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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Double A (beep beep) M C O Rocks!

I had a bit of a meltdown last week. Which is why I stopped posting updates for a while. If you remember, my check engine light came on in Jurgen, my Beemer on Thursday, the 17th, on my way back from a meeting in Portland. Chris has a code reader and the code that came up claimed it was the torque converter solenoid. He called around, got a price of $54 for the part, but was told it should really go to a garage to have the part put in instead of him trying. Good enough.

He called a local dealership we usually go to and they said it needed to go to a BMW dealer. Hell no - I knew I'd pay an arm and a leg. Chris went to warm up the Jeep for me (I didn't want to use Jurgen until he was fixed) and ran into our neighbor and told him about the Beemer's problems. Turns out our neighbor's brother in law has a foreign auto place not far from us and promised "he'll take good care of you."

So we called and arranged to drop off Jurgen Monday. Did that and waited for FAP (foreign auto place) to call us. At around 5 pm, he did. Said it wasn't the solenoid - that worked just dandy. He wanted to check more, but it was either the torque converter and/or the transmission. If it was the converter, it'd be around $1000, but if it was the transmission, I was looking at $3-4,000.

I burst into tears. None of my work was kicking in until January. We have absolutely NO money. We had been thinking about having the kids for their vacation next week, but now we couldn't pick them up/drop them off or even afford food while they were here, so we had to say no to that. No Christmas presents for us, tree or decorations.

Tuesday night, FAP calls and tells us the whole front end of the transmission was shot and the transmission needed to be replaced. I started crying again. Chris was at his wits end with me because if I wasn't crying, I was snapping at him (and only because he was the only person here to take my anger out on). He checked online in message boards and found a rebuilt for $1500, but we'd still have to come up with the money for it and pay for the installation.

Wednesday morning, I got back from my run w/Phoebe and Chris was at the door. "Call FAP and tell him we're picking up the Beemer and garaging it. Then we're taking it to AAMCO."

I didn't even know there was an AAMCO around here. So I called FAP. He didn't sound too happy (hell, he was going to be out a big chunk of money). We picked up Jurgen, drove it to AAMCO and immediately felt better. Both the manager and customer service manager were really nice and asked us to tell them everything from the moment the check engine light came on to what FAP told us.

They said that *if* it was the front end of the transmission, they could rebuild just that, and could probably reuse a lot of the parts in there already. I began to breathe easier. I had printed off a coupon for a free checkup. They gladly took it.

Chris & I went to WalMart to return a battery for the core deposit and pick up some odds and ends we could afford. AAMCO called. So far, they found NOTHING wrong w/the transmission. They wanted to do a pressure test. Hell yes - do it!

We drove over to AAMCO and they said the pressure test showed NOTHING was wrong. They then asked if one of their guys could take Jurgen home w/him, with a computer hooked up the whole way. The guy lived 35 miles away, so it would give Jurgen more than enough time for the check engine light to come back on. Of course, I said yes.

The next morning, AAMCO called. The computer showed NOTHING was wrong. We asked them to do a flush and fill of the transmission, just for my own peace of mind.

Went to pick up Jurgen and both the managers said the filter and fluid they drained out was normal dirty - nothing abnormal. The general manager said he took it out on the highway himself before the change and the check engine did not come on, nor did it feel like anything was wrong. While I was paying, they had a third guy take Jurgen for a test drive. He gave it a thumbs up. They charged me a whopping $154 for the flush/fill - the checkup was free (FAP charged me $80 for just looking at it). They told me to come right back if the check engine light does come back on.

I drove back Route 1 instead of the highway, my heart pounding, expecting the check engine light to turn on. It didn't. And Jurgen sounded and felt like new. The transmission shifts wonderfully.

I hate the thought I may have been ripped off by a neighbor's relative. I am not going to say anything to them unless they ask how it went, and even then, I'll just say we took it for a second opinion and got a better deal.

On top of all that, the new furnace guy came over, cleaned our furnace, told us the previous folks who had done it did a piss poor job. He was here for over two hours. We do need a new oil tank, but he said that can wait until summer.

We had Joanne over for Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, played Wii with her and had fun - we were all relieved and relaxed.

One of Chris' clients gave him a bonus, so on Christmas Day went to the local Chinese place for dinner. We didn't make them sing "fa ra ra ra" to us.

All I can say is a HUGE thank you to AAMCO. I am sending a letter of gratitude to their corporate offices.

I can't wait for New Year's Eve. 2010 has just got to be better. It has to.

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