the desk is on the phone.  She tells the person on the phone to hold on a minute and asks me what I need.  I explain I want to discuss getting some mirrors painted.  She then says I need to speak to Carlos, who is not there right now (maybe at a dealership?).  She asks if I can come back tomorrow.  I reply, “Well, I’m in the area today…” hoping to get some help now.  She didn’t have any response, so I said (with a hint of sarcasm), “I’ll be back later” and left.  Fuck them.

There are so many ways this could have ended up differently, and a lot of them are just simple timing.  But, here’s the thing that I keep thinking:  There’s only one person in your entire business who can take care of my request and he’s not here, so effectively, your business is closed to new customers.  You have a shitty business.  Yeah, I’m sure they’re doing fine since they have partnerships with insurance companies and dealerships and so they don’t need me.  Well, I don’t need them either.

The other thing that gets me is, this receptionist has no interest in her employer’s business or in any potential customer’s needs.  First of all, the person she was talking to on the phone was either not important enough to give her full attention to or was more important than me.  Or, I’m just interrupting her phone call.  I could have waited a while to get her full attention, but she decided that wasn’t going to happen.  Next, she was completely useless for me.  She told me who I need to talk to and that was it.  She had nothing to say about the company, the service (ha!), what kind of information I would need, nothing.  She didn’t offer to let me talk to anyone else who might have more information for me.  And how about this?  She didn’t ask for my name or number so they could contact me.  No, I have to come back to them.  Her entire interaction with me said, “Talk to Carlos.  That’s not my job.”

The last time I got irked like that was many years ago when I was shopping for car tires (hmmm, an industry issue?).  I had stopped at a place and asked what tire models they had for my car.  The guy rattled off a few and I asked if he had some paper to write them down.  What I expected was for him to write the options down, but instead, he got a pen and some paper and pushed it towards me.  I was a little stunned by that.  As I’m recounting this, I’m thinking, why was I offended?  And it’s probably more than just the courtesy of him doing it for me, it’s the lack of efficiency involved.  This guy knows the tires and the prices and can jot them down quickly.  Now he’s made more work for both of us, because I have to ask him to repeat himself and maybe ask for spellings while I transcribe.  And he’ll probably be annoyed he has to slowly list these things.  I’ve never seen a case where laziness beat out “it’d be faster to do it myself.”

I Love You Too, World.

I thought I was over that whole ordeal.  You know, the one where a random person slammed into the back of my car while we’re all going full speed on the interstate and just took off.  I spent quite a while both angry at the world and a little fearful about when it was going to happen to me again.  Eventually, I relaxed and accepted that driving in traffic is nothing more than travelling through a large sewer pipe with pieces of shit flowing all around you.  I got back to feeling sorry that these pathetics were stressing themselves out over nothing.  I had moved on.

But, people are going to be people.  I came out of the mall the other day and saw someone had been messing with my car.  The passenger-side mirror was rotated inward partially.  However, that wasn’t the first thing that I noticed.  The first thing I noticed was the driver-side mirror was rotated right the fuck off the door and was dangling by its power cable.

My rage passed through me pretty quickly.  I briefly considered kicking in the door of the truck beside me, since their door could have broken off my mirror, but reconsidered for a few reasons.  First, it’s unlikely someone would bust off the mirror of the car beside them and continue to stick around.  Second, it didn’t look like there was damage on their door consistent with the scenario.  Finally, what good would it do?  Seeing that the other mirror was fucked around with made it more likely it was just a roving gang of teen punks.  You just can’t have anything nice anymore.  Respect for others’ property?  Ha!

What can you do in a case like that?  After I cut off the mirror and was carrying it to the trunk like a cephalophore (your word for the day), the guy who owned the truck next to me – who fortunately did not have his door kicked in by an angry child – showed up.  He had just gotten there about five minutes before, but didn’t notice anything amiss.  Probably just unobservant.  He suggested going back to the mall and asking for security cam footage.  Yeah, that’ll help.  “Oh we know those guys!  We have them in our address book.  We’ll send the cops to their house again now.”  Another victimless crime for them, another mild annoyance for the rich guy with the nice car.

On the positive side (if there is one), it’s not going to cost me as much as I was expecting.  A new set of mirrors is like $90.  Might as well get both to ensure they are perfectly matched.  Not sure how much it will be to paint them, but it shouldn’t be much.  The mirrors did need repainted anyway since they had lots of chips from road gravel and whatnot.  At least this is something I don’t have to get insurance involved with.

“Hi, Progressive.  Yeah, it’s me again.  Haha, yeah, yeah, I know.  Hey, guess what happened this time?  You won’t believe it”

I Guess It Was My Turn.

The last couple days have been pretty hard for me.  Not difficult, just hard.  I’ve been having a hard time getting along with the human race, specifically on the roadways.  My outlook changed last Saturday when I was driving home on the interstate, cruising along with the other cars and I glance in my rear view mirror and see someone right on my ass.  I mean, right there.

“Surely they realize how close they are and how unsafe that is.  They’ll slow down now.” is the thought I had in my mind when the impact occurred.  Everything in the car went flying. drinks spilled, shifter thrown into neutral, GF screaming.  Even though we were surrounded by cars, it’s surprising how quickly openings appear when cars collide.  I was able to quickly get over to the right hand median.  But my assailant didn’t.  Nor did he have any intention of doing anything of the sort.

