Temperamental Pikachu

A visual representation of my car giving me problems.

A lot of my posts involve my narcissist mother as I’m working through unresolved trauma and PSTD symptoms, but currently she is nothing compared to the bane of my existence that is my yellow PT Cruiser (aka. “The Pikachu”).

The day after I decided to put the Aloy cosplay on hold for the sake of my sanity instead of trying to complete it in a matter of days, my car wouldn’t start after work. Long story short, the starter and thermostat were shot and it had started leaking coolant.

Of course, it had to die during the time the parking lot was being re-done so I couldn’t leave it there. I have AAA and waited six hours after calling them for a tow, but I ended up shelling $90 for a tow truck in town because nobody affiliated with AAA wanted to come to Rural Town, Wisconsin. I’m still waiting for the reimbursement I sent in.  

We had initially had planned on a friend who went to mechanic school fixing the car, but decided to explore other options after three weeks of him flaking out on us. Our regular garage—being the only good garage in town—was booked out for a month and the earliest we could get booked was the third week in September. Another good garage in the next town over was able to pencil us in for the following week, but ended up canceling on us after the mechanic called the next day to inform us that they would be unable to do the job as their secretary did not realize how much time it would take. Finally, someone my husband used to work with contacted us offering to fix the car if we still needed it.

Some of the initial issues we pinpointed and got parts for were worse than we thought. We had a couple mechanic experienced people tell us that typically the water pump is replaced when doing the timing belt since it’s such a pain in the ass, but when we opened the car we found a brand new timing belt in a crap water pump that was fixed McGyver style and there was no gap in the blades. The starter was more rusted than we could see with just the hood popped open. Thank God we planned on replacing the spark plugs anyways because the connectors had rusted off and the metal was completely black.

Things went relatively smoothly at first as most of the initial problems were fixed within an hour of getting the car towed to the guy’s place and it was actually running, but soon turned into a clusterfuck of road blocks. It wasn’t leaking after replacing the thermostat and they had hoped that they wouldn’t have to replace the water pump, but it started leaking somewhere in the 45 minutes they had the car idling. The water pump was a bitch to get out. While getting the water pump replaced, my husband quipped about replacing the alternator only to find that the bearings were stating to go out and we decided to replace it while the car was still open instead of waiting for it to go out later. We also decided to have the shocks on the back hatch replaced after finding it was an easy fix and it was cheaper than having to replace the whole door if the bad shocks resulted in the back window breaking. We found that most of the engine mounts were broken. The hose clamps fell apart upon touching them. While trying to get the timing belt put on, he noticed that one of the gears was cracked and it could rip the belt to shreds. It been almost like getting a laundry list of problems from a shady mechanic except the guy has been showing us pictures and videos of the issues if my husband hasn’t been physically there to be personally shown the problems and hasn’t raised his labor costs beyond what we initially agreed on.

Meanwhile, for the past five weeks, I’ve been getting up earlier so I can get a ride with my husband when he goes to work two hours before my shift starts. I’ve been pretty sleep deprived as a result. On top of all this, work has been more stressful for reasons I will not get into. Between the car, work, my regular stressors, and the general feeling of burn out from stress and a lack of sleep, my anxiety-induced nausea has been much worse than usual to the point that I’ve either been violently vomiting or not eating and have lost a little bit of weight as a result.

I’m fucking miserable and exhausted.

I nearly lost it yesterday morning. The car was supposed to be done last Sunday, but we found one of the gears that holds the timing belt was cracked and it could potentially rip the timing belt to shreds. We were in Chicago at the time so we checked a couple places, but ended up having to order them online since PT Cruiser parts are apparently difficult to get through a retailer. We got the new gears the other day along with the shocks that UPS didn’t deliver to us a few days ago because, of course, they suddenly couldn’t find out apartment even though they’ve delivered dozens of times since we moved there. The parts get put in and all that is needed is some new hose clamps because, as mentioned earlier, mine apparently disintegrated. The three of us hit various stores in town to find the hose clamps. We had ordered some in the event none of the stores had them, which is precisely what happened despite Advanced Auto Parts’ website saying that they had the clamps. (We did later find out Advanced Auto Parts actually did have the clamps and the employee that was asked about clamps was dumb.) Just shy of half an hour into my shift I get a text and a picture that informs me that he popped the hood to find that the timing belt was snapped like we theorized it would if we left it running on a cracked gear. So that’s another fifty bucks to the $500ish worth of parts we bought that initially was $140 before we kept running into issues that were a problem now or would eventually become a problem soon. I suppose I’d rather have it snap now rather than while I’m on the road, but this is just getting ridiculous at this point.

…and it starts raining and the car is outside so they aren’t able to install the new belt.

This has basically become the Cars version of what Job went through in the Bible. I’d say this is like a real life version of Miss Trunchbull buying a lemon off of Harry Wormwood in Matilda, but she kind of deserved it and her car still kind of ran. How appropriate that I affectionately call my car “Pikachu” because it’s about as fucking temperamental as Pikachu was at the beginning of the Pokemon anime.

When will my car be fixed? My husband and our mechanic say Friday assuming the breaks and rotor don’t need to be replaced, but who the fuck knows at this point. For the past two weeks we’ve been seeing the light at the end of the tunnel only to have yet another setback. The only silver lining in all of this is fixing it is much cheaper than buying a new car and should run beautifully for a good long time whenever the Hell it gets done.

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