Posts Tagged ‘Alternator’

Rust in Peace 1995-2009

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Although declared ‘clinically dead’ Christmas week, 2008, for not having an alternator (See: “Alternator Alternative” in a previous post), my ‘95 Eagle Talon lived about 6-more weeks and gently passed away yesterday on Monroe Ave. She was 14.

Against incredible odds – no alternator, driver side door couldn’t be closed, a lifetime of less than 10 oil changes and three tune-ups, a hanging muffler, few backup lights, no horn, no heat, stolen once, no radio, non-working front seat belts (the back ones were fine), seven reported accidents, one dangling front turn light socket, one windshield wiper, 2 good tires, loudly-clicking tie rods, and (last week) me adding water – not anti-freeze – (who knew?) to the radiator, the Talon happily started every day with only a cheap battery I bought at Walmarts. The end came with a little puff of smoke and all her radiator fluid flowing onto the street.

Ironically, just last week she passed a NYS Inspection after I asked a friend to bring her to his ‘inspector’. The ‘inspector’ passed my Talon in less than 2-minutes. I’m told he only asked one question, “Did you bring the Scotch tape?”. And sadly, I was about to store her for the season to protect her from rusting salt – and bring out my winter “junker”. I shouldn’t have waited.

Rarely did a day pass when other drivers did not notice her well-designed attributes. Enthusiastically pointing, they’d shout through closed windows, “Your lights!”, “Your muffler!” “Your DOOR!” I’d knowingly nod my head and smile – sometimes I’d even mouth “Thank you” – and wave. I’m a modest man – acknowledging her superior features was always a little embarrassing.

Over the years, some have accused me of auto abuse – kind of like the ‘Chris Brown of Cars.’ But any minor mistreatment of my beauty was benign – sins of omission and emission – never of transmission.

I was quite sad and a little insulted yesterday just before the Salvation man towed my Talon away. He wanted to give me $50.00 in her memory. I wouldn’t take it though – somehow it would have cheapened our relationship. Instead I asked him to give the money to his favorite charity in “her” name.

He assured me he certainly would.

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Tomorrow: BARBIE’S 50th Birthday!

Alternator Alternative

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

I drive a ’95, black Eagle Talon. It has about 90,000 miles on it. Ten years ago, it was in much better shape. So was I. I’d like to say I took good care of the car but I’d like to say a lot of things. The truth is, I’ve paid little attention to it at all since I bought it new. A mechanic once asked me, “when was the last time you had a tuneup?” My response? “How old are you now?”

Oil changes? Great idea – but my car has had to “suffer” without them (maybe 4 in 13-years). The last few years it’s burned so much oil, I’ve had to add about 2-quarts every 3 weeks or when I remember. So I figure the oil is relatively clean. The oil filter? I’m in denial about that one. I think mechanics just pretend it exists to scare the hell out of me and charge more.

Well, not surprisingly to some of you, my car has developed a few problems in the last year. The muffler is but a distant memory, the tie-rods up front click like signal blinkers on steroids, and the alternator is dead. The driver’s door cannot close because of an accident (not my fault!) which crushed the door and 2/3’s of the left side. Allstate Insurance sent me a check for $2300 worth of damage and I said, “that’s the prettiest dent I ever saw” – and didn’t get it fixed. Now the driver’s door can’t close which is a bitch when you make a fast right turn and you’d have to be tripping to see any brake lights.

Anyway, last month, AAA had to jump start the car three times – for free – or what I paid for a yearly membership fee. It’s a terrible inconvenience to them but I don’t really give a damn. The thing about which I DO care is this stupid ‘alternator thing’.  Weeks ago, ‘Advantage Auto’ said my alternator was completely dead. Yah, right.

You see, the car runs fine for a few weeks after it’s been “charged”. So I bought a cheap battery at Wal-Marts ($46) and a friend lent me a portable battery charger with which to drive around. I’ve driven for WEEKS on this system and so far so good. If the car doesn’t start someday, I’ll just charge it and ride on – no problem.

So why would anyone need an alternator anyway? I know that sounds dumb but buying a “rebuilt” alternator (what the hell is that?) and having it installed costs about $250.00. The way I look at it, buying a cheap battery ($46.00) and a battery charger (about $39.00) will last me into the next century. My car will die long before that from some other automobile ailment.

If you know why someone like me and my car NEEDS an ‘alternator’, let me know. If I hear from no one, I’ll know this alternator-gadget is just one more way to bilk car owners. Mechanics – you should be ashamed!

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