The Hazards of Hazel, Pt. 1
Posted by wendiwendy
Just about a year ago, I wrote about our car not starting. This was not long after we transitioned to a one-car household, and it was in Illinois in January – super cold and snowy, and my mom was in Florida until April. (She was our go-to person if we needed a ride home from the car shop.) We went out to the car, Dave turned the key, the car started, and then it promptly died. Eventually we had the car towed to a nearby shop, and they fixed something called the camshaft position sensor. The car was ready the next day, and we took a cab to the shop to pick it up. Crisis averted!
When we decided to move to Michigan this summer, we knew we’d be making many trips back and forth from Illinois to Michigan – to look for housing, to visit family, etc. Our car had over 100,000 miles on it when we bought it (it was only four years old at the time but the guy obviously drove a lot). We never knew if the former owner had done the usual maintenance things that you should do at 100,000 miles, and although we barely drove the car in the ensuing six years, it still had a good number of miles over 100,000 by this past summer.
So Dave took it to a mechanic he trusted, told him that we needed this car to be reliable for a number of years more, and to do what needed to be done to make her super-solid. It was extremely, extremely expensive, but still less money than buying a new car. We love old Hazel and we would like to keep her around for a good long time. She got all kinds of new, much-needed innards. Then Dave asked the mechanic to check out the camshaft position sensor; he wasn’t crazy about the way the other guys had fixed it back in January. (I believe the connector was broken and they had just put a cable tie around it to hold it together.)
Well, that turned what was a 2 or 3 day job into a TWO WEEK job. I’m not exaggerating – eventually the mechanic gave us one of his extra cars to drive because he knew we were without a car and we needed to travel to Michigan numerous times to do house-related stuff. (My mom had generously loaned us her car for at least two of those trips.) We thought we were never getting our car back. The CSP has a connector and/or harness that needed to be fixed, but the only way to get the part from Hyundai was to buy a huge panel or something that cost $1,500. So the mechanic did a workaround and finally got it working, after trying (unsuccessfully) to find the part in junkyards and who knows where else.
So we got Hazel back and she was running like a champ. We were SO relieved. Then on the drive here, the official final drive from Illinois to Michigan with the cats in the car as well as our computers, food, etc., she started to overheat. While we were stuck, not moving, in traffic on the expressway in Gary, Indiana.
I still get PTSD remembering that, so let’s move right along. We noticed it was worse if we had the air conditioning on, so we turned it off (even though it was 90 degrees and humid) and sweated our way to our new house. That was on a Friday. We were stuck at the (empty) house for the weekend, since we didn’t know what was wrong with our (only) car and didn’t want to drive it anywhere.
Dave called around and found a mechanic on Monday – basically he just checked Yelp reviews and took a chance. Hazel ended up getting a new radiator and we, once again, emptied our (sobbing) wallets. Dave was able to wait at the shop while they did the repair, and then drive her home.
About a week later, we were driving along in air-conditioned glory when I noticed the temperature gauge starting to creep up again. This was habit for me by now – we’d drive somewhere in the car, and every couple of minutes I’d glance at the temperature gauge to see if it had moved above the middle line. I pointed it out to Dave and he was furious.
You see, he’d asked the guy to check the thermostat, but apparently he didn’t. Dave pulled the thermostat and could see that it was sticking, so he bought a new one, installed it, and the temperature has been fine in the car ever since. We’ll never know if we really needed a radiator or not, but Dave hasn’t taken Hazel back to see that guy and never will.
After a month or so, I started to relax when we drove in the car. I really felt that all the questionable bits had been replaced, buffed, shined, and fixed. I had complete confidence when we drove her around Michigan, back and forth to Illinois – anywhere, really.
Then winter came, and it got cold.
… to be continued, tomorrow hopefully.