Yesterday I was cruising around in ATX heaven – from a girlfriend’s house to the springs, then soccer at Justine’s! It was a haiku of awesome, but then my car started to smell like chemical fire. I rationalized that the smell was coming from construction that I was driving by.
Ok here’s how it goes with me: I had a low mileage (75k) 2000 Toyota Camry that my mom gave me, and a 1991 Isuzu Trooper with 185k on it from my father-in-law.
What Would Ann Raber Do? Obviously she’d sell the Camry, stash the cash, and live out of the Trooper. Is this taking the vintage aesthetic too far? Perhaps.
But it’s been a great car so far, as rolling greenhouse death traps go. I have this fantasy of trying to do mechanical work on it myself some day. So far I have replaced the radiator cap, and the headlight (bulb). Both times I had to have AO coach me through it on gchat. From “where do I get a radiator cap” to “what do you mean ‘go in through the hood?!?'” It’s been educational.
Here’s the Trooper with Rick Rivera’s boat hitched to it. Living up to its name in a big way.
This is the Trooper in Hueco when Vinny and I broke the door, and the Hueco Rock Ranch dudes helped fix it.
And here it is on the way to Hueco last year.
A couple weeks ago it started doing this thing where it took a few seconds to change gears. Like from reverese to drive and back it struggled to get going. It was Saturday, so I had to take it to a non-favorite mechanic. They said the transmission has a leak in the gasket or pan, and to give them 600 dollars. I said fuggedaboutit, and had them top off the fluid. I’d lost 3 quarts of tranny fluid in 6 months! Ugggghhhhh!
Then I had the best mechanic and one of the best people in Austin, and also probably one of the best men on the earth, Mike Yost, check it out. I was gonna ask him what he thought of the idea of me doing it myself was. But then, as he was laying underneath it in the parking lot he goes “It’s gonna be a huge job to get in there.” I got down there too and he showed me how the transmission is up above the exhaust system, and that it will involve taking tons of other parts off to get to and change. So I didn’t even ask about my DIY idea.
We agreed that for now I need to just check the level regularly and be sure to top it off. I said, “I read online that if you overfill the transmission fluid in this car even a little, it catches fire. There was even a recall about it in the 90s. So I’m scared.” To which Mike Yost responded: “Get full coverage.”
Oh, and so after the soccer game (I don’t know if I’m more excited to see the German’s lose, Spain win, or Paul the psychic octopus be proved right YET AGAIN) I drove to work, and the fire smell started again, then a big noise, then the battery light went on and I couldn’t steer, and when I finally got off 183 safely, I saw a broken belt dangling out of the bottom of the car, and the whole inside of the hood was covered in this gross black mank.
Alternator belt. Replaced within an hour by the other Mike at Yost Automotive.
Parts and Labor, $82.