Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Check Engine

Today the "check engine" light lit up on my dashboard for the fourth time in a week. I have reached the "I don't care any more" threshold. I don't have so much uncommitted time that I can afford to spend all of it in the waiting room at the dealership.

Last Tuesday, the light came on for the first time. I had just had an oil change over the weekend, so I knew it was possible the folks at Jiffy Lube had left something sideways, but I took it to the dealership anyway. A year ago when the "check engine" light came on, it was because I needed a new catalytic converter, a repair job that only the dealership could do because it was covered by the warranty. I wanted to keep that base covered.

So I took the car to the dealership on Wednesday. And the people at the dealership charged me $30 to tell me that the reason the light came on was that the people at Jiffy Lube forgot to clamp down the air filter housing. So I took the receipt from the dealership over to Jiffy Lube and got them to refund the $30.00. Happy ending, right?

On Thursday, the "check engine" light made its second appearance. Since the Jiffy Lube people had whined about me not going to them first, I went to them this time. They plugged the car into a little gizmo that analyzed the code that had triggered the light. They said, "The dealership people don't know what they're doing. If they had done this, they would have seen the problem wasn't an air filter housing, but a bad oxygen sensor." For $85.00 I had a new one put in. Problem solved, right?

It looked that way until Sunday, when the light came on for a third time. So yesterday, I took the car back to the dealership. With glee I told the people there that the Jiffy Lube crowd had called them jerks for not catching the oxygen-sensor code, though now it was the Jiffy Lube folks who looked like jerks. The dealership didn't charge me anything, except several hours of my time, to determine that the only thing wrong with the car was that the guys at Jiffy Lube had turned off the check-engine light, but they hadn't re-set the test values, so the car's computer still thought there was something wrong with the oxygen sensor. They reset the sensor for free and that should have been the end of my troubles - right? Right?

Today, a week after the first incident, "check engine" lit up for the fourth time. And I just don't give a spit. I can't afford to. This stupid car has devoured most of my spare time during the past week, and the people who ought to know what's ailing it don't have a clue. My next step will be to go to a self-employed mechanic I know. Maybe he'll actually look at my car with both eyes.

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