Tag Archives: automotive

But, All The Money I Saved

What did I accomplish this weekend?  My plan was to work on the car.  When I last had my brakes done, the service center gave me a list of what else needed fixed on my 10 yr old, 300k mile car.  One item of note was the valve cover gasket.  It was leaking.  The other items were like $3k of work.  But a gasket, I can handle that.  Unbolt the valve cover, replace gasket, bolt cover back on.  One hour, tops.

That’s all well and good for “normal” cars.  The MX-5 is anything but normal.  Changing a headlight bulb on a normal car is popping the hood, taking out the old bulb and putting in a new one.  Changing a headlight bulb on the MX-5 means jacking up the car and taking the wheels off.  It’s utter bullshit.  So listen to me when I say that if you’re going to change the valve cover gasket on an MX-5, you have to take off the windshield wipers.

I started the project pretty optimistically.  I started with the obvious things.  Take off the spark plug coils.  Ok, I can see the sway bar crossbar needs to come off.  Ok, the rest of the sway bars need to come off as well.  Ok, now the AC hoses are in the way, let’s unbolt those.  How do I even get to these back bolts?  There’s a steel panel that has to come off to get at those bolts.  That means I have to take the cowl off.  Off come the wipers, off comes the cowl.  Off comes another plastic drainage piece.  Still no room to work.  Off comes the windshield wiper motor.  Finally, off comes the center plate blocking the access to the rear bolts.



About this time, I was pretty well pissed off.  Every bolt or nut I take off is one that I have a high probability of dropping into the engine bay, never to be seen again.  Every part I take off is potentially one I could either forget to put back or put back in the wrong order so I have to take it back off again.  While taking a break, I refer to the service quote for my car.  How much am I actually saving for this hassle?  $200.  200 fucking dollars.  There’s no way this job can be done in $200 time.  The gasket itself is like $25.

I finally get everything off and all valve cover bolts loosened and the cover won’t come off.  All the videos I saw online, the cover just pops off.  Not mine.  And you’re discouraged from trying to pry it up, either.  My workaround was to run a nylon zip tie through an unused hole on the corner of the cover and pull up.  With a loud pop, the cover broke free.  Finally, some progress.

The gasket was in poor shape, yes.  It was hard, dry, and brittle when I pulled it out, to the point of splitting multiple times as it got pulled.  Replacing the gasket felt pretty good in comparison.  Despite the difficulty of the work, I feel this should have been done at least once before on this engine.  I added the silicone sealant as I’d seen in videos, which differed from the official service bulletin, but was consistent with the sealant residue left on the engine from the original gasket.  After tightening down all the bolts in the specific order needed, I gave up for the day.  That was four hours of work.

The next day, I got to reassembly.  It went a lot smoother and I made no mistakes while fitting all the pieces back in.  That’s not to say it was easy.  The plastic cowl covering the wiper motor and holding the washer hoses was a real pain in the ass.  I know it’s now not as good as it was before, but it’s livable.  And I was left with one bolt left over.  I purposely did not put it back in because it was in a terrible location and only held a bracket for an electrical connection that I had broken off anyway.  No sense replacing a bracket that can’t hold anything.

My initial startup test didn’t show any leaks.  My post-reassembly drive didn’t show any leaks.  My drive to dinner and back presented some slight oil burning smell, but that could be left over oil from the work.  I didn’t see anything leaking around the cover.  The first spark plug well had a substantial pool of oil in it when I started.  I mopped most of it out, but couldn’t get all of it.

In the end, that was over 6 hours of work.  It would have definitely been worth the $200 to have the dealer install it and not have to worry about possibly doing it wrong, nor getting covered in dirt and oil, nor back pains from stretching and bending over an engine bay for hours.  But I did get to use my tools.  They did their job quite well.

You Get What You Pay For

In posts leading up to this one, I’ve been talking about my garage and new cars.  Well, I finally got the new car and got in it the garage, only barely.

img_20191023_185442 img_20191023_185500

And I mean barely.  And with that car in the garage, there is no room for the other car.  I’m supposed to have a 2-car garage, and even so, I would classify the MX5 as a half-car, but still, there’s not enough room.  So that’s that.

