Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Problem with the Car

I got my car back from the shop. It runs great so far, but I'm skeptical. Since I've had the car in the shop for the same problem 4 times, I want to wait a while before I deem the car truly fixed.

But, I'd say it's probably fixed. It runs better than it has for over a year. I've taken it to two different mechanics and neither of them (nor any of the other mechanics at those businesses) could figure out what was wrong with it.

The problem with the car was that it wouldn't start some times, and when it did start it would run rough in 1st gear and 3rd gear. The battery was been tested 3 times and found good. The alternator was checked twice and found good.

The starter had been checked. The voltage regulator had been checked. The fuel pump had been checked. They were all found to be good.

In my quest to fix this pain-in-the-butt car, I've had the gear shift cable replaced, the ignition cylinder replaced, the fuel filter replaced, the spark plugs and wires replaced, the ignition wires replaced (I think these are the same as spark plug wires but I have a separate charge for them), and the crossover pipe replaced (suspected vacuum leak).

This time I had the coil packs replaced and I think they were the problem all along. Before I took the car to the shop this time, I looked over all the receipts from previous repairs and noticed that on two invoices (from different shops) there was a mention that one of the coil packs was weak.

But, on both invoices, changing the coil pack was "not recommended at this time." I brought this to the mechanic's attention when I took the car to him, and suggested that he check the coil packs again.

Lo and behold, he said the coil pack was the problem. He also said that the battery (which had been tested 3 times and said to be good) had a dead cell and this accounted for the starting problem.

The mechanic gave me the choice with the coil pack. He said we could replace just the bad one or replace them all. Since one had gone bad, he said it was more likely that the other two were not in good shape and may go bad soon. He also had coil packs with either a 1 year warranty or a lifetime warranty.

After all the hassle I've had with this problem, I opted to replace all of the coil packs, and chose the lifetime warranty even though they were significantly more expensive. But, I did go buy a battery myself and bring it to him to put in. I saved $20 by doing that.

The repairs still totalled $420, but if this fixes the problem it's more than worth the price. A new (used) car would have put us in debt again, and I will avoid that if at all possible.

Why am I sharing all this mechanical stuff with you all? In case anyone has the same sort of problem, I would like to save them the hassles I went through. Always be sure to read the invoices. This might just save you the expense and aggravation that I went through.