Category Archives: The Altima

Car broken into

Today sucked.
My car got broken into sometime last night, along with 4 others from the complex. Nothing was stolen (that I’ve found yet, anyway); a police report was filed; prints were taken. Just the right-passenger side window damaged. Called my insurance, but since I didn’t have comprehensive vehicle damage coverage, it’ll be all out of pocket. That’s okay; the deductible would have probably been more than the repair bill anyway (got a quote at $195).
I left a message with the apartment complex shortly after I discovered it around 8:30 this morning; so far they have not returned my call.










Unlicensed

I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this. Within the last month, somehow I misplaced my BC driver’s license. Which I need, because my Florida one expired last Monday