Now, all about this new car.  As you see, it is a station wagon.  There’s only a handful of wagon models you can buy new in the US right now, and this particular one, a Buick Regal TourX, gets zero marketing and has zero recognition.  I saw this car once on display in a mall back in 2018, and have never seen one since.  So suffice to say, this is a rare vehicle.

The TourX is rare because it’s really low production volume.  There’s aren’t many buyers for wagons, so dealerships don’t order many and so no one ever buys them and the cycle feeds on itself.  When I decided on a car to buy – a wagon – I looked at my available options and this one was the most economical.  Well, it was economical for reasons relating to its unpopularity.  Dealers wanted to sell these things and not so they could order more; they just wanted rid of them.  In my own research, I saw that the 2020 model is coming soon and there are still 2018 models being sold new.

I haven’t purchased a car in nine years.  This time around, I utilized a car buyer service – a person who would search for my car, negotiate a good price, manage all the paperwork with the dealer and basically make the process as easy as possible for me.  When I first got started, I laid out all my criteria and within an hour, he had found me a car.  When he ran the numbers, I was pretty underwhelmed.

The TourX can run up to $40k with all available options, and that is what this particular car had.  So, $40k MSRP and with all discounts and haggling, I could get it for $35k.  After all the taxes and fees were added in, I would pay $38k.  I don’t know… I understand taxes and stuff, but a final price only $2k less than MSRP didn’t do it for me.  And it was about $6k more than I was willing to finance anyway.  So I turned it down.

The buyer went back to work and found another car with fewer options (but all the ones I wanted).  The MSRP was $38k, sale price of $31k, final price of $34k.  That was doable, so I agreed to the offer and we went through the complete sale process, which wasn’t all that bad.  The car was transferred from one dealership to another where I would actually make the purchase.  I gave it a brief test drive and no red flags were raised, mechanically.  The car did have roof racks, which I didn’t want, but I determined I could just uninstall them.  And after two hours at the dealership, I went home with a new car.

It’s been a couple days now, and some of the reality is hitting me.  The first weird thing I experienced was a warning popping up on my dash: washer fluid low.  Ok, whatever,  I can buy a $3 jug of fluid and top it off.  I would have assumed the dealer would have checked all that stuff during the “dealer prep” or whatever that BS service is.

When I popped the hood to fill the washer fluid, I was left aghast.  There were leaves all jammed up under the cowl.  Not just a few leaves, literal handfuls of leaves.  And the plastic shrouds throughout the engine bay were not just dusty, but had a layer of dirt on them.  This hood had not been raised in many, many months.  Yes, the exterior of the car had been washed and the tires glossed up, but there was no detailing of this car in any sense of the word.

As I was pouring the washer fluid in, my astonishment grew.  It just kept taking it.  I poured the entire gallon.  All of the washer fluid in the reservoir had evaporated in the time this car was sitting on the lot.  And the mass of leaves reaffirmed just how long the car was sitting idle and suggested it was not even stored on the primary lot, but in a grass lot back by a tree line.  I found out where the original dealer was located and did some quick math on the mileage for transportation and my test drive. I then determined this car had never been driven once.  It left that original dealer on its way to me with probably about 10 miles on the odometer.

This poor car.  It came to the dealer and was completely neglected for its entire life.  Yeah, yeah, of course cars don’t have feelings, but everything deserves a small level of care.  And a dealer should care for each and every vehicle in their possession.  These are going to be in someone’s family soon (or not soon in cases like this), and they deserve to be treated well until that time comes.

