Friday, December 27, 2013

Glitch: Yet Another New-To-Me Car

The real fun began just after I got up for my first day back at work. The car wouldn't start. Mind you, it was -12 out there. So what? I had yet to have a Hyundai that refused to start even as cold as -25, about all the colder it ever gets here these days, one teeny benefit of global warming. I turned the key, and ... nothing. No cranking sounds winding down in pitch from a dying battery, no click click click click from a dead one. Just, nothing. I tried again. Nothing. After two tries, I double checked to be sure I hadn't done anything as stupid as forget to put it in park. I figured it must be the battery. Maybe.

Lucky for me, Paul was home since it was X-mas Eve. Even better, he has long jumper cables, reaching my battery from his even though he was in front of me and both cars were pointing the same way. After an endless minute of connected cables and Paul's foot on the gas, there was nothing resembling a crank. After a full two, it started. Yay!

The 24th of December is always slow, so I first drove down to Vadnais Heights, a full 35 miles, to the Panera  to pick up a loaf of bread for Paul's contribution to X-mas dinner at Steph & Ben's the next day, to go with a jar of his homemade jelly. I was out of the car maybe 5 minutes. The guages said it was warm, and since the sun was up due to my late start, I had driven 30 of those miles with the headlights off. I turned the key and ... nothing. Again ... nothing. I had no cables with me, and even if I had, I was not parked anywhere another car could jump mine. I wasn't sure why on earth I should need them, but it seemed to work last time. Or perhaps it was just coincidence. It didn't really act like a battery issue. At any rate, I called in to dispatch, putting myself out of commission and asking them to try to dig up somebody with cables.

Then, just because, I tried starting it again, and... purrrrrrrrrrrrr. I let dispatch know I wasn't going to shut it off for the rest of my work day. I drive with both keys anyway, one set in each pocket, so I'm never locked out. Now I could lock it with the spare key while it was running. I think it's quasi-legal.

With the holidays, my first chance to contact a dealership  to get it in to be fixed was the 26th. I called before leaving home, but found out that the 27th was their first available appointment, especially since I needed a loaner car. I made it clear on the phone that the car was the job, and I'd need one to use for work, not just to get to work. I was told that was OK. And yes, you better believe I made note of the name of the guy who told me that!

The 25th, I had to start it after we got home from X-mas dinner, swapping cars in the driveway so mine was 1st out the next morning. While Paul was sweeping off snow, I tried to start it. It took two tries. So all the 26th, I left it running. Same the 27th until I reached the dealership. There I shut it off. If it wouldn't start again, it was their problem.

We were going through the usual routines of paperwork and getting the loaner, when it occurred to the guy to ask me if I was going to use the loaner to make deliveries with. Yes.

So what kinds of stuff would I be putting in the car?  These days, mostly medical stuff, some envelopes and car parts.

Hmmm, he needed to check with the head of the loaner car division. (They have enough of them to justify a division?) I figured there might be some problem along those lines, and pulled out the guy's name who'd told me I could have the car for that purpose.  Eventually he came back to me, letting me know they'd let me have the loaner this time, justifying it with the fact that my car hadn't been stickered with the company name yet. It smelled like a case of plausible deniability to me, but I wasn't going to say anything that might give them an excuse to change their mind.

I finally met the head of the loaner car division, and while going over the paperwork with me and showing me that this car was a "brand new" -meaning 2333 miles - Elantra, he wanted to impress on me my need to take vary good care of this car. I heard several horror stories of how others had mistreated their loaners, including one woman who used her car to move all her possessions to a different apartment, returning that car in very rough shape.

Fine, so I was suitable impressed. I assured him I was a very careful driver, and a very careful parker as well. There is, after all, lots of space around a handicap spot. I also spread the throw blanket I had for emergencies across the back seat to keep any possible dirt, snow/salt, or whatever off the pretty tan upholstery. He kept emphasizing it, however. I thought maybe it was just the way he dealt with everybody.

It dawned on me as I drove off that I had early in our conversation mentioned that I bought the new car they were working on after having totaled my last one. No wonder he might not have fully trusted me, as I hadn't bothered to add the gettin-old-now-story about my sitting stopped at a light and getting rear-ended by a school bus.

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