Last Friday the check engine light came on.
I wasn’t too concerned. It came on right after I picked it up from all of the repairs from the snow accident. The mechanics took a look and said it was the oxygen sensor which is particularly sensitive and is probably just acting up because they had moved it around while making the repairs. They ordered a new one just in case, but told me not to worry about it unless it came back on again.
Two days later, it did.
The mechanics swapped out the sensor for no cost since it was part of the previous job and sent me on my way.
So when it came on again, I assumed it was related to those issues. I dropped my car off Monday night and got a lift home from my lovely home teachers. Tuesday morning the mechanic called.
“Do you drive in the mountains a lot?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied. Not only did I have my (former) commute to Bailey, but I also drove to Granby and back that weekend for the annual Rocky Mountain Retreat (or, as it’s nicknamed, the Denver Area Mormon Women’s Retreat, which allows people to ask, “Are you going to the DAM women’s retreat again?”).
“Any chance you hit something?” he asked.
I thought back. There was a large rock or something in the road at one of the tight curves just outside of school. I remember coming across it the day or two after I got my car back from the last repairs. Between the blind curve and the lack of shoulder room, I couldn’t avoid it and it definitely hit the undercarriage with a clank. I pulled over as soon as there was room to, but couldn’t see any issues and the car was driving fine, so I disregarded it. I explained all of this to the mechanic.
“Yeah, that would do it,” he said.
He went on to explain that something had hit my muffler/exhaust system with enough force to dent and pierce it. It also shoved it up against another part of the car (the carbon something… I really should take an automotive summer course and fix my total ignorance in this field) and melted it. Then it melted its way through the floor boards.
They tried to hammer it out, but concluded that I need a new muffler/exhaust system. They also think they might be able to patch up the hole in the floor with silicone since they can’t weld anything without “setting the car on fire,” but can’t be sure about that until they try.
Like how the thieves got into my car, I truly don’t know how I drove around for three weeks without knowing about this. There was some rattling, but a) my car is noisy anyway, b) it just had a bunch of repairs and it always sounds different after those, and c) I was hauling around a carful of stuff from classroom to classroom practically every day and swords and such make rattling noises too. I don’t have the best sense of smell, but you would think I would smell parts of my car melting underneath me, right?
I contacted my insurance agency and reported this. I had to explain (more than once) that this is not related to the accident I reported a few weeks ago, but is a new issue. I did not bring up the theft of insurance/registration documents with him because I figured I didn’t need to confuse the agent any further.
So, my car is back in the shop. At least I’m in a place schedule-wise where I can do the work I need to from home. I’ve stuck to my house for the last few days but I’m picking up a rental car this afternoon for the foreseeable future. Again.
The insurance agency warned me that the car may be deemed a total loss if the cost of the repairs is higher than the car’s worth. Given that my car was estimated at $1300 on the Kelly Blue Book site when I check it out a few months back, I’m not holding my breath there. My stubbornness is kicking in, though. I was thinking it may be time for a new (used) car a few months ago, but when I made the call to get the Vibe fixed after the snow accident I made my choice. Yes, I’ve been to the mechanic’s five times in the last month. Yes, I’ve had two accidents, three check engine lights, and a burglary. But, dang it, I made the choice
to walk across the United States to Utah territory to stick with this car for a few more years and I’m sticking with it.