Now, I feel a little conflicted.  I mean, I got a great deal on a car – $7k off sticker price – and I didn’t have to deal with salespeople or haggling.  It was a very low-effort transaction and I can recognize it was probably a low-profit transaction for the dealer.  But at the same time, I still would expect one of the two dealers involved would have opened the hood and at least noticed the mess, or checked the fluid levels.  The bottom line is that I feel like I purchased a car from auction and not from a dealership.  Was I expecting to build a relationship with that dealer?  No way; they are 40 minutes away from my house.  I have dealerships closer to my home and my workplace I would utilize first.  Did I still expect to be wowed by the “new car purchase experience”, where I can show the car off to everyone?  Sure.  I mean, doesn’t everyone pop the hood and show off how clean and new everything is (instead of dirt, leaves, and a post-it note that says “do not turn off”)?  Show off every feature of the car like the power liftgate (which would reveal dusty and dirty rubber seals)?

But, I got a good deal, right?  Now I just need to spend some personal capital on a detailed cleaning of every inch of the vehicle.  Then the TourX will be mine and it won’t need to dwell on its miserable early life alone in a back lot.

My Car’s Second Life

A while ago, I posted about my car’s 300k mile milestone.  Since then, a few things have been in play that have some relation and interaction.  The first is my scheduled garage re-conversion.  This will give me a safe place to store my car and work on it out of the elements.  The other thing is a more or less finalized decision to get a second car, one made for hauling and touring.  That will give my primary car a chance to rest, so its mileage won’t be climbing as quickly – although honestly, it will probably still be my daily driver.  With these two changes, it almost feels like my car is getting a second chance at life, even though it’s at 300k+.  To support this idea, I’ve been planning and working to rejuvenate my car for its second trip around.

When I first got the MX5, back in 2010, I made a series of customizations to make the car my own.  I changed out the upholstery to a custom leather, I changed the antenna, and finally, updated the stereo.  Time has really worn on these changes.  The antenna, once black aluminum, is more or less silver aluminum now.  The leather seats have worn through.  The stereo doesn’t seem to be playing any sound from the left speaker.  And on top of those bits of wear, the leather on my steering wheel has been worn out and torn off for many years now.  I’ve had the thought of rewrapping it, but never quite got around to it, because the stitching is something I don’t feel I could do adequately.

So I’ve got a plan.  First up is the steering wheel.  A new leather wrap is about $120, plus whatever time it takes to stitch it.  They say to budget 12 hours.  Yeah, no.  So what if I took it to an upholstery shop?  The place that sells the wraps will do it for $140 and has a two day turnaround time.  Well, maybe I should wait until I get the second car.  Or, I could buy a junk wheel and have them wrap that one, so my car isn’t unavailable.  Hmmm.

I do a quick search on Ebay and find a replacement factory wheel for $95 shipped.  And the leather on it is perfect.  So, why don’t I just buy that and swap wheels?  It’s far cheaper.  And that’s what I did.  The wheel is on its way.  Soon, I’m going to have a brand new wheel with new leather on it.  And this time, I will preserve it by wearing my driving gloves, so my skin oils don’t destroy the leather again.

Now, the seats.  This one is easy, because I never got rid of the original leather.  It took me a weekend to swap the leather the last time, so I can budget the same this time.  And just like that, the car will look brand new with fresh leather on the seats and wheel.  That leaves the shift knob.  Damn, these are expensive.  $200?  Well, maybe that part will have to wait.  And the antenna?  I’ll just return it to stock; I never got rid of the original, either.

And then the stereo.  Originally, I installed a low-profile subwoofer under the passenger seat, but the sub actually interfered with the airbag sensor, because it was too tall, so I took it back out.  The amplifier was always mounted in the trunk.  Well, after all this time, now the amp is just sitting on the floor of the trunk flopping around loose.  I can now relocate the amp to under the passenger seat and regain my full trunk space, which also means putting back my emergency kit (flat tire and hard-top failure repair).  More returning to stock.

After all this is done, and I have a garage and I have my car’s interior sorted out, the next thing is to get the MX5 repainted.  The fiberglass panels on the car have suffered considerably and the paint is completely ruined on them.  Getting a fresh coat of paint on the whole car, getting the marks and etching of lovebug carcasses off the front bumper, having a garage to keep the car out of the elements, replacing the worn leather parts of the interior,  it does seem like a complete rebirth of the vehicle.  A deserving one for a car that has served me so well and has been through so much with me.

