August 26th, 2004

australia, ocean

Briata update...

Due to scheduled work meetings and the fact I have another functioning vehicle, today was the first day I could work from home to be able to have AAA come tow my car to investigate why it wouldn't start. Jeff tried looking at it & we messed around with it a few times to no avail...but due to all the electrical working fine, even the headlights didn't really dim while trying to start, we didn't think it was the battery...I knew it had almost a full tank of gas, so it had to be something else. Jeff couldn't see any obvious cables falling out, fuses blown, etc, so it seemed time for a professional opinion...

So, yesterday I called AAA & found out that one of the two California AAA Car Care Plus service centers is in Santa Clara (ironically would be walking distance if I hadn't moved 2 years ago!) so I scheduled an appointment and was told to call back in the morning for the emergency tow. Like a good girl, I obeyed, with the tow truck arriving about 9:45am...

The guy gets out of the truck, sits down in the car, and for the first about 10 times gets exactly the same results as Jeff & I did:
*lights all come on*
*no VROOM*

Then this guy decides he's going to pump the hell out of the gas pedal like 10 times in a row, then tries again, this time holding the key turned and flooring it for several minutes...finally...
*lights all come on*
- but as soon as he lifts up on the pedal, it immediately dies...

This happened 3 times in a row, then he held everything cranked for EVEN LONGER (any previous car would have flooded the engine long ago) then
*lights all come on*
Hooray! :D

At that exact moment, my work cell rang since the meeting was starting that I needed to be the guy left, nicely saying he'd write this down as "no service" so I still have my 4 free tows for the year, then I shut the garage with the car still running, since I was deathly afraid it wouldn't start again. I went inside, had my meeting, then came back & drove the car to AAA for the starter diagnostic they recommended even if it finally started. I thought this sounded like a good idea, since without knowing what was wrong, how do I know it won't happen again tomorrow?

Even though my house was out of range, they took me home in the courtesy shuttle, then I waited for the call. A few hours later, they called saying the basic check (starter, alternator, battery) was okay except the battery was dangerously low, so they wanted to put in a new battery then test again. I explained (again) the entire set of events that happened and how I really didn't think it was the battery since we didn't add any juice to the battery when it finally started, but since it was the original battery on the car, so over 6 years old, yeah, I'm sure it should be the tune of $180 since of course it's a special Miata battery, tiny enough to fit in the tiny toy car that it is...AAA had to go to the Madza dealership down the street since only dealers stock it! *sigh* Really, I love my car, but sheesh...

About an hour later, I get another call just for symptoms so they know what to check next. I told the full story again, complete with sound effects (how else do you communicate car noises well?) and explained how the tow guy guessed it might be a clog in the fuel line, or perhaps the fuel filter or fuel pump, so they agreed they would try to check those. Of course every time they'd started the car it has worked just fine.

4:30pm they call & say my car is ready, and I just ask what time they close, since I figure I'll get the whole story when I get there. Basically, after a whole bunch of mumbo jumbo, they couldn't find anything verifiably wrong anywhere, but at least all the things they checked are good to go. I'll need new spark plugs soon but not immediately, and the air filter should also be changed soon (THAT at least is a special order at Kragen that I can install myself - been there done that!)...The oil is also fresh since I requested they do an oil change since it was due...

I drove away after $300+ on my credit card (at least I get the points!), with the top down on the car before I left the parking lot, happy to have the breeze in my hair again...but I can't help but be reminded of my Netcom network admin days calling a telco on a circuit outage...

"Could you please give us a reason for the outage?"
"Unknown - all we did was test it and it came back up."

I'm crossing my fingers that it starts tomorrow morning!
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