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This morning I got up at the ass-crack of dawn (6:00) and was ready to leave my house by 7:30 for the drive to Anniston, Alabama, to pick up my car from the Ford Dealership1, where it has been held hostage for 26 days.

I arrived at 8:30 and the dealership wasn't open, but on the off chance that someone was there, I tried the door. There was one guy inside. I asked him if my contact was there and he said "not yet," but when I mentioned why I was there, he said he had my paperwork, key, and the check from Geico for me to endorse.

I did all that, then went out to transfer all my crap from the rental car to my own car, then drove the rental back to Enterprise. They brought me back to the Ford dealership and, for the first time in 26 days, I was once again behind the wheel of my own car.

I cranked it and pulled out onto the road, headed back toward the Interstate. And noticed that the gas was so low, it was quivering below the "E."

That was when I also noticed that the "Check Engine" light was on. I turned on the radio to plug in my iPod so I could listen to some podcasts...and the radio demanded that I enter my code.

I won't share what I actually said. There might be tender readers. I did, however, suggest that the body shop guys were involved in incestuous—nay, Œdipal—relationships; that the entirety of their cranial tissue consisted solely of fecal matter; and that their collective parents were never married. I may also have let slip that I wished for them to consume fecal matter immediately prior to termination of their lives. And after said termination of life processes, I may have expressed a strong desire for these same people to be condemned for eternity to experience extreme thermal discomfort.

Afterward, I turned around and, instead of going back to the Ford dealership—the body shop is closed on weekends—I went to the Honda dealership.

The guy who helped me there immediately knew how to fix the radio, which he did, while rolling his eyes that the guys at the body shop just left it that way and let me drive it off the lot.2

"We'll have to get a mechanic to hook it up to the computer to see what's wrong with the engine, though."

So I went into the waiting room and sat down.

Approximately 45 minutes later, they called me out to the car.

The mechanic showed me something he said was the throttle...something (I didn't write it down; I'm sorry to be completely non-mechanical). At any rate, it had a tiny little piece of the corner missing, probably—according to the mechanic—because when I hit the dog, it drove the fan blades back and one of them clipped the corner of this...thing. He said it's very sensitive, and chances are it's not actually damaged, but on the other hand, it might signal the car that the throttle is wide open when I'm actually stopped and am trying to put the car into park, and it won't let me.

He recommended that I get Geico to pay for that part to be replaced, as well. And of course it can't just be replaced. The entire part of the engine it's located in has to be removed...

...to the tune of some $350 more dollars. He assured me that I could safely drive the car at least for a few days, and to ignore the light, because it would probably go on and off sporadically.3

He was right. It has been both on and off at various times during the rest of the day.

Also somewhat obnoxiously, they managed to drive my car down to where there was only .7 gallons of gas left in the tank. I know they had to drive it to test it, but couldn't they have put a gallon of gas in it? Yeesh. I had to put 14.3 gallons in a 15-gallon tank. It's a wonder I made it to a service station (not BP, not Exxon).4, 5

Now, the total cost of me hitting a dog at Interstate speeds (I checked—the speed limit at the spot where it happened is 70 mph, so I was going within 2 mph of 70 when I hit the dog) on said Interstate is:
My Deductible: $500
Geico Paid: $3237
Rental Car: $843
Throttle...thingy: $350

Total: $4930
I called Geico and they told me how to go about getting the last $350 taken care of, so I guess I'll pursue that next week.

Oy. Just shy of $5000. For hitting a dog.

Stupid dog.
  1. Sunny King Honda is where I originally took it, but Sunny King is apparently the only car dealership in town: Sunny King Honda, SK Ford, SK Kia/Scion, etc. But they share a single body shop, which is located at Sunny King Ford. Hence it's not entirely weird that a Ford dealership had my Honda.
  2. The manager of the service center at Sunny King Honda all but called the manager of the body shop at home to...express his disdain. I have a feeling that he will get an earful about allowing a customer to drive away a car with the Check Engine light lit and the radio disabled.
  3. In Sunny King Honda/Ford/Kia/Scion/Etc.'s defense: It's entirely possible they did not know about the throttle...thingy. As I said, the damage is small, and unless you're looking for it—and why would you, unless the engine light came on and you hooked it up and the computer told you it was message P1121 (Throttle Position Lower than Expected)?—it's hard to spot. And since the light was only on some of the time, again, it's entirely possible that it never came on when they had the car started.
  4. When I left the car, it had just over 300 miles on the tank. When I picked it up, it had 343.
  5. I have not bought so much as a stick of gum from Exxon since the oil spill in Alaska years ago. BP has now been added to that list.

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( 5 hisses — Hiss at me! )
May. 9th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC)
I'm still glad you came out of all that unscathed, even if your wallet didn't.
May. 9th, 2010 04:42 am (UTC)
The important thing is that you're okay.

By the way, avoiding particular gas stations is fruitless, as all gas stations, regardless of the brand name, buy gas from all companies.
May. 10th, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
My understanding is that BP is one of the few chains to use only their own gasoline; that's why their signs usually say "Featuring Amoco fuels" or somesuch.

Not that I agree with boycotting a company over an accident they had little or nothing to do with; but if you want to hold BP's feet to the fire for some reason, this is as good a way to do it as any.
May. 11th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
Sort of.

All pipelines mix the same grade gas together. Put 10,000 gallons in one end, get 10,000 gallons out the other.. Just not the same 10,000 gallons. But it really doesn't matter since gasoline is a commodity.

After the Exxon Valdez, Exxon (now Exxon-Mobile) went on the fast track to double-hull their entire tanker fleet, well ahead of the legal requirements. So, you can either punish an old mistake or you can reward them for taking expensive, positive steps so that such a problem never happens again.

Still too early to figure out what went wrong with the BP well in the Gulf. Several things had to go wrong in sequence for this kind of thing to happen.

And yes, Citgo is a thug-ocracy owned state oil company. Kinda like GM except with oil instead of cars.
May. 9th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
Another gas company not to buy from
And Citgo is right out because of the Chavez connection.
( 5 hisses — Hiss at me! )

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