Starting Out Rough

We’re getting ready to start our families summer vacation and so far it’s been off to a rough start. 

We took our car in to get it looked over before the road trip. We knew it needed some work. We didn’t know how much. As the work was being done more and more work needed was found. Not all of it was done due to money and time constraints. We got the most the most pressing things done and the mechanic feels it’s completely fine to take on the trip. 

After I had ran over and paid the bill for that today we received a call from the camp Alexandria has been working at. Yesterday she hurt her ankle pretty bad and it only got worse today. Things were swelling and sore and they were icing it often. So we went to pick her up early and off to the hospital to get things checked out. 

After about four hours of hanging out in the emergency room she had X-rays and we found out the results. Luckily nothing is broke as I initially feared, but she has soft tissue damage and will have to rest it and keep weight off it for a while. 

Even after four hours she was still in great spirits. 

Car == Fixed

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how my car wouldn’t start, and since then it has been sitting in the drive way not going anywhere. We made out fairly well on one car, although it was challenging at times and we burned a lot more gas driving just the big SUV. Today that came to a change though. It is once again alive!

It took a couple weeks due to time, weather, and lack of tools. Weather has been cold and wet and I don’t have anywhere to do any work to the car except in the drive way. About a week ago after I had tried checking all the things I could with the tools I had I was pretty sure it was the starter itself on the car that as gone. Luckily all I needed was a new socket set and found one on sale for only $20. It’s a good set and I really should have had one ages ago.

After many YouTube videos for research and a pretty big scare one night I was ready to get to work. After the car had sat about a week I though it would be wise to take it for a drive so it wasn’t just sitting and things getting ceased up. So I went out and tried to push it and get it going by myself with a bump start. The only problem is our driveway is on a hill and I had to push up the hill. Didn’t quite have it in me by myself and so I ended up calling from my cell phone in a panic for Jen to come out and put the break on because I was just barely able to hold the car from rolling down the hill, across the yard, and into our shed.

Yesterday came and the weather was beautiful, so when everyone else was out in the morning I went out and took apart the car a bit so I could get to the starter. Pulled it out and right away saw what the problem was. There was a braided wire from one part of the starter to the other that had broken. Jen was thrilled with the picture I sent her with the starter on the kitchen counter.

2002 Honda Civic Starter
2002 Honda Civic Starter

After considering just trying to repair the connection a friend reminded me that there is lots of current that flows there and if it broke it could be because something else in the starter is not working right. Found a used one at a local salvage yard but they weren’t open until today. They have all their parts catalogued and organized so when I stopped by they went right to it and brought it to me, all tested and ready to go.

Today on a lunch break I went out and put the new starter on and everything else back together and it started the first turn of the key. This makes me a mechanic now right? I’m very excited that I was able to get this fixed for about $100 when the part itself was quoted at almost $300 not including labour.

Old Car Problems

For a couple minutes today I thought I might be running home unexpectedly. Luckily after calming down a bit and thinking things through I figured out how to avoid that.

Previously I wrote about how I love my old car, and really I still do. However not sure I would trust it as our only vehicle anymore. It has some electrical issues and isn’t always reliable. When Caile and I came out to and hop in the car to go home it just wouldn’t start. Before I started thinking I immediately thought I had left the lights on again and killed the battery. This has happened a number of times since the buzzer stopped working to warn me when I leave them on. That didn’t end up being the case and we started noticing a slight electrical burning smell. That can’t be good.

At this point I figured it was something serious so I called Jen and asked her to turn around and come back for Caile and I would try to figure out what was going on and if I couldn’t I’d run home. After processing things for a bit I realized I was getting power no problem so I didn’t need a boost. The only thing was is the car wouldn’t turn over. I wasn’t even getting a click of the ignition when I turned the key. In my head I have it narrowed down to the starter or ignition switch neither of which I’m going to do anything about here in the parking lot.

When Jen got back she jumped behind the wheel, put it in gear with they key on and the clutch in. The kids got a big kick out of watching me push the car to get it moving. Jen let go of the clutch and it started right up. She followed me home just in case but it drove no problem. Now it’s home where I can figure exactly where the problem is and hopefully fix it up myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve bump started a car like that.

