Sunday, August 9, 2009

Step 3

So I find out I have to register my car within two weeks of becoming a resident of California. But, first, I need a smog test. Go. Smog test, I tells my husband. No go. Huh? Check engine light on. Automatic fail. Great. I go traipsing down to the old DMV all naive and such so that I can pay the fees first so that I won't be forced to pay penalties. I take a number and wait two hours and then...


Three hundred thirty three dollars. There goes my sanity. It was fun while it lasted. I had just registered the car in Mississippi. And I suspect I was paying more because it was recently registered. And, well, out of state. So on top of the $270 I had to pay to MS, I have to pay CA Three Hundred Thirty-three Dollars. Plus fix a check engine light to get a smog test so that I can finish registering the car (and the green grass grows all around, all around). Yeah.

I didn't have all of the money so I asked how much I could pay and not worry about penalties. Can I pay part? Uh...I think so. Let me check. Yes! Hurray! So I paid half and got two months to pay the other half.

I called places based on free coupon offers. Never a good idea, I admit it. It was tested and Josh received the code. Something about a idle motor valve. However. That test was just to pull the code and not a full diagnosis to find out what part was causing the problem. Uh huh, right. Of course. Even though the coupon said it was for a computer diagnosis. What a waste of time. If I just wanted the code, I could already get that free from an auto parts store. Back to square 0.

I found a place online that had good reviews. I asked Josh to go there. He left the car with the place at 8 am, and at 4 pm the mechanic called and said he didn't know what the problem was. The piece that should be causing the problem (that idle valve thing) looked new and he didn't want to continue to throw parts at the problem. You see, he's honest and if that part didn't fix the problem he would have to swallow the cost. He wasn't the only one finding it difficult to swallow it. Anyway, he said to go to a dealership because his equipment wasn't sophisticated enough to diagnose the problem. Huh? Why is your business open? I called the dealership, all right. Two hundred seventy dollars. To. Tell. Me. What. Was. Wrong. Nothing else. Another bust.

So after that, I had Josh to call up places (why don't I call? why, in the world of men and their playthings, a young woman is less than a fool). Pick whichever one gives you warm, fuzzy feelings, I instructed. He got a lot of that first mechanic didn't know what he was doing and a couple of can't tell you over the phone; bring it in. He eventually found a place that he felt was worthy, after sleeping on it. He went to the mechanic, and it turned out to be the part that the other mechanic said couldn't have been the problem. Yay, Go Compentence! But, I was warned that the malfunctioning valve was probably covering up other minor problems and that we'd probably be back. How soon? A week or 6 months. We don't know. Turns out- 30 minutes. Yep. On the way to work the light comes back on. Well, at least I was warned.

After getting a part fixed, driving it (Check Engine Light!), getting a part fixed, driving it (Check Engine Light!), ad nauseum, over the next five days, the total price came to $420. For a check engine light that caused no noticeable problems. And that was with, the mechanic assured me, substantial discounts. So lets see...$420 + $333 is...too much money to register a car. But, silver lining. One and a half down, two to go.

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