>Grand Am Grief

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I worked Wednesday night. Thursday morning I got in my Grand Am and drove home. Well, I drove most of the way home. I was five miles from my house when the engine shut off. I got the car to the side of the road and turned it off. I tried to restart it several times, but nothing worked. At this point (since I had about a ½ tank of gas and the car was cranking but not starting) I figured that my fuel pump had quit. I then used my emergency roadside insurance from State Farm for the first time. The tow truck arrived (the same company that towed our totaled van away in November 2008.) (No, this picture isn’t my car, it’s a junked-out DeLorean which I have placed on my blog to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Back to the Future. It seemed appropriate.)

I asked the tow truck driver to just put my car in the driveway, which is where it now sits. Even though I had been up all night, I spent the next several hours trying to diagnose and/or repair the car. I found out that the first step in fixing the fuel pump was to replace the fuel filter. This is not as easy as it sounds. I bought the filter for $11 and then spent an hour lying on my back at a -10 degree angle (because of the incline of my driveway) under my car switching out the filter. The bolt that held the old filter in place probably hadn’t moved since this car rolled off the line in 2001, so it was kind of tricky to get off.

Anyway, new filter installed, the car still didn’t start. I tested the ignition system, and found that I had “spark,” so it wasn’t that. I could hear a hum from the area of the tank when the ignition moved from OFF to ON, and the Schrader valve had gas spurting out, so it wasn’t the fuel pump. Just to verify, my father-in-law came over and squirted starter fluid into the intake while I cranked the engine: no start.

All this to say that I think the problem is the timing. I think the timing chain probably broke.

Q: How much does a new timing system cost?
A. $150.
Q: How much will a mechanic charge me to install a new one?
A: $900.
Q: How long would it take the mechanic to do the job?
A: About six hours.
Q: How long will it take me?
A: I don’t know, but I’ll tell you after I do it.

That’s right, boys and girls, after payday rolls around next Friday and I have a few free days, I’m going to take my engine apart, take out the bad part, put in new parts, and see if that fixes the problem. Am I a mechanic? No, but I am an intelligent person with some mechanical aptitude, and I have confidence that I can do this. What it boils down to is this: I don’t want to spend $900 to fix a 9 year old car with 150K miles. At the same time, I can’t afford to buy a new car. Oh, and I need new brakes, but that’s only $60 and I know how to do that (and have done it).

I have already rebuilt and/or fixed lots of things on this car. If I have to do very much more, I will have to get a blue shirt with my name embroidered on the pocket.

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About Steve Picray

I have been many things, but right now I am a registered nurse attempting to pay off my debt so that, God willing, I can be a pastor again someday. I have a wife and three kids. I am a conservative Christian (of the Baptist variety). This blog is about me: the things that happen to me, the things that interest me, and the things that bother me. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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