now that it’s over, I can tell you everything (3)

The Date: January 22, 2004

I started my own car for the first time in nearly three weeks. Bidding a fond adieu to the sea-foam green rental sedan, I took off like a shot into the sunset. I was so happy to have my car back – MY car, my OWN car – that I cruised around for at least half an hour before finally pulling into the patch of grass in front of my apartment. Then I probably did some celebratory drinking.

After the drama of the transmission I had a ton of catch-up to do, as all my energy for the past few weeks had been spent in heated conversations with my dealership. As I eased back into the rhythyms of my normal life, it was easy to overlook a few things. Like, for example, how my car would pop out of second gear on cold mornings. Or how, sometimes, it would simply refuse to engage in first. I thought maybe it was just adjusting to the new transmission or something.

On February 3, I took the car in for testing. An overnight stay at the mechanics yeilded no results, and I was sent away with a pat on the head (silly girl, it’s TOTALLY NORMAL for a car to intermittently pop out of gear!) and the friendly advice that if I couldn’t DUPLICATE the problem for their techs I might as well not even bother bringing it in.

My check engine light came on on March 4, 2004. As this was a verifiable problem, I drove to the dealership, got a free rental, and was told after a day or two that the problem stemmed from a faulty vacuum seal. And oh by the way that I needed new tires. I wasn’t about to give Muzi any more of my money, so I went to a local gas station to buy my new rubber. That ordeal was a story in and of itself, but on March 10, finally outfitted with four matching Goodyear tires, I was headed westbound out of the city on the Mass Pike. It was a beautiful sunny day, and as I drove I let my mind gloss over all the car trouble and turned instead to thoughts of happier things. Then I felt something metal chip up against my undercarriage.

“hm” said my brain “that sounded like something fell off my car”

The next morning, 7AM, I was back at the dealership “duplicating the problem” for a Muzi tech. He agreed that the wild lurching and gasping of the vehicle didn’t fall into normal operating standards, and once again I was shuffled off to the rental office with a voucher for a free car. Later on that day I got a call from the dealership informing me that a motor mount had come loose and fallen off.

Let’s go back for a second.


While I was driving at 70 mph on the Pike.

You can imagine my reaction.

At this point I revisited the idea of a lawsuit, but after careful examination of the Massachusetts Lemon Laws, it seemed to me that my car, though demonstrably problematic, did not strictly fit the definition of a “lemon”.

6/15/04 – 23,931 miles. intermittent wipers inoperable. Replace defective wiper relay.

11/12/04 – 31,117 miles. routine maintenance. customer advised of needing front brakes and rotors

3/15/05 – 34,981 miles. car in for check entine light. running sluggish. Replace faulty IAC.

4/12/05 – 35,536 miles. car in for check engine light. sluggish idle, erratic idle. Replace 02 sensor.

4/26/05 – 35,998 miles. sluggish idle, erratic idle. Replace EVR valve

4/27/05 – sluggish idle, erratic idle. customer advised over phone that, although the vehicle has assorted malfunctions causing the check engine light to illuminate, further check engine light problems will not be covered under any implied warrantee for past repairs, as the causes of said light have all been different. Customer hits the roof, tells service rep that she is sick to death of dealing with their asinine runaround bullshit, has a strong drink, and calls a lawyer.

I was then advised by the law firm that it would be a quick turnaround of a case, no more than three months, and that I should avoid driving my car while litigation was pending.

For three months, I avoided use of my car. I rode my bike to work, I carpooled with Katsumi. One day, delirious with fever, I even walked the two miles home. In 90 degree weather. Uphill. And still the lawsuit continued. At some point near September, I’d had enough and just started driving again. And the lawsuit continued. I received a summons for someitme in November and was told to ignore it. I told the lawyer that I didn’t even care if I got any money – that an extended warrantee would be fine – I just wanted insurance that if something went wrong again I’d be covered. I received a summons for Valentine’s day and told my lawyer I’d be out of town. And the lawsuit continued. I despaired of ever being rid of the curse.

The Date: April 25, 2006
I finally got my settlement check. And there was much rejoicing.

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