Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Relationship Troubles

I know an automotive blog isn't really the place to vent, but recently, me and missus haven’t been getting along. I understand it was a long, cold and hard winter, and she tried her best to tough it out with a smile. Alas, all of the potholes, salt and bitter cold really took a toll on her this year. Admittedly, I have been a bit rough on her, but the mood swings are incredible; some days she is happy to be given a vigorous workout, and some days she groans, bitches at me, and phones it in for the day. A few times I even considered leaving her for a younger, newer model, but I have way too much invested with her to simply cut out. After all, we have been together for more than 100,00 miles.

It started in December, right before the holidays, which is typically a stressful time for couples. She wouldn't go more than 30 miles per hour without hiccupping, and sputtering as her ignition cut out and the revs dropped. In an effort to diagnose, I ripped out the ABS controller, and it brought back the acceleration, but at a cost; she took away all of my gauges, safety and slip systems. My dash lit up light a Christmas tree with every idiot light imaginable. This was mildly distracting while driving, but my attention daily was more focused on slipping and sliding my way through the worst Long Island Winter in memory. Seriously, you have no idea how hard it is to navigate a 300 BHP car with no limited slip differential, ABS, traction control or other systems through multiple icy blizzards. Because of this, I wound up intentionally avoiding her and taking the train to work in the city for much of January.
That's a lot of warning lights....

I think she started to get suspicious when I was up all night surfing the web. I’m not gonna lie, I was in some pretty deep stuff, late at night in the deepest bowel of the interwebs. I found myself viewing hardcore DIY YouTube videos on hydraulic braking systems and Nissan electrical components, I scanned some dealer technical bulletin and service guides that had been obtained by illicit means, and finally, under an anonymous name I plotted ways to manipulate her with other forum members in chatrooms. All this research led me to believe I had a faulty ABS wheel speed sensor, and all I had to do was go to the dealership to get it checked out on their diagnostic machine to figure out which one was bad.  

So I bought her to the dealership in Massapequa, which basically looks like a day spa for cars. Its white walls, glassed off, and way to clean. They made us part ways at the front to prepare her for a day of pampering, while I went in to go talk to a service adviser. I explained what was wrong, what diagnostic scan she needed. They didn't understand a word of it, and insisted she was more high maintenance than I thought. 400 dollars worth of testing later, they came back to me and told me they had found the problem. The entire rear end needed replacing, including all wheel hubs and sensors, to the tune of $3000. I said no, and left, and then found out they never reconnected my e-brake. So I went home, ripped the wheel off, put in a new ABS sensor for 20 bucks, and she worked fine. Except the disconnected e-brake is a constant reminder of the infidelity suffered at the hands of the stealership.

Then came the bitter January cold, which made her plastic bits brittle, and she was feeling kind of fragile. We lost the lower engine cover to  a pothole,  and her entire inner fender well was literally shattered by a chunk of ice. 16 bucks on rockauto.com and a few zip ties later, she was good as new. The cold did although kill the battery in one of my TPMS sensors, and now it just blinks at me. Blink. Blink. Blink. A constant nagging reminder that I need to buy new shoes soon, or I’ll continue to hear about it.

For a little while there, we were doing good. She was looking good and feeling good, and she knew it. A renewed spring was in her step, and I was once again feeling good about our relationship. Then she started nagging me again. At this point, my dad, my brother and my friends all told me I should leave her, but I didn't want to listen to them, I was committed to making it work. 

The shrill crying rattle came from the rear, and I didn't know why - did I forget her oil change? Not give her premium fuel? I deduced it was the anti-rattle pin, which was actually, ironically, rattling. The only way to stop it was to quickly pull the parking brake while driving. Fast. My first attempt to fix this was not successful, as I lacked the tools to take off the rotors. Then my son and I went to Autozone to purchase a breaker bar, which is not as fun as it sounds.

Saturday night, 10 pm, I settled down for a couples therapy session. She bought her bad attitude, and lots of blame. I bought a 4-pack of Guinness and my Dewalt cordless impact driver.

It was a long night, but after a while, I think we finally found the root of our problem. I have the rotor off, and I found this: Suffice to say I now know what was causing the rattle.
Think we found the problem... Hint-  pins are supposed to be straight
 I put her back together, and apologized profusely for hurting her feelings and the ordeal she had to go through. A week has since passed, and I think we are fine. For now, that is, until she finds out about the fling I have been having on the side with a cute little German number.