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What I Learned This Week – 3/19/17

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I am sure many of you were already aware of what I am about to tell you. But, this series of posts is called “What I Learned This Week”, not “What Everyone Else Already Knew.” So, ya.

I left work for my lunch break on Tuesday, something I don’t usually do. When I went to restart my car, it wouldn’t start. I’m a woman, so my only guess was my battery was dead, although it had started up just fine a half hour prior. And the dashboard lights were acting…unusual. They would all come on and sort of dance when I turned the key to try to start the car. Even where the “P” usually lights up to tell me it is in Park, it was cycling through and lighting up “R”, “N”, “D”, and “1” as well. It truly was the strangest thing.

I tried to jump it–nothing.

I have a cuter picture of it with a Christmas tree on top, but it would take me forever to find it.

I called in my husband, who while not a trained mechanic, totally understands engines and how to take them apart and put them back together. (I, on the other hand, believe they run on hamsters on wheels and fairy dust.) The crazy lights with the lack of success at jumping had him convinced it was an electrical problem.

During the next 24 hours, we proceeded to juggle the one remaining car and our two jobs and elementary school pick-up of M. I contemplated the hassle of having to pay a tow truck to tow my car the literally .3 miles my car died from the actual dealership. But as crappy as all that was, I have to admit the timing was actually fortunate because my husband was still home to assist me.

But while my husband was at work, I realized something…

In the old days when your battery died, it just died. Your headlights were weak, nothing would work. You could just jump it back to life and be on your way.

What I realized is that we don’t live in that time anymore. (Let me take this opportunity to reiterate that I don’t understand how a car engine totally works.) We live in a time where computers are ingrained into everything from our cars to our televisions to our electric toothbrushes. Computers are made by humans. Computers have unnecessary safety features. Computers fuck up.

I remembered that the second time my battery died in my beloved Aztek, I thought it had an electrical problem. Turned out that the battery got so low, that it tripped the anti-theft system. See what I mean about computers having unnecessary safety features?

So I hypothesized my battery had just gotten low enough that the car was like “Ya, we are done with this battery” without actually giving me a clear message that that was the case. Figuring that would be the least expensive option, I talked my husband into taking it to O’Reilly’s and getting it checked out. Sure enough, it was dead. After we spent some more time in a parking lot in a -10F degree windchill, it started right up.

The lesson this week kids is if your car is acting goofy and you have no idea how old your battery is, it may just be that you need a new battery. Your car is not your grandfather’s car. Unless, you know, it is. But if your family has children early, then chances are your grandfather’s car could be computerized as well. My family waits to have our offspring. My dad drove a Ford LTD from the 1970s. I am pretty sure it would have exhibited the standard blasé of a car with a dead battery. 🙂

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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What I Learned This Week – 5/31/15

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This week I learned that my car cannot get fixed if there is no Internet.

Can you believe that?

I mean, I understand that stores can’t load gift cards or access your EBT account without Internet, but car repair?

Typical dashboard warning lights

Typical dashboard warning lights

My car started doing very funky things on Memorial Day. Warning lights that I had never seen before and had no name for kept illuminating on my dashboard. (I literally have NIGHTMARES about this exact sort of thing.)

So, on Wednesday, after a rather large storm, mind you, I took my car in to get it looked at. The car dealerships Internet was down. With no Internet capabilities, they could not plug in my car to the diagnostic to see what was wrong. They could not access my warranty information to see if it was covered. So, I left my car there. The dealership was nice enough to give me a ride home. I assumed I would be picked up again by the end of the day. I didn’t get my car on Wednesday. Or Thursday, for that matter, although, to be fair, I did add another repair onto my order for the dealership. The warning lights only indicated that the sensor was bad, and needed to be changed.

My husband was disgruntled that I didn’t get a loaner car. I was grumpy because they had my car there to work on at their leisure. I assume they probably gave priority to the customers who were waiting in the lounge, repairing their cars first.