This Blows. Or Doesn’t.

If you have been following along, I’ve had some issues with my car, specifically the heating/cooling system.  Going way back, I had a dealership repair shop tell me once that I needed a new blower motor because that’s where the “hissing” sound was being caused.  I knew that was bullshit because the hissing was the AC condenser (or evaporator, I can never get those two straight).

Somewhat recently, the blower fan started a ticking sound, that would speed up and slow down with the fan speed.  I started to think, ok, this is where it needs to be replaced.  But, I also knew it could be debris stuck in the fan.  So before I actually ordered a new fan, I pulled out the blower motor.  As far as replaceable parts in my micro-vehicle, this is one of the easiest.  Crawl in the passenger footwell, unplug a wire harness, remove three screws and done.  I wish it was all that easy.

When I did drop the motor out, it came with about half a dozen dried up leaves.  No motor problems.  That saved me a little money.  A new OEM fan is about $150.  A new aftermarket fan is $50-$75.  But right now, it was unneeded.

Then, a couple days ago, I was out driving and upon starting up the car after a store visit, there was no AC.  Not just no AC, there was no fan.  This is worse.  I clicked the fan switch on and off to no avail.  I could hear the AC compressor kicking on when I turned the fan switch, it’s just the blower fan wasn’t moving.  Ok, I’m no stranger to driving all day with no AC, especially this year, so I headed straight home for troubleshooting.

At home, I dropped the motor quickly and used a simple test light to see if power was getting to the motor.  That would identify if it was a fuse or the motor.  Yes, power was being sent.  I plugged the fan back in and switched the fan on.  No movement.  I touched the fan blades and the slight bump I gave started the motor spinning.  Ugh, so the motor just can’t get started.  Oh well – replacement time.

I went straight to EBay and evaluated my options: the new OEM or the new aftermarket.  Price was a concern, but speed of delivery was more paramount.  The frontrunner was a $55 aftermarket, but it would take 2 weeks to arrive.  I could pay $20 for priority shipping, with no guarantee it would get here more than a day earlier.  The winner turned out to be option 3 – a used OEM part.  $62 with guaranteed delivery in 3 days.  It was a good balance of speed and quality.  I usually don’t shy away from used parts on a used car, it’s almost more logical that way.

So, while I’m waiting for this fan part, things are a little more critical for me.  Without AC, sure I was suffering, but without any ventilation at all, it’s a hazard.  If it starts raining, I’ll have to roll up the windows and the glass will fog up immediately.  I will have no way to defog the glass.  The best I’ll be able to do is carry a towel with me and wipe the windshield when I can.  That’s not something I’m interested in doing at 80mph on the state highway to hell.  Seriously, it was ranked 2017’s deadliest highway in the US.

Please get delivered early…

An Unmissed Milestone

It was April, 2013 when I hit my first milestone in my car.


I honestly don’t remember when the second milestone was hit, but I do remember I was kind of upset about it because I missed it.  I have no photographic evidence it happened.  This time around, I wasn’t going to miss it.

And I did not.  I actually took a picture every mile leading up to the rollover.  I won’t bore you with those pictures because they’re moot with the final picture.


This is kind of a big deal for me, especially since I’ve never owned a car that even got to 200k.  For sure, this is the best car I have ever owned.  I’m starting to get the itch for a different vehicle lately.  Mostly, because the MX-5 is not well suited for long highway drives.  It’s rough and loud, like a sports car should be.  I’ve lived it and enjoyed it for nine years now, but I’m ready to relax a little more.  Not that I’ll be getting rid of the MX-5.  It will still be in the stable for cooler days and evenings.

So in the nine years and 300k miles, what’s been done to the car?  You would imagine as it gets up there in years and miles, some stuff is going to begin failing.  Here’s a list of major repairs I’ve had done.

