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A dumpster full of various musings over life, God, scripture, and any random thought that may fly by meanwhile. Comments welcome.

Archive for June, 2007

Murphy dies.

Posted by Iszi on June 20, 2007

Okay, I just have one question right now:




If you haven’t already read the backstory of all the headaches I’ve had with my current vehicle, check it here before reading on.

So, as of last Tuesday, I thought I was getting pretty close to being in good order as far as my vehicle was concerned:

  • Half-Dead Transmission: Murphy was scheduled to go back to the shop Friday to get the half-ass re-built transmission fixed under warranty.
  • Brakes: While driving on the half-ass rebuilt transmission, the front brakes started squealing and grinding at me. The necessary parts had already been purchased for preventive maintenance anyway, so I made plans to meet with a friend to have them replaced after the transmission was fixed.
  • Control Arms: Parts had already been purchased, and plans made with a friend for the repairs to be done, (again) after the transmission was fixed.
  • ABS Wheel Speed Sensor: Parts purchased, plans made, pending transmission fix.
  • Tune-up Needed: Parts purchased, plans made, pending transmission fix.
  • Sway-Bar Upgrade: Parts purchased, plans made, pending transmission fix.

Everything was waiting on the transmission to be straightened out, which was supposed to happen on Friday. This was either because I didn’t want to burn up new parts/fluids if I needed to run in low gear again for awhile, or because the time that might have been spent fixing those other issues was otherwise occupied attempting to repair the transmission.

So, Wednesday morning comes and I’m thinking there’s just one more day between there and Friday – one more day until I can hand off the car, and when I get it back it should be clear sailing through the rest of the course.

Wednesday afternoon, I got into a little wreck.

I was going to make a left turn across three opposing traffic lanes. The first two lanes were stopped to leave the intersection clear, because the traffic on my side of the intersection was backed up. The third lane was open, but seemed clear enough to cross given the speed limit of the road. By this, I mean I should have been able to see anyone coming in that lane – traveling at or near the speed limit – that might pose a risk, before I decided to cross. I didn’t, so I went. Of course, there’s some idiot in a minivan that – despite roads being wet from recent rain, and despite seeing traffic in his lane stopped on the other side of the intersection – still wants to approach the intersection at probably 10+ over the limit.

Of course, the locals being as wonderful and helpful as they are, there were plenty of witnesses who stuck around to speak with the officers, who came to the scene shortly…


None of the witnesses (and there were plenty) even stopped to check on us, let alone stay to offer statement to the police. Just by coincidence, an FHP officer came by shortly but only stayed long enough to firmly instruct us to move our vehicles out of the intersection, and inform us that he would be calling Orlando PD to the scene.

Orlando PD took at least an hour to arrive. Then after hearing both sides, took another hour in their vehicle to fill out two short-form reports and issue a citation to me for failure to yield while making a left turn. The other driver received no citation, and I was deemed at fault. Given that they claimed to not check either of our driving histories, I’m really curious as to what took them so long in that process, but knew better than raise that issue with them on the side of the road.

Anyway, I say the wreck was “little” because there were no injuries, no cars involved other than the two of us, and no apparent mechanical damage to the vehicles. He’ll need a new headlight and turn signals, and just a little body/paint work to get things straightened out. I’ll definitely be needing some whole new body parts, along with the headlight and turn signal that was damaged.

While my car is mechanically fine (at least, not worse than it was, as far as I can tell) it’s not physically drivable. The damaged body parts are up against my front-right tire, and rub particularly nastily when trying to turn the wheels. Since my insurance coverage is liability-only, the insurance company will pay for the other driver’s damages but not mine.

So, now I’m left with a busted-up car that has a practically brand new suspension (from having to swap out the dead air ride system) and a freshly – albeit half-assed – rebuilt transmission, that’s got more body damage than it (or the aforementioned parts that have been repaced) is probably worth, and is not drivable. Further, I currently don’t have any means by which to pay for repairs to this vehicle, even to just “get it rolling” temporarily.

Even if I could just get it rolling, I don’t think I’d feel at all comfortable with that – not just from an aesthetic standpoint but also from a functional/reliability standpoint. Leaving stuff hanging out as it would leaves it all the more susceptible to damage from the wonderful summer weather we experience here in Florida (Read: Regular afternoon downpours.) and also make it more unstable against the wind drag experienced during my frequent highway commutes. (60 miles daily on a 65 MPH highway, when I can afford the tolls – or about the same distance, at an average 40-50 MPH, when I have to take non-toll roads)

So, I’m left with the decision: Get the car just barely fixed enough to drive until I can get it fully fixed (if that would ever happen) or get a replacement vehicle. The latter of the two options isn’t much doable, either. While I can probably squeeze enough out of my budget to make monthly payments on a used vehicle (for about the same price as I bought this one) I have no currently-known means of providing a down payment.

