Thursday, March 02, 2006

If it weren't for bad luck...

...I'd have no luck at all.

Yep. Seems that I have yet to ditch the horrendous streak of misfortune that plagued me throughout 2005. I'm seriously beginning to think that I'm laboring under some sort curse, because if not, then the scales have to balance back out sooner or later right?

This particular bit of misfortune revolves around my vehicle. For those who don't know, I drive a 1994 Toyota Corolla that I've had for 3-4 years now. To date, the only serious work I've ever had done on it was replacing a master cylinder on the hydraulic clutch about this time last year. It was due for a state inspection by the end of February, so I, of course, waited until yesterday, March 1st, to get it inspected. This time around, however, waiting so long was a mistake... and a big one at that.

I've been having issues for the past few months with the brakes on the car and how poorly it seems to stop. In particular, if I brake hard at all the wheels invariably seem to lock up and the vehicle goes into a skid. While skidding, it also, invariably, pulls to one side strongly. Now with my vast and unequalled ability to make mechanical diagnosis of car problems (despite the fact that I know almost nothing about the maintenance or repair of anything mechanical), I decided that my brakes probly just needed new pads and shoes and that it wasn't really a big deal.

I changed my braking patterns, drove a little more cautiously, and paid more attention to my driving rather than having it checked out and fixed right away, because I just couldn't afford to take the time off to go get it looked at and I figured it could wait. And it did, right up until yesterday when I took the car for inspection. I went in expecting to have to have some brake work done, but generally speaking, brake work isn't all that expensive, so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal.

Unfortunately, everything that I had assumed was very, very wrong. It was not, in fact, my brakes that were the problem... it was a wheel bearing. A wheel bearing that was in such bad shape, that driving my car for any reason at all, ran the distinct risk of the wheel coming off altogether. This was bad enough. My car is completely undriveable until it's repaired, which they couldn't do yesterday. This is also considerably more expensive than the brakework I'd expected to have to have, the estimate puts the damages at around $115.

If things had stopped there, it would have been unpleasant, but not horrible, so of course, there had to be something more wrong than that. They also informed me that I had an exhaust leak but they weren't sure at that point where the leak was. Fifteen minutes later, the other shoe dropped: my exhaust leak turned out to be a cracked exhaust manifold. They even took me under the car and pointed up at the manifold, showing me the crack, it was easily visible to the naked eye, but could have been worse. Based on what they saw from under the car, they suggested that they could take the manifold off and weld the crack. All told, all that would cost me was labor, and not much of that, until they took the car down and looked at the manifold from the top... where it turned out that the one crack they saw underneath was the least of the problems. The entire manifold was spider-webbed with cracks and there were way too many of them to weld it.

So, they're looking for a manifold for me. One that isn't going to cost what a brand new, off the shelf manifold would cost me at a the local auto part shops. (It's $140 there, by the way, just for the part.) It'll take them at least 3 days to get one, and they aren't sure what it'll cost yet. Yay.

Other than that, I also have to go get a tire replaced and replace a burned out tag and tail light. So that, in the end, my $13 inspection sticker is probably going to end up cost me several hundred dollars. Several hundred dollars, I might add, that I simply do not have at the moment, several hundred dollars that I'm going to have to borrow from my mother until my income tax return check comes back. And again, yay.

I'm beginning to think that Murphy hates me.


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