  • New engine at 75k (my fault for driving into a flooded street).  You might say this invalidates the 300k claim, but it’s still 300k on the body.  And I’ll get back to you at 375k.
  • New starter in 2018
  • New cooling fan in 2019
  • New radiator in 2019 (my fault)
  • 2x AC recharge
  • 2x spark plug changes
  • 2 new MAF sensors
  • New o2 sensor
  • Permanent air filter, cleaned 2x
  • Brakes, rotors, tires, many times over
  • New struts all around
  • New headlight/fog light bulbs
  • New headlight lenses
  • New rear view mirrors (because someone snapped one off, not exactly a mechanical failure)
  • New key (yeah, I wore out the key)
  • On the short list: AC blower fan is near failure

That pretty much all I can recall.  It’s not too bad; all things that you might expect.  I’ve kept up on fluid changes, so things should be pretty good going forward.

The next adventure, when it’s time, is going to be a sportwagon.  It seems after my initial experience with standard vehicles, I prefer the unconventional.

Not A Fan – You Thought I Was Capable

If you had read the previous post about issues with my car’s cooling fan, you might have the impression that I had a clue as to what I was doing and everything was going to be awesome.  Well, think again.  If you thought things were pretty ridiculous before, the sequel kicks it up a notch.

To recap quickly, my car was lacking heat, so I got the thermostat replaced, then the car started overheating, which I determined was caused by a large frog stuck in the cooling fan.  Then, the car started overheating again, which I determined was the fan blades separating from the fan motor.  When we left off, I was going to save myself hundreds of dollars by installing the fan myself.  Silly me.

To start the task off right, I begin working on the car in the late afternoon on a weekday instead of first thing in the morning on a weekend.  You know, giving yourself a few hours with no backup plan for the next day is the proper way to work.  And I got to disassembling and removing all the pieces involved.  That only took about half an hour, which is reasonable.

What became unreasonable very quickly was how many hoses and wires were secured to the fan assembly and additionally, how little space was gained by removing everything I did.  There simply was not enough space to get the fan out.  Not without removing the front bumper, that is.  And is that what I wanted to start with the sun going down?  No.  So I put everything back together for the night.

One of the pieces that I had to take out was the ECU, which is the brains of the car.  After I got done reassembling everything, I planned to give the car a quick start to reset everything.  The reason for that is when you disconnect the ECU, there is some recalibration that the engine has to do on first startup.  But, for whatever reason, I got distracted and didn’t remember until after it was dark outside.

When I did remember, I tried to start the car and it was dead.  The warning lights were lit up everywhere and the gas gauge didn’t move.  Well, this is a wonderful turn of events.  It’s now dark out, I have to go to bed to go to work tomorrow and I have no working vehicle.  I wondered if I somehow fried the ECU while I was working on it.  If so, that’s the end of this car.  But I can’t think about that now.  I have to get to work tomorrow.

I go online and get a rental car for a week.  The next morning, I use Uber for the first time to get to the rental office.  Days go by and I finally return to the car to find out what’s wrong.  My primary thought was that I reversed the plugs to the ECU and I hoped that didn’t ruin it.  When I dug down into the car and got to the ECU, I discovered you can’t mix up the plugs in any way.  So now what?  I posted a question on a car forum asking for help and the unanimous response was, dead battery or bad battery connections.

The next day, I pulled the battery and charged it up (from 95% to 100%, so I doubted that was the problem).  When I went to reinstall the battery, I looked at the terminal clamps.  The negative clamp had a thick layer of corrosion around the inside of it.  It wasn’t noticeable from the outside, but clearly it was interfering with the electrical connection.  A quick effort with some sandpaper cleared that up right away and boom, the car started right up.  I’m back in business!

I decide to make the most of my car rental and drive it for the remainder of the week.  Monday, I returned the rental and got back to the house.  I started up my car and headed out to lunch.  A few miles down the road, the engine starts overheating.  Not a problem, I crank the heat and fan like I normally do to cool it down.  But no heat is coming out, and the temperature is climbing very quickly.

