My Corsica has been through a lot in the past year. Almost too much for one car to handle. Almost.
Sorry this is so long - it really is a saga...
The engine had been running a little hot for a few days and the problem started to get worse on my way home from work. I was just trying to make it to my driveway before the car overheated and so far I had been pretty lucky with traffic and stop lights. Then I made the right turn into my neighborhood. That's when the cop who was following me turned on his lights (the red and blue ones) and pulled me over.
He said my license plate was coming up "dead" - which usually means that it was surrendered back to the state because it's no longer needed. It was, however, still hanging on the back of my car. This is not the first time I've had trouble with my custom plate. I assumed it was another mix up and went on my way with a warning (or whatever) and documentation of the incident (since I had all of the correct paperwork).
The officer never said why he ran my plate in the first place. I think he was just intrigued with the awesomeness of it. But my engine reached about 1,000 degrees while sitting and waiting for the process to work itself out. When I finally got home I let the car cool down and checked the oil.
It looked like a mint chocolate milkshake. Antifreeze had seeped through the gaskets in the engine and mixed with the oil. That is very bad.
My father and my mechanic both confirmed that it was very bad.
My wife and I decided that the best thing to do was to see if everything could be fixed and if it made sense to do the repairs and keep the Corsica on the road. It's a great car for driving in the city, it still gets good gas mileage and we own it.
We were just under the break even point.
4.18.08 - 4.25.08
The Corsica ended up being in the shop for an entire week. Luckily, I was out of town on a business trip so it wasn't too much of an inconvenience. It needed an engine rebuild, new gaskets, a new thermostat, a radiator flush, an oil change/refill, a state inspection and an emissions test. The new wiper blades were free. Bonus.
I had waited to renew the Corsica's registration until we made sure we were keeping it. I went to the PA DMV website to fill out the forms and pay for the next year. I got all the way to the last screen, but when I clicked to confirm I was given an error code and a phone number to call.
Apparently the police officer was right. My plate was not coming up at all in the DMV database. I explained the situation (which was that there was no situation and I hadn't done anything). They said an investigation team would be put on the case (I'm serious) and that I would get a call in three business days.
Then two amazing things happened. I did get a call on the third business day, and the person on the other end of the line was helpful. Remember, this is the DMV we're talking about. Amazing.
She said that it was a clerical error and everything would be corrected - all I needed to do was make an etching of my plate and fax it to them. Yes, an etching.
So at 10:30 in the morning I'm kneeling down on Penn Avenue in the city behind the parallel parked Corsica making a rubbing of my license plate with a piece of copy paper and a pencil. If you think I raised the eyebrows of some people walking by (and a policeman in a patrol car), you are correct.
I faxed it and they fixed it. I was able to renew the registration online by noon.
I really need to get a new license plate.
When I pulled out of work onto the main road, it sounded like something was stuck between my left front tire and the wheel well. There was a thumping noise every time I straightened out the car after turning left. I got home using only right turns and took the tire off of the car. The torsion bar had broken through the rusty lower control arm and shattered all of the bushings in the area (read: this is bad).
It was fixed in less than a day (not by me).
I came out of work to a flat tire. I changed it to the donut spare using the quality tools included underneath my trunk carpeting, washed myself off, and drove home.
Steph took the tire (from yesterday) to get patched. Meanwhile, I got into the Corsica to come home from work and pressed the brake pedal to shift out of PARK. It went all the way to the floor. Brake fluid was spraying all over my left rear tire and the road. I called AAA and both the Corsica and I got a ride home via tow truck. The driver and I got to talking about all of the stories above this one and he charged me half price because he felt bad for us.
It was fixed in less than a day (not by me).
The patched tire was reattached for free. Bonus.
I was at the mall trying to buy a new digital camera. When I called, the store said that they had one in stock, but they did not actually have one. I was only there for ten minutes, but during that time it started to snow outside and there was already a coating on the parking lot. And there was traffic everywhere.
It took 45 minutes to get to the intersection at the top of the mall's main entrance road. As I was waiting at the stop sign, the traffic light at the bottom of the entrance turned green and (what I would find out later to be) a guy in a black 2007 Subaru Impreza came toward me up the hill. His car started to turn but then slid on the fresh snow and slammed right into my driver's door. No one was hurt, and after 20 minutes of information exchange I was again sitting in traffic on my way home. The door still worked but was buckled in the middle and didn't seal correctly. Even when it was closed I could hear the outside from the inside.
The Subaru's insurance rep called a few days later and said they would pay for all of the Corsica's repairs. I even got a PT Cruiser to drive for the three days it took to replace, prep, paint and buff the new door on my old car.
All in all, fixing the Corsica cost his insurance company twice what it is worth. Plus the rental. I have no idea why they didn't total my car, but I'm OK with their decision.
I can, however, still hear the outside when I'm inside. But I did get a little bottle of custom mixed touch-up paint. Bonus.
The Corsica has over 99,750 miles on it and is still rolling. I'm hoping for 100,000 soon and fewer stories to tell...