Still in shock, I hadn’t realized yet that the car was in neutral, so trying to take chase of the other car was delayed by a few precious seconds while I wondered why the car wouldn’t move.  Did I take so much damage that my tires were pinned?  Nope.  I got back in drive and took off in pursuit.

Unfortunately, traffic worked hard against me, blocking me in lane after lane.  And I was disadvantaged because I’m clearly not as reckless as the one who hit me.  My hopes of catching the assaulter fell quickly.  One of the cars I caught up to and tried to get around started gesturing at me.  They kept pointing to the right hand side of the road even though we were in the left lane.  Eventually, we both pulled off to the left side.

I immediately went and looked at my damaged bumper.  Honestly, it wasn’t bad.  The other people got out of their car and explained that the car I wanted just got off on the exit we just passed together.  Well, that’s lost.  But, they said they got the plate number, so hooray!  We traded info in case I needed a witness (tip: highway patrol and insurance really want a witness).

So, to speed the story up a bit, the police were unable to find a matching car with that plate number.  I have to pay my insurance deductible because no one can find the hit-and-run bastard.  But, I’m grateful things didn’t turn out much worse.  Getting hit at 75mph, I could have swerved, flipped, gotten t-boned, hit a pole, and maybe even taken out other cars (and who would then be responsible for that?!).  Things aren’t that bad.

But they are.  I had been slowly getting more and more frustrated by the behavior of other drivers on the highway.  Insanely unsafe driving with no regard for others.  I’ve recently had to keep my composure when delayed by accidents.  It takes a lot for me to not get to the accident site and yell out the window, “You motherfuckers!  Do you see what you’ve done?!”

When I see a car coming up behind me now, my first thought is, “Are you going to hit me, too?  Why don’t you?”  Every time I see someone weave through traffic, I think, “Are you going to run away?  Do you even know what risk you’re taking?  Do you even fucking care?”  I know the answer.  They don’t.  I used to not let that worry me, because these self-centered assholes never affected me.  But now they have, and I want to wage war.

Right now, I’m debating on buying a dash cam.  I feel I need to document this insanity.  I’m also giving thought to creating a website exposing these ridiculous drivers.  I will probably need to get some council to determine if such a thing is legal, and I really hope it is.  To have a searchable database of license plates with user-submitted video proof of the owner’s dangerous driving habits, that may make a difference.

And if it doesn’t, or if such a thing can’t be done, well, I guess I just have to suck it up and pay the deductible.  The assholes win again. 

Renewed Vigor

I’ve had my car, a Mazda MX-5, for almost six years now.  In that time, I’ve raced it in autocrosses, driven it in rallies, and destroyed the engine in a flooded street.  Since that flooding event, I’ve given up on the hard-driving autocrosses, but it hasn’t slowed down much at all.  I still put about 30k miles a year on it.  The body and transmission have 174k miles.  The engine, a little less at 100k.

Lately, it seems like I’ve been having to work harder at keeping the system running well.  I was having a problem with cold starts on cooler mornings.  This was cleared up by cleaning the IAC valve – the Idle Air Control valve.  It’s a simple procedure involving unscrewing something and dousing it with cleaning fluid.  You should do it each time you change the air filter, but I seemed to have to do it more frequently than that.

Then I started having problems with the engine bogging down when I decelerate to a stop.  This was solved by cleaning the throttle body.  That’s a slightly more involved procedure involving unbolting a part and dousing it with cleaning fluid, then wiping off the carbon buildup.  I had to do it twice because I wasn’t thorough enough the first time.

Lately, things just didn’t feel quite right.  I knew I needed some critical safety maintenance, like brakes and tires, so I got both of those taken care of.  That made the ride much more smooth and quiet, but something was still off.  The engine seemed like it was struggling and the shifting was rough.  So I planned on doing some internal cleaning.

I stopped at AutoZone and picked up some Seafoam.  I’ve used Seafoam on my cars for a while and each time I do, I am surprised by the results.  There is a great argument as to whether it really does anything at all or whether it’s all in your head, but I am a believer.

I added a full can to my half-tank of gas yesterday when I got home.  When I started the car up and drove it this morning, it was immediately noticeable that something was better.  The engine was smoother, the acceleration was better, the shifts weren’t clunky anymore.

The weirdest thing was the accelerator.  My car is drive-by-wire, so there’s no cable literally pulling on the throttle body.  Yet somehow, the pedal was more responsive.  I didn’t have the previous sensation of one position having too little power and with a slight pressure change, suddenly having too much power.  That was causing me to surge in my driving, and I would spend a lot of time speeding up and slowing down.  Now, I could hold a position exactly where I wanted.

When I noticed that the car was running smoother, I reset my MPG sensor.  From almost six years of ownership, I know that my highway drive to work after resetting the computer would show about 34 MPG, and then it would drop as my city driving would factor in.  Getting to work today, the MPG read 36.8.  That has to account for something, right?

But I’m still not done.  I’ll also be adding Seafoam to the intake line this weekend.  Then I should be caught up on that level of maintenance.  Cheap and easy fixes are the best.