I make a quick decision to head back home and since I can’t make it back before the engine would seriously overheat, I stopped in a parking lot to let it cool down.  Since I can’t get any heat from the engine, I make the diagnosis that I introduced some air into the system while I had all the hoses disconnected.  That would prevent the coolant from circulating into the heater core.  Once I got the car home and let it cool, I could “burp” the system and get the air out.

Mid afternoon (again), I start the burping process.  I add some water into the reservoir and begin.  But still, no heat before the engine begins overheating.  I check the reservoir and it’s empty again.  I add more water.  And more water.  Where did all the coolant go?  I hear it gurgling.  Then, with reservation, I look under the car and see where all the coolant is going.  On the ground.

I don’t remember missing any hoses when I was putting everything back together, but I checked anyway to see if there were any loose connections.  There was one.  Except it wasn’t loose, it was snapped off.  Apparently when I was yanking on the fan assembly, trying to get it out, I snapped off one of the connections to the radiator.  The reality hit me like a sack of money.  Now I had to buy a new radiator.  That’s it.  I give up.  I call and reserve another rental car.  Get another Uber ride to get the car.  Then I broke down and called a mechanic to replace the radiator and install the cooling fan.

Let’s now summarize how much money I saved by doing this work myself.  Initially, I was estimating $700 to have a dealer replace the fan.  I bought a replacement fan for $150.  I was confused by a bad battery connection and spent $300 on a rental car for a week.  The new radiator and install is about $900.  Plus my second rental car, which will be about $150.  Plus towing the car to the mechanic, maybe $50.  It will literally cost me more than twice as much to do this myself.

As it turned out, my insurance’s roadside assistance considers rendering your car inoperable in your own driveway a valid roadside assistance request, so my tow was free.  I got the call from the mechanic the same day that my car was ready, but the rental office was closed, so I just planned to pick it up the next day after work.  The bill was actually less than I was quoted, so I assume they found the radiator cheaper than it was estimated.

I was able to drive all the way to work with no overheating and AC on, so I think it was a successful fix.  The AC is hissing now, so I think I’ll need to pick up a recharge kit and… wait a minute.  $50-some dollars for a recharge kit and the chance for me to ruin something else, or $100 to have a professional recharge it.  I think I’ve finally learned my lesson here.

The Fan, Of Which I Am Not A Fan

In the middle of a record-breaking heat wave, I’m going to go without AC in my car.  Not by choice, mind you.  This situation is the result of a series of issues, not unlike tumbling down a hillside.

The first issue, quite ironically, was that my car didn’t have any heat.  Initially, it didn’t have heat for an extended period, then it had none at all.  You would think this wouldn’t be a problem in the middle of summer here, but it actually is.  My complaint was that in the morning, when it is cool and foggy, you need to use the defroster to clear your windshield.  Without heat, I was just blowing pure AC at the glass, which made it fog up – on the outside.  So I would have to run my wipers for about 20 minutes until I got some heat to balance out the temps.  And also, during that time, I am freezing my ass off.

I know that this symptom can be caused by a failed thermostat, which prevents the warm coolant from getting to the heater core inside the car.  So I went to the shop and requested to get the thermostat changed.  It was much more expensive than I expected – $400 – but I agreed to it.  While they had everything disassembled, they said the coolant had sediment in it which probably caused the failure and they recommended a coolant flush.  Fine, now it’s $500.  Whatever.

The next day, I had heat.  Things were back to normal.  On the drive home that day, I suddenly had heat when I shouldn’t have.  My AC turned warm and my engine temperature gauge started climbing.  I followed the standard procedure for engine overheating, which was to roll down the windows, crank the heat and fan to max and roast in the convection oven until the engine cools down.  At the time, I thought it was a fluke because I was stuck in traffic and it was a ridiculously hot day.  But the next day was just as hot and the car overheated again at a stop light.

