SO blessed...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The last five days or so have been very car-stress heavy.

We're old car owners. I would say Dave Ramsey car owners, but I've heard him say that he doesn't like people calling their clunkers DR cars because of course, he's advocating that if you do things right, in due time you will be driving a very nice car. Like he does. But I digress.
We buy 8-10 year old Hondas (only one exception and it taught us a good lesson) outright with cash and have been rather proud that we don't have car payments. The Hondas usually do us well and I still extol the virtues of our first Accord Wagon which was about 16 years old when we had it towed to the great junkyard in the sky, with nearly 700 000 KMs on it. I'd been hoping to get to 726K kms which was the dealership record where we took it for service.
We bought our first Odyssey in 2005 when we finally couldn't fit all our kids into the Wagon. We upgraded to a 2000 Oddy in 2008 and then just two months ago traded in the 2000 for a 2003 with about 216K kms on it from a little shop in Stoney Creek called Motormax. (Yes, I mention the name on purpose).
We were pretty gleeful for a few weeks....and then I went to turn the van on and noticed it had gone through a voice change. It was now revving a little lower than before and I was pretty sure I detected the sound of an exhaust system problem. We took a look at our warranty but after a good mechanic friend listened and told us what he thought was wrong, we were chagrined to find it was a part not covered by the warranty. Of course.
Then about a week later I went to put my key in the ignition and it wouldn't go in. Numerous tries finally got it in, but it would not turn. This began a pattern that would continue up until now, that each time I tried to start the van I'd have to give it about 10 running starts to get the key in to the 'sweet spot' that would let it turn. My brother who owns a CRV said that a similar problem he experienced a while ago proved to be some loose doohickeys inside that get jammed up.
We had the repair of these items on our budget todo list when last week I started to notice a few odd things when I shifted from park to drive. It would hesitate a bit and then give a jolt before driving off normally. Then after running some errands on Friday afternoon, I was coming back into our neighbourhood (driving around 40km/hr) when for a brief moment the engine revved quite high--without my pushing on the gas any farther, and then returned to normal. I was concerned, but also had stuff to get done and put it out of my mind.
Going back out again a couple hours later, I was just about to get on the parkway near my house when the high revving happened again, but for longer, and this time was accompanied by a loss of power to the wheels. Every time I pushed the gas, it would rev far higher than I was pushing, and sometimes gave me spurts of power, but mostly not. I got off an exit before I needed and hoped I could coax it along a side road to my destination. No such luck. And having forgotten my cell phone at home, there I was knocking on some strangers front door.
After calling hubby, I went back out and restarted the van. I managed to get it the few blocks to my church parking lot, with two or three stops to restart it along the way.
James came and got me (I won't go into how this forced an immediate overhaul of all our plans for that evening) and tested it out around the lot. (What is it with guys never trusting their wives description of car problems?) only to have it completely lose power whilst not in a parking space. Mrs. Muscles here had to help push it into place.
We went home and pulled out the warranty. Though we've never had a transmission problem, it sounded like what I've heard one is like. We breathed a sigh of relief that the warranty, still one full month from it's time limit would cover a transmission.
That sigh caught in my throat however when James drew his brows together and asked me how many kms we had put on the van since we bought it. I wasn't sure...but 45 minutes sitting staring at my dash while waiting for James was giving me a sickly feeling that it was more than the 3000km limit on the warranty. James went back over in his civic to wait for the tow truck...and confirmed that we were 278 kms over the warranty.

The garage we took it to didn't have a diagnosis until Monday. He apparently called the warranty company and gave it his best shot, but nope, they weren't covering any of it. It was going to cost $2900. I could have cried right there in my kitchen. And that wouldn't even fix the exhaust system or the ignition. I would still be driving a van that sounded like David Meece's mother. (Her car that have to have heard him tell the story in concert...hilarious).

As all this was going on, we were getting into the nitty gritty of buying the property. (Have I mentioned how the girls bring us their quarters and nickels and want to put it towards 'the poperty'? Melt ma heart...) One thing we were scheduled to do on Friday night was meet with our realtor and sign our first offer. We still did this, and by mid Saturday we heard back of a counter of about 5K higher than our offer. We were pretty thrilled, but then the issue of whether or not HST would apply came up. Ugh. After checking around various sources and talking to the lawyer who did our wills, we discovered that it would be applied. So last night we sent back a new offer that would include the HST.
Our savings, which had looked quite adequate to cover a thousand dollar down payment (due upon acceptance of the offer) was now looking a little scary in light of a $3000 car repair. Again I had thoughts of 'are we nuts' to be considering buying a lot and building.

This morning brought some good news though. James called the warranty company and pled our case personally. It was an interesting turn of events that led to them agreeing to pay about 40% of the repair.
When we had first found the exhaust problem, James called and asked about the repair being covered. He was told to take it into the garage that they dealt with and get an estimate and they would go from there. Well, after our mechanic friend told us what the part was, we knew it wasn't covered and so didn't bother taking it in. This was noted on our file at the warranty company though.
The guy James was talking to looked back and saw this note. He asked James what had happened with that and why it wasn't followed up on. James told him the plain truth about finding out it was a part not covered. This guy was so impressed that we had not tried to lie and push the repair through as one that is covered, that he offered on the spot to cover nearly half of the repair of our transmission. I was pretty blown away. And thrilled. :-)

So, at the end of this long story, what I really wanted to say was that after reading a blog post by Simple Mom yesterday, I decided to read it to my girls this morning for their geography lesson. I followed a link from that post to an amazing story about Compassion, whom we sponsor a little girl through. As I read the Simple Mom post to my girls and watched their little jaws drop at the sight of the room this Philipino family of 5 had to live in, I was convicted anew about taking for granted the blessings I enjoy in this country. As we traced the route it would take to fly from our country to theirs on our atlas, I thought about how my ancestors might not have come to Canada from the various countries that represent my heritage. Today, I could very well be sheltering my four children in one room the size of a walk-in closet. I know we read that kind of rhetoric all the time, and click away from it often when we see it on TV, but every once in a while it seems to really hit home. You know what I mean?


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