What a day yesterday. At 6:55am my girlfriend Vivian calls me, telling me that her car has broken down on the interstate, is smoking, and she’s got it off to the side of the off ramp. It sounds like the belt on her power steering snapped again. Another breakdown, just a month after the last one; my morning is off to a good start.
My mother, being closer than I was, picks Vivian up and takes her to work. Meanwhile, my rudely awakened brain is churning over what to do about this. I run all that’s happened through my head. In the past month:
1) The belt on the power steering/alternator has fallen off twice, and the pulley has been “fixed” twice.
1b) Stranding her both times.
2) A wheel bolt randomly sheered off on her right front wheel.
I work in Alpharetta and/or Atlanta depending on the day of the week, and she works in Canton. This means I’m always at *least* a hour from anywhere my girlfriend is going to break down during the day. I’ve had it. Her old piece of shit is too undependable in general to keep. It has to go.
I go to work and spend four fucking hours on a conference call, while looking for cars at Carmax and emailing back and forth to a sales agent there (I can’t talk to him on the phone, because I’m on the conference call… for four fucking hours ). By the time I leave work early to pick her up from work and try to get her car limped back down to Carmax, I’ve got her approved for financing and a car or two in mind to look at. The approved for financing thing is a big deal, because she’s a first time car buyer. This means the interest rate kinda sucks, but at least she can finally start building credit.
After picking her up I hit up the Advance Auto Parts for a belt and head down to where her car is trapped on the interstate on ramp. Due to the fact that it’s actually on the ramp, I have to overshoot her car and loop back up the interstate to even get to it. The first thing I notice when opening the hood is that the belt is the wrong size. In my rush, I failed to notice that they gave us the belt for the other of the two sets of accessories. Frustrated, I head to the nearest Advance Auto Parts about a mile away from her stranded car, swap out the belt for the one they were supposed to get us, and head back to her car again.
By this point, it’s 6:30pm. I told the Carmax guy I’d have her car limped down there by 6:45 or so, which is obviously no longer happening. I open the hood again and try to get the belt on. While I’m doing this, unfortunately after I’m already oily as shit and have grass-stains on my ass, I notice that there’s a greenish fluid everywhere that’s a bit more than would be normal for condensation. Remembering her “smoke” from earlier, I sigh, and look for what I now know must be there. And there it is, a blow radiator hose. A tow truck is called.
Right about this point the stress gets to Vivian, because she has a bunch of trash in her car and is stressed already by everything that’s going on, and suddenly becomes desperately afraid that if they see how trashed her current car is they won’t sell her a new one. So while I’m on the phone trying to get the tow truck lady to agree to just have the driver pick it up and drag it to Carmax without us present, so that we can go ahead and get washed up and down there to start test driving cars and looking around in general, Vivian is frantically trying to clean her car. She’s obsessed. She also gets bitten by an ant. This is the exact low point of our evening.
Once we’re back in my car and driving to Kennesaw so I can get the title to hers and change clothes, she calms down. We grab the title and head to Carmax; at this point, it’s 7:30pm.
To make the rest of the long story short, she test drives the 2003 Hyundai Sonata that I liked from the website, and the 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer with only 34,000 miles she liked from the lot. After I assured her that all Mitsubishis aren’t crap (the car we just had dragged down to Carmax was a 1995 Mitsubishi Galant with 126,000+ miles on at least two engines), she settles on the Lancer that she likes better. We get her car traded in for the pittance it’s worth, put down the down payment, sign the papers, and now she’s the proud owner of said Lancer! We also got the extended warranty through Carmax, so it’s covered bumper to frickin’ bumper for 5 years and/or until it has 100,000 miles on it.
We finally escaped Carmax at 10:30pm. The salesman we had was nothing but nice to us, considering he got off work at 8:00 and was still there when we left. I actually have nothing but good things to say about the experience, the price they gave us on her old car (which wasn’t even running when it got there; they still listed it as “mechanical condition consistent with age”), the price we paid on the new one, or the crazily cheap price on that extended warranty.
More pics at my website . Most of them were taken by Carmax, since I couldn’t take very good pictures in pitch darkness last night with my camera once we got it back to the apartment.