I called the shop and asked if they could have a look at it, since this wasn’t happening until they did their service.  They agreed, but when I showed up, they were too busy to see me that day.  So I went home and determined to troubleshoot it myself.  My first thought was that they left the cooling fan harness unplugged, because I hadn’t heard the cooling fan run since the service.

I took the car apart and was somewhat disappointed to see the cooling fan plugged in.  But the fan still wasn’t turning.  I moved the fan blades and found out why.  There was a large, desiccated flog jammed in between the blades, preventing it from turning.  After extricating the frog carcass and changing out the fuse which had blown from the motor being blocked for an extended period, I thought I was golden. 

The next day, I was sitting in the car, talking on the phone for about half an hour, and the AC went warm again, the temperature gauge climbed again, and this time, there was a piercing smell of burning plastic.  Things have gone from bad to worse.  Over the weekend, I pulled everything back apart and found the fan blades had detached from the motor shaft.  I assume the burning smell was the shaft spinning freely against the plastic and melting it like a Dremel.

Ok, I now have to replace the fan assembly.  A quick search online suggests that this is a $700 service at the dealership.  But, but, I can buy a new fan assembly for only $150, and the install is just unbolting about four things and dealing with a few clips.  I made a quick purchase from EBay for the new fan and my heart sank when I got the order confirmation email that said delivery would be in about two weeks.  That’s a long, long wait in Internet time.

And now I wait.  And I have to keep alert in the car to make sure it’s not overheating.  And I have to drive with the windows down, like it’s the 1950’s and AC isn’t standard equipment.  It’s so retro.

Fuck You, Reflection Of Myself!

There’s been a recent raft of shit going on at work lately.  When I say shit, I mean literal shit, but I don’t mean there’s a literal raft involved.  This shit affects me, and a couple of my co-workers, but it isn’t a co-worker’s shit.  It’s simply a matter of mistaken identity and unwarranted aggression from an idiot doing idiotic things.  Fucking bird.

It’s a stupid female cardinal that must have a nest of stupid cardinal babies in a nest in a tree above our cars.  And at various times times during the day, this helicopter mom, this smotherfucker, swoops down to our cars because it sees itself in our rear view mirrors.  It then proceeds to flap around and attack its reflection in the mirror.  I’m not sure if the shitting part is because the bird thinks it won or because it thinks it’s losing the fight, but our cars all have bird shit on the doors from the fight.  I can see marks on my window from the feathers flapping furiously in a highly-alliterative sentence.


I’ve even been in the car during the attacks.  I’m just chilling out, using my new Android phone, which has been a big pile of meh, and I’ll see bitch bird flapping and pecking around at the car beside me, or sometimes it comes to my car.  Bitch bird stands on the door’s window sill and makes a big fuss over the other bird in the door mirror.  It makes me wonder about about the canary I had as a little kid.  Was it cruel to put a mirror in the cage and laugh when the bird pecked at it?  I was told that birds liked to look at themselves.  This stupid bird sure doesn’t.

So, to keep my car door from getting shat all over, I started covering up my mirror with a cleaning rag.  That seemed to work except the bitch went over to the passenger side to fight. So I need two cleaning rags.

Black Knight Of The Highway

I had an incident a couple of years ago where I was involved in a collision on the highway.  I was going full highway speed and got rear-ended by someone going much faster.  This morning, I had another collision, with slightly different circumstances.

I’m doing my usual morning commute to work and just about ready to turn off at my exit.  Something catches my eye and I look in the rear view mirror and a semi truck is right on my ass.  The truck had moved into my lane to pass another semi that was to my left.  I look in the mirror and say, “You motherfucker.  Why don’t you get a little closer.”  So he did.

Now, I’m saying, “Whatever, fucker.  You can wait until I get off in a few seconds.”  But he didn’t seem to care.  He got even closer.  Even more pissed off, I put on my turn signal to let him know I’d be out of the way soon.  What I did not consider is that I am a tiny, tiny car.  He is a massive semi truck.  Not that it’s any absolution, but he probably never even saw me.  His huge hood probably blocked me from his view entirely.  And so, it’s probably no surprise what happened next.