Since I last wrote about my car I’ve probably put around $1000 into repairs into it which is cheaper than a car payment, but I’ve also spent time without having the car which can be very inconvenient. If I could afford a new one right now I’d probably do it just for the reliability aspect. It would also make it easier to plan financially without havin unexpected repair cost pop up. But for now I’ll keep fixing it up until it gets to a point where the cost to repair is just to high to make sense.

Where Has The Time Gone?

For those of you not in Nova Scotia we have both a vehicle registration that has to be renewed every two years as well as a safety inspection by a mechanic every two years.

The end of November is when our registration was due to one of our vehicles. Today my wife went online and paid that fee shortly before she left to pick up the kids from school. On her way she called me, guess what I looked at our inspection sticker and it ran out in August. I questioned her about it and she responded, yeah it’s marked off as expiring in August 2016. I can’t believe we let it go this long.

My reply was well if that one is expired than so is my car. I knew the registrations were opposite years for the two, but the inspections were the same year. She called and booked an appointment to get it inspected for tomorrow.

Shortly after Jen arrived home I had to leave to pick up our oldest at school so I hopped in my car. Before I left I looked at the sticker and said to myself, wow she was right it does expire in 2016. Wait a second. Back into the house I went. Jen a couple of things, are you able to pass me my phone I forgot it on the counter? Thanks, next what year is it? She replied, 2015. Right. Slight pause.

Somehow we both managed to skip ahead a year. So instead of being really late for our inspections we would have been quite early instead. Luckily we had to get something done to the vehicle anyway so we just changed the appointment with the mechanic to cancel the inspection part.

Love my car

To me cars are a necessity. If I lived in a big city with great public transportation I would gladly give up my vehicles, buy a good bike and make my way around that way. However living in rural Nova Scotia with four kids having a car, and in our case two, is pretty much needed.

Although we have gotten by for months now on one vehicle as my poor 2002 Honda Civic was first laid up in the driveway and then at a mechanic friends for a while. On Sunday though I was able to go pick it back up.

Something has been draining the battery so especially in the winter if it sat for anytime at all the battery died and wouldn’t start without a long charge and boost. Instead I going through that hassle we let it sit.

It’s only been three years I’ve owned this car but it is by far my favourite I’ve owned. It’s funny because it was already ten years old when I bought it and I’ve owned a couple brand new cars before it.

It’s not the prettiest car and there is plenty wrong with it, but I still enjoy driving it. It runs well, and I get great gas mileage especially compared to the big SUV that is our other vehicle.

There should be things wrong with it, it’s thirteen years old now and has over 200,000 kilometres on it. There are some things that would make people crazy I’m sure, but it’s part of what I like about it.

The fact that one of the back windows won’t go down is no big deal. I don’t sit back there, my window still goes down. The air conditioning is no longer cold, but again my window goes down. Besides that I live in Nova Scotia Canada, there isn’t much of the year we really need air conditioning. The heat still works, that’s the important part around here.

Having to go in through the trunk to open the fuel door every time you put gas in it drives my wife crazy. That’s ok in my books, I don’t have to fill it up often anyway. I could just leave the door open all the time, but it looks a bit better closed.

The trunk release no longer works either but it was causing the latch to get stuck closed so that once the trunk was open you couldn’t get it to close again. A cold winter morning dropping the kids off at school and I took the cable off so I could get it closed. Now I just need to use the key to open the trunk, that’s not a big deal.

There are scratches and minor dents, there are hub caps missing, there are warning lights on the dash that don’t go away, there are some rubber seals and trim coming off, but who cares. It’s thirteen years old! It’s not a beauty contest and it still drives pretty darn nice.

Having it gone for so long really made me realize how much I like it. Not just because of all the extra gas we were burning because we had to take the big SUV everywhere even if there was only one of us going. Jumping in, rolling my window down and taking off in my little standard five speed is fun. Just a different feeling than the big SUV that’s an automatic.

This last thing is causing me a little bit of despair though, but I’m still working on fixing it. To stop the battery from draining it was narrowed down to a fuse. Unfortunately it controls things like my remote door locks, power outlet, some other things, but most importantly the radio. So now I can’t listen to music or the CBC when cruising around. I’m still working to see if I can narrow down exactly what is causing the drain so I can at least get some of these things back.

It’s been so good to me though that I can live with all that’s wrong with it. If it died tomorrow and just refused to go on I’d be sad. But in all reality I’ve gotten more than my money worth out of this car and I really see me driving it for a few years yet.