Friday, July 24, 2009

Memento mori

2000 Mazda Protege SE, in better times
The Ricardipus-mobile, prophetically parked in a cemetary.

Friday morning, an enforced day off to deal with the sadly-stricken vehicle. Having been suffering from a mild case of throttle-lag over the last half-year or so, it decided yesterday that enough was enough.

About ten minutes from home, the CD player decided to cut in and out. At first I wasn't too surprised, since it skips from time to time, but fairly quickly it became obvious that this was an electrical, not mechanical, problem. Next, the car did something really weird - it refused to change gear. I'm pretty sure I was stuck in third, and nothing I did with the shifter (ok, you standard drivers, I know it's not really a shifter per se) would make it change - off with the overdrive button, which should have moved it from fourth to third, or into either second or first with the stick. Neutral, it could do fine, but that's hardly helpful for forward momentum.

Not so useful.

Nursing it around the last set of streets on the way home, all kinds of electrical gremlins started creeping in - the windshield wipers stopped working, the indicators started flashing at double-speed, which is usually indicative of a failed bulb, and the car was distinctly lacking in "get-up-and-go" (or, at this point, "keep-going-please"). Flipping off the headlights helped a little, but by the time I actually wheeled into the driveway, it was done. Just for fun, I shut it all down and then tried to re-start it... you could hear the crickets chirping.

Mazda Protege instrument cluster
That would be about right. Zero kph.

Maddeningly, it started just fine this morning and I was able to drive it down to the local dealership, a nice bunch of people who just opened, and are only taking delivery of their diagnostic service equipment today.

Dave Wood Motorsports Mazda RX-8
Maybe they'll lend me this one instead?

They are optimistic, but I rather suspect that the poor old Protege is not going to be ready to go for the annual cottage weekend, which is approaching fast. And, for added fun and games, with a train strike likely to start today, finding a rental car next week will likely be nigh impossible.

Cars. Stupid things. Too bad I love them so much.

Desert Lake, Ontario - land of the big sky
This is where I need to get to.


Anonymous said...

I thought that slow electrical disappearing trick only happened with VWs! At least it happened with my old GTI, and like you, I somehow coasted home and somehow the car started the next morning so I could get it to the dealer. It turned out to be the alternator. Good luck!

Ricardipus said...

Thanks. I'm hoping it's the alternator, since that's easily replaced, and not horrendously expensive. I was worried for a while that it might be the transmission, which would be very bad indeed...!

The Wrath of Dawn said...

Yeah, probably the alternator. I just replaced that on my 2000 626. Runs like a top now.

It's always had quirky electrical stuff going on, though. The CD player is positively POSSESSED. And since the keyless entry doohickey died it honks its own horn from time to time. Also locks and unlocks itself. Fun times.

Ricardipus said...

Update - it is, as you both suspected, the alternator. By Monday evening, all should be well. I hope.

The car's over nine years old now, and hasn't had any major problems to date, so I'm not so upset about it. All in all, it didn't happen at such a bad time, provided they can get the part in to the shop on Monday.

#Debi said...

Glad to hear it's nothing too bad. My first thought was also alternator. My went out on the highway. Radio went off, and as I looked at it to see wtf, I noticed that the speedometer said I was going 0 mph. Except that I was clearly going about 70 mph. That was the last car, though. This one, after having it about a year, apparently has a slow-growing tumor in the transmission. Prayer (no fasting, though, thankyouverymuch) every AM seems to be working for now... :)

heheh, my wv = phogie

Ricardipus said...

Debi - seems such tales are not uncommon... and there I was thinking it was demonic possession. Alternator, how mundane. ;)

Aled said...

I was going to suggest the battery, as my 9 year-old Toyota had problems like electric windows wouldn't open. But it was the battery. I was surprised that it was the first one evah. In Florida and California where I lived, batteries generally lasted 1 - 2 years. They fried. Not as nice as fried chicken (some of them are 'battery' hens...).
Glad the cottage looms. Question, why do Canadians call them 'cottages'? Most that I've witnessed are pretty solid devices despite owing much to the 'we'll stick a tarp over here for a room for the kids' type.

Ricardipus said...

Aled - it turned out to be the alternator. Batteries tend to last well up here, unlike in hot places.

"Battery hens" - that were absolutely horrible, that were. Well done.