I got bumped.  My car swerved to the right, into the exit lane and he pulled up alongside me.  I’m still not sure if he even noticed me at this point.  I sped up alongside him and blared my tiny, tiny horn at him, but I doubt he even heard it.  The median guardrail was coming up quickly, so I had to abort and stay in the exit lane, leaving him to go on his (probably) oblivious way.

At the stop light at the end of the exit lane, I immediately jumped out and checked the damage to my car.  It’s just some very minor scuffing on the bumper that can probably be polished out.  I went the rest of the way to work and it was at that time, I realized I left my phone at the house.  This will be a great day.

But you know what?  I have a dash cam.  Granted, it doesn’t have a rear-facing camera, but I still have evidence I was hit.  Just as an aside, a rear dash cam would be outrageous.  Everything scary and crazy always happens behind me.  So, in the parking lot at work, I saved the segment of the incident and later, I reviewed the video.  The quality is pretty good.  I am able to make out the trucking company name and their DOT license.  Hopefully that’s enough of a lead to make this guy’s life miserable.

In the time I’ve had to think about this, my thoughts on the event have changed.  My initial thought was that I got bumped because I was going too slow for this truck driver and he was impatient to pass this other truck.  As I’ve thought more about it, it’s probably just that I was invisible to him.  Again, that doesn’t make him any less at fault here.  But, it does make me extremely lucky that when the truck moved into my lane, I was in the position I was.  If I was in his blind spot when he changed lanes and he was that close to my rear when he came in, it’s not unfathomable that I could have been a foot or two farther back and he would have clipped my rear bumper, sending me into a spin.  Things could have been far worse.


Let me be clear.  I don’t hate you as people, I hate you as drivers and the people you become when you start driving.  Seriously, you do not think of what the consequences could be.  Every time you change a lane, that is an opportunity to sideswipe someone.  Each time you are checking the lane you want to get into, you are not checking the lane you are in and the cars in front of you.  Every time you speed up into a passing lane (especially to the right), you have the chance of finding traffic stopped in front of you in that new lane.  If you’re a large truck, you need to look beside you and not just behind you when changing lanes.


And you, Mr. Red Truck, working for Trimac Transportation Inc., you’re going to hear from me very shortly.

Cosmetic Surgery

What seems like forever ago, BMW added halos to their car’s headlights and the world went apeshit.  They had a poignant ad campaign focused on the headlights with a deep message like, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”  Oooooo.

I recently changed out the headlight lenses on my car because they were completely fogged over; they were almost useless.  And let me stop you here, the fogging was on the inside of the lenses, so buying one of those polishing kits would not have fixed it.

The lenses were not cheap – at all.  A little over $800, if you’re wondering.  They took a significant amount of time to even get shipped to me, then they sat in my garage for weeks until I had a free weekend to do the work.  And the work has now been done and I couldn’t be any more pleased.

I never noticed that I am constantly looking at other cars’ “eyes” to gauge how old they are.  After I changed out my headlight lenses, it was like the car was brand new again.  And I say that with a lot of sincerity – it is really that big of a difference.

Back in October, this is what the car looked like (photo courtesy of AK):


She was dressed up for Halloween as a vampire.  See how the lights are a dull, matte finish?  It gives the car a lifeless look, which may be fine for a vampire, but when someone is checking out your car and they see those dull headlights, it really shows the age.

Over the weekend I got to work., this is what my car looked like, mid-procedure. 


A couple of close-ups of the lenses before they came out.

 wp_20180303_09_48_13_pro wp_20180303_09_48_22_pro

And even more surgery,

 wp_20180303_10_10_36_pro wp_20180303_10_10_45_pro

Now, after the change, the difference is amazing.


And just look how happy she is!  Young and pretty again.  Sometime in the future, she deserves a fresh coat of paint, since the fiberglass surfaces of the roof and retractable hardtop deck have faded and lost all their shine.  But for now, the light is bright and clear, and the eyes reveal a well-travelled soul.