Cars Suck

I drove to Toyota of Seattle this morning and dropped off our 2003 Prius. The “Check Engine” light came on when Phillip was on his way to the NorWesCon meeting on Saturday. It was on when I drove to the service department this morning.

I was in a good mood this morning, despite the car trouble. I got to experience a different commute. I got to ride the Seattle Streetcar to Westlake. I was a beautiful morning. The folks at Toyota of Seattle were friendly. I can still say that I haven’t driven our own car to work in over 15 years. I can still say that in those 15 years, I’ve been late to work only once – and that one time wasn’t this morning. I didn’t even feel rushed this morning.

The service department called me early this morning. Their initial diagnostic didn’t reveal much. A “Check Engine” light can mean a lot of things, the guy explained. They’d like to take the gas tank apart and check for leaks. (A 2003 Prius has a double gas tank – a bladder inside a metal tank.) If there’s no leak, they’ll check the emissions system. I authorized them to do that. My good mood disappeared, and the reality of the situation hit me. This is going to cost a lot.

They called back later in the day. There was no leak, and the emissions system looks good. They’ve determined that one of the car’s computers is going to have to be replaced. I authorized that. (What else could I do, really?) They’ve ordered the new computer and it should arrive tomorrow morning.

On my bus ride home, I was thinking about how I don’t really love our car as much as I used to. I remembered some of the photographs I took during our 2003 trip to the ocean. There were a few with our nice, new hybrid car in the foreground. I remembered a photograph I took of our shiny new car looking appropriately dirty on top of a mountain in Gifford Pinchot National Forest – Pet and Phillip and I were geocaching.

Phillip and I don’t drive a lot – 58,600 miles in 12 years. We really should ditch the car, but I don’t want to. We use Zipcar and car2go when we need a backup car. I don’t know if we can rely on them as primary vehicles. My gut says no – or maybe it’s fear. (Fear of what, I’m not sure.)

I had been unsure of what I want to spend my income tax refund on. It looks like that decision has been made for me.

I had been thinking, as a possibility, about spending my refund on a computer. It looks like I’m going to be doing that.

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