And that doesn’t even begin to address the issue of the ticket I got from the accident. Fortunately, my court experience on Friday (for which I had fortunately pre-arranged alternate transportation, since the car was supposed to be in the transmission shop) brightens up the prospects on that one a bit. I told the judge that I didn’t want to contest the speeding ticket, but couldn’t afford to pay it ($180+) either. Without any trouble, he assigned me 37 hours of community service, to be done for any non-profit organization, within 60 days. So, hopefully I can get a similar deal for the left-turn ticket if need be.

All this crap is leaving me pretty wasted, though. Support from home isn’t as great as I’d like, either. My mom insists I keep the car, while I continue to argue that a replacement may just be wiser and more economical in the long run. Without her support, my preferred option isn’t likely going to be possible. Even if it is possible, I don’t know that I’ll feel 100% comfortable doing it, despite the fact that it is what I have come to strongly feel is best for me and my own family! On the upside, my in-laws are being more graceful than expected when the issue is brought up, and my wife – who is usually hysterical through these kinds of times – is being much more supportive and reassuring than I’d normally expect.

Meanwhile, I’m limited on transportation resources for the commute to/from work while I figure all this out. The people who have been, are, or would be giving me rides are getting tired of doing so or being asked to, and quite frankly I’m sick of having to ask it of them as well.

I don’t know how much more of this shit I can take, really.


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My car, “Murphy”.

Posted by Iszi on June 5, 2007

Yup, I’ve named my car. Don’t know if I’ve already mentioned this, but his name is now “Murphy”. Let’s see how things have gone so far, since I’ve had Murphy…

  • Immediately or not long after purchasing the car, in which “everything worked” according to the the “dealer”:
    • Discovered turn signals/hazards didn’t work. Fixed at dealer’s cost.
    • Discovered stereo system to be malfunctional. Dealer said he would refer me to someone for repair. Not done yet. I’ve just been living with it.
    • Discovered radio antenna not working. Still not done either. Living with it.
    • Heard “clicking” sound coming from wheels. Suspected tie rod ends and replaced them, but no change. Currently suspect control arm bushings. Parts have been acquired. Installation pending.
    • ABS and Traction Control failed due to bad ABS wheel speed sensor. Have part, installation pending.
  • Late last year, the air suspension system started to leak and eventually failed completely. Replaced air struts with coil conversion kit.
  • About a month after fixing the suspension, lost 3rd and 4th gear in transmission:
    • Tried replacing MLPS. Still no good.
    • Tried replacing transmission with one from a ’98, working on a friend’s driveway. Various circumstances forced us to abort the operation. Drove the car in 2nd gear while searching for an alternative.
      • Meanwhile, replaced rear shocks which were completely toast.
      • Discovered malfunctioning aftermarket alarm system.  Disconnected it, and now the passenger power door lock won’t work.
    • Had another friend try installing the ’98 transmission at a Ford dealership, with adaptations for compatibility in the ’93 vehicle. “New” transmission failed shortly after installation.
    • I gave up and took the car to a local “Remanufactured Transmission” shop.
      • Tried re-building the ’98 with appropriate adaptations for compatibility. Transmission “shifted funny” according to trans shop owner.
      • Re-built old ’93 transmission, trans shop owner said it’s good. Over the past week and a half I’ve found:
        • Speedometer off by at least +10%. Suspect wrong speedometer gear accidentally used in rebuild
        • Transmission shifts late in full throttle.
        • Vehicle makes buzzing noise with light throttle, when in Park. Suspect valve body. Could be due to adjustments made during rebuild process. Also could be related to the late shifting problem. May or may not be related to previous transmission failures.

The good news is, the car is driveable for now. But, I don’t know how much downtime (and I’ve already had too much) will be needed to solve the remaining transmission issues. Fortunately, anything more to do with the transmission should be getting covered under the shop’s warranty.

After the transmission is free and clear, I’ve got parts and plans for:

  • Replacing upper and lower control arms in front.
  • Upgrading rear sway bar.
  • Replacing brake calipers, pads, and rotors.
  • Full tune-up.
  • Replacing ABS wheel speed sensor.

Hopefully, when I’m past all that I should have a car that (with good maintenance) will last me for a good few years to come. It’s just getting past the transmission that seems to be the big hurdle. My head is probably going to explode if it comes back from the shop again with any more problems after I take it in to be fixed next weekend.

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Time to get some stuff done.

Posted by Iszi on June 1, 2007

Finally, for the first time all day I actually feel like my brain has some capacity to process information and get work done.  I’m not sure what did it, but if it’s that Sudafed I took at 1, I’d have to say I’m very disappointed in the response time there.

Still, it’s not a moment too soon.  It’s 4:20, and fortunately I’ve got an hour to pick up from a short day earlier this week, so I’ll be working until 6 instead of 5.  So, maybe there’s still a chance to actually accomplish something today.  (Or at least, to feel like I did.)

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Posted by Iszi on June 1, 2007

I’ve gone to work sick before.  Actually had to work 3rd shifts at 7-Eleven on a flu for two weeks once.  Yeah, it was hell, but it was doable.

Oddly enough however, working in an office job with something even simple as the common cold seems to be a totally different beast to tackle.

This sucks.  6:00 better come quickly, and this cold had better be gone by Monday!

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