Okay, so I’m not in Seattle proper, I’m technically in Bellevue….but after spending 3 years in Spokane as a teenager (and anther 18 months in Walla Walla) the entire northwest corner of WA is SEATTLE in my head, so bear with me if I don’t don’t use proper area names.
My friend C & her daughter CR came to pick me up at the airport Wednesday morning. While waiting for me to get my bag — that had been gate checked but not put back on the Jetway for retrieval — the check engine light came on and the car started to smell weird, but I couldn’t see anything smoking or visab
C is not fond of highway driving, so she gratefully accepted my offer to drive home from the airport. The car, a 2002 Honda Civic for those who care, didn’t want to start for me, but it has a chronic starter issue; I got it going and headed out of the airport. It felt like the transmission was going out. It didn’t want to go, the RPMs would go up, but it just didn’t want to go into the next gear. I couldn’t get it to go over 30 MPH and the burning hot smell was getting worse. I turned on the hazards and we limped to the closest exit and pulled into the Denny’s parking lot to make sure the car wasn’t on fire. When I popped the hood there were fine tendrils of smoke coming up around the engine block, but I couldn’t figure out from where it was coming. We decided it was best to just call roadside assistance and have to towed to a repair shop vs. trying to limp home on surface street going 20 miles an hour.
Because there were three of us, we had to wait almost 2 hours for a tow truck big enough to transport us all to the repair shop. We had an early lunch at Denny’s while we waited, and of course being Seattle a light rain started to fall just as the tow truck arrived.
Issue #1: I know this is probably just my issue, but the tow truck was unbranded. It was just a big, somewhat dirty, white flatbed tow truck. No name on the door, no number, nothing! In Texas we brand everything, our cows before and after they become steaks, our trucks, and in many cases ourselves. Even if you only make and sell 2 blingy tee shirts a year, you have a business name and it’s on the side of your truck with your phone number!
Also, as a woman who spends most of her time on the road alone I’m wary of service providers who don’t identify themselves as such. There is a reason that I have roadside assistance coverage on my insurance and know how to change my own tire!
The driver was a nice man, but English was not his first language. After the fact I felt sorry for C, it was her car, but I completely took over dealing with it. I helped the driver load the car onto the flatbed, it wouldn’t crank or turn over for me, so we had to winch it onto the truck. The roadside assistance people had given her the name of the repair shop they were suppose to tow the car to, but the driver said they hadn’t told him and he could tow it anywhere. He knew a guy right up the high that did good work and could take care of us. That made me uneasy, but we said okay, we didn’t the other guy at the other place either.
Sure enough, it was just up the hill. It didn’t look as much like a repair shop as it did an auto detail shop. Driver got out to talk to head guy, and was gone a long time. C & I both were a little worried, so since the guy thought I was C already, I finally just told the guy that my husband wanted us to go to the repair shop that we had initially been referred to by roadside assistance. Yes, I lied.
Back down the hill we go, to the repair shop we should have gone to at the beginning. Get the car unloaded and pushed into the bay. The repair guy, again very nice, English is not his first language either. His accent was so heavy and his voice so soft I really struggled to understand him. I explained what was going on, he agreed to run the codes on the car and see what was going on.
The blasted car started right up for him and drove without a problem!! We got the whole silly women don’t know anything about cars look and were told there were 3 issues and he though it would be more then $1000 to fix. He showed me the codes that pulled up on the diagnostic. The was in ignition issue and something with the crankshaft. I also finally understood him to say that there was a broken bolt on the axial that was dripping oil or fluid onto the exhuast and was making the horrible smell. He said it was fine to drive home.
After a few minutes of debate we decided to try and drive it home. We made it home safely and without any major issue.
Blasted car. I officially hate it.