So, since a cousin I hadn't seen for years was visiting my sister down Raleigh way, I headed off for a long weekend at her place. Saturday was a beautiful day. Right up until I got a couple miles past Opal, VA, on Rt. 17. At which point I felt a...um...frisson of unhappiness pass through the engine. Hum. And then there was a miss, followed by another miss, followed by the engine rockin' and rollin' and holy cow I gotta pull over. In the middle of nowhere, VA. Blast and damn. And my car repair skills consists of opening the hood, looking in, and saying "Yep, there's an engine in there."
Cell phones. Have I ever told you how much I love my cell phone? Probably not, because until that point it had merely been useful, as opposed to USEFUL!. Except... repair shops and tow services all close at noon Saturday or aren't open at all. Sheissa. Ah, wait, there's one that doesn't say closed. Yay! A nice lady answers and while there's no mechanic on duty they just towed in from an accident and as soon as he unloads he'll come get me and I can at least get it off the road. And by this time I've confirmed that a friend who lives in Fredericksburg is home and I can be rescued and will have a place to stay if I'm stranded. So nice fellow, last name Stribling, arrives with tow truck, has me pop the hood to give a listen. Says it sounds like I've thrown a plug. I don't know what that is but at least it's diagnosable. On the way down the road I find out that they actually aren't open on Saturday, but were on the rotation for accident tows and had just picked one up.
Down to Joe Stribling Service Center in Bealton we went. While they pulled my suv apart to take a look, the elderly couple whose car had been trashed by a careless driver were on the phone trying to find a rental. Nearest place open was down in Fredericksburg and darned if Chester didn't run them down there rather than tell them to call a taxi. And in the meantime they opened up my SUV and found that yes I had thrown a plug that is located under the ignition coil. It simply blew out, destroying the coil when it did. They were able to get a new ignition coil delivered chop-chop and showed me the damage, old against new:
The grey piece being the one that lost the fight with the plug.
So happy, happy, they are going to fix it and I'll be heading on down the road again. Except....When the plug blew out it stripped the seat. Not to worry, there's a tool you use to deal with that and Chester has done several of these on Ford pickups, which are apparently prone to the problem. Trouble is, the shaft he has to get into is smaller than that of a Ford, or any of the other makes he has the tools for. He can't get to it. Hopes crushed. The only thing to do is tow it into the Hyundai dealer in Fredericksburg and spend the weekend with my friend and hope that the dealer's shop can fix it Monday. Not that I don't love spending the weekend with my friend - we have great times together - but that's not what was planned. Plus I just sank $3,500 into this vehicle for a rebuilt transmission. Not happy. Not happy at all.
So load it back up and down the road to Fredericksburg. But, wait! The bay doors at the dealer shop are open! Oh frabjus day they are open until 7 on Saturdays! And they can fix it. But oh what a price. On top of the $177 tow charge, $585 for the repair. Most of which, of course, was labor. And he says he did the best he could but there's a lot of damage. I'm not a happy camper. I had faith in the rebuilt transmission - I was comfortable with running the suv to Michigan to see the kids. Now I'm beginning to doubt the solidity of the vehicle.
Guess Saturday's trip to the Dulles gun show to look at shotguns is off.
And I'm joining AAA.
PS - If you live in that area and need car work, give Stribling's a try. They've got all sorts of good ratings out on the web, they are really nice people, and I'll bet they'll not charge the arm and a leg the dealer charged me.