The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Monday, September 20, 2004

Old Car Adventures

As you might remember, my old car died on my last Sunday, 9/12. It had been hanging out at a motel near the Philadelphia airport. I decided that the Bread Winner and I should try to get it home, find out what was wrong with it, and if it was something minor, fix it and sell it. The other alternative was to donate it to charity. Since we'd just spent so much money on it, recouping some of our losses was understandably an attractive idea. We decided to try to nurse the car back home on Sunday.

The problem (as it's always been) was over heating. The car was over heating really quickly, like in five minutes or less. You can't get far in five minutes. And since it over heated in five minutes, that meant we had to stop on the shoulder of the highway and wait 10-15 minutes for it to cool down before starting it and driving another five minutes. I drove the car in this leap frog manner with the Bread Winner following behind in our fabulous, new, problem-free car.

During one of our lay overs, I decided to look at the engine and see if I noticed anything obviously wrong with the car. Although I am interested in auto mechanics and have a dream where someday I learn how to fix cars, I really don't know much about them. But it couldn't hurt to look, so I did. And I noticed that a belt was just hanging loosely near the engine. Even I know that is not good. I looked around some more to try to figure out where it should have been and noticed some pulleys that were, in fact, naked. One of the pulleys appeared to be attached to the alternator.

Of course we tried to muscle the belt back onto the alternator and other pulleys (I've later discovered that this belt goes from the alternator to the water pump and the harmonic balancer), but we couldn't.

Like I said, I don't know much about cars, but I do know that the alternator has something to do with the electrical system, and one of the things that it has to do with it is that it re-charges the battery. Your car uses the battery to start (you knew that) and then as the car is running, the alternator re-charges it so that it can start your car next time. It occured to me that if the belt was no longer attached to the alternator, it probably was not recharging the battery, which meant that eventually, the battery would run out of juice and no longer start the car.

Lo and behold, that's exactly what happened. So now the car is stuck under an overpass in Villanova. I thought that maybe I could replace the belt, as that's not supposed to be too hard in general principal. However, because of where the belt is, I'd have to remove two other belts to replace this one. Anyway, I had given up again, but now I'm thinking that there still might be a way to get it home. I'll keep you posted.

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