I ended up getting my car back on Friday. I mentioned my long wait to the cashier, hoping they had planned on giving me a discount or something. No, I just got an earful about how hard the outage had made her job :-/

I learned something else this week as well.

Let me tell you a little story. You know how sometimes you hear music in your head, like a certain song that just won’t stop? Well, in high school, I used to have Garth Brooks and George Michael singing in my head. At the same time. Singing different songs. This went on for weeks, maybe months. Long enough that I still remember it to this day. It made me realize that they both had really nice voices that actually went pretty well together. I also realized this dueling music in my head made it hard to concentrate on listening to the boring teachers.

I actually just found out today that this magic in my head actually became a reality back in 2000. I found the video below of Garth Brooks joining George Michael on the song “Freedom” at an event called Equality Rocks on YouTube. Garth shows up at the 2:30 mark. See below.

Have I mentioned that I was fortunate enough to see Garth Brooks in concert this year? Thanks Patti Keno!

Garth Brooks at Joe Louis Arena, 2015

Garth Brooks at Joe Louis Arena, 2015

My first book, The Wind Could Blow a Bug, is NOW AVAILABLE!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

[Pssst…Book 2, When You Least Expect It, is COMING SOON!]

Blatant Product Endorsement: Aquaphor

Aquaphor is a great, fast-acting, healing ointment made by Eucerin.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

I first discovered it when I got my second tattoo. My green-haired friend had always been told to use A&D ointment on her new tattoos, which is what I used on my first one. A&D healed everything up fine enough.

With my second tattoo, they offered to sell me this tiny white tub of ointment to use, called Aquaphor. I think it was like $5, which seemed like a lot at the time (but that is pretty much what it goes for in the store).

Aquaphor healed up my tattoo in record time! (It may have also helped that I didn’t wash the second one as often as I washed the first. Live and learn.) I think that first tube I had was “healing ointment.” I used it on everything until it was gone.

Aquaphor Baby

Aquaphor Baby

When that was gone, I had a baby, so I bought the Aquaphor baby variety, found in the baby aisle. It heals up diaper rash the fastest of anything that I have found. If you ration it out, that tiny tube will get you a long way.

But I missed the freedom of using it on chapped lips as well. The formulas do not seem to vary in consistency at all. But I was worried that since it was intended for baby’s butts, it would be bad if I put it on my lips and accidentally ate some.

Aquaphor Lip Repair

Aquaphor Lip Repair

So the other day I bought the lip care version. We used it on my son’s chapped upper lip after a nasty cold first (oops), so now it is sort of only for him. But I have been using it on my uber-chapped hands at night, and I can tell an improvement in an hour or less. Of course, they get a lot of dog hair stuck to them in the mean time…

According to their website, Aquaphor can also be used for athletic blisters, chaffing, windburn, and saddle sores. I am not an athlete. I cannot vouch for those uses in anyway. It is also apparently good for post-cosmetic surgery. Um–ya. I haven’t gone there either. It is also used by many with eczema or tender, diabetic skin.

Aquaphor is free of fragrances, preservatives (oh, so I should mind the expiration date, then?), and dyes.

This is a great product, that I feel like very few people know about. Hence, the blog post. From reading up on this product to write this post, I already have someone new in mind to recommend this product to.

With the super cold weather of last week’s snowpocalypse behind us, I just wish I had posted this sooner! To help more people!

Stay moisturized!

My Pseudo Dad

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As I have mentioned here before, my dad died before I was born. I grew up watching sitcom fathers on television. I went to my best friend’s house and watched her father (I can only think of one friend whose house I regularly visited in my my teenage years who had a father in their daily life).

What did I learn from all this observation?

I learned that a dad’s job is to make sure your car gets fixed properly.

I bought my first car in 1997. Since that time I have thought of the Service Manager at my local GM dealership as my Pseudo Dad.

pseudo
adjective
1. not actually but having the appearance of; pretended; false or spurious; sham.
2. almost, approaching, or trying to be.

http://dictionary.reference.com

He is old enough to be my Dad, but he is maybe 5 years younger than my mother. That would make him about 20 years younger than my actual dead dad.

You can’t argue with my logic. He always makes sure my car gets fixed.

Me in my first car. 1989 Pontiac Grand Am

Me in my first car. 1989 Pontiac Grand Am

I present to you some semi-boring examples of car repair below.

My first car, a 1989 Pontiac Grand Am, started making very bad banging sounds when I went over bumps. I thought it might be a problem with the shock. I was partially correct. The problem was a hole had rusted right through the trunk, and now my shock was actually in my trunk. I made arrangements to get it fixed the same afternoon. My pseudo dad called me that evening to tell me about a friend of his who could fix it at a discount for me. As I had already dropped my car off somewhere else, I didn’t take him up on it. In retrospect, I probably could have saved some money if I had taken his recommendation.

On one occasion, I took in my second car, a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am, to get the oil changed. It had been making a bad sound when I drove, but as I had no money to get it fixed, I was ignoring it. Well, it turned out it was a bad wheel hub or bearing or one of those things in your wheel that is expensive and goes bad regularly on all the Pontiacs I have ever owned. My Psuedo Dad wanted to fix it right then, but he could tell from my questions that that wasn’t my plan. He asked why, so I told him. I didn’t have any money until I got my paycheck, which would be a week away. He had the mechanic do the repair on my car. All I paid for that day was the oil change. They trusted me to come back in a week and actually pay them several hundred dollars, which I did. My husband would say that it was probably some sort of critical repair that they weren’t allowed by law to let me leave without repairing it. But no one told me that at the time. So I choose to believe that my Pseudo Dad was just trying to help me out.

On another visit to the dealership (Probably for an oil change. I am pretty diligent about those. 203,000 miles on my current car proves that it is a smart strategy.) with the same 1994 Grand Am, my Pseudo Dad noticed that I had a sock tied to my drivers side mirror. Now, there was a logical reason for this. A semi had ripped my side mirror loose in a freak freeway entrance ramp merge gone bad. It was only hanging from the cords that connected it to the handle inside the car for adjustment. I tied the sock to the mirror so that it would prevent/reduce the mirror from scratching up the paint on the side of my car as it bounced around. My Pseudo Dad asked me if that is how I was drying my laundry. He found it very amusing. I did eventually get the mirror replaced, but I never got it painted. So the replaced mirror was flat black and the original one was glossy black.

A few months back, I thought my 2004 Pontiac Aztek was dead for good. I went to run an errand. I shut my car off and ran inside. When I returned to my car, it would not start at all. I had had no problem starting it 5 minutes before when I was at home. And it started to do this weird buzzing thing, where the needles on all my gauges would bounce up and down in sync with the buzzing. I left the car and walked home. I was afraid it would blow up.  (That would have been REALLY bad.  I left it in the parking lot of my insurance agent.  If my car burns down their building, do they still have to pay out the insurance for my car?) The next day we made a plan to take it up to the dealership to pronounce it dead. My husband ended up letting the tow truck company take it back to their garage, because he thought maybe it was just the battery. (Just a battery? But the thing WAS TICKING LIKE A TIME BOMB!) When I called to cancel the appointment with my Pseudo Dad, he talked to me for about 10 minutes, explaining how to check the voltage to see if it was a bad battery vs. a bad alternator. And he explained how a low battery can set off the anti-theft device. (I was not even aware that my car HAD an anti-theft device!)

When it comes to car repair, Pseudo Dads and GM Service Managers know what they are talking about. I don’t think my Pseudo Dad is still the manager. I think he has stepped back and is helping to train the new manager. Which is fine, as long as he is still there. Hopefully his retirement and my purchase of my dream car, a Jeep Wrangler, will coincide with each other.

My Pseudo Dad does not have the conventional looks of a sitcom dad. But, I am proud to call him my fake dad. Except that I don’t tell him I think of him that way. Because, you know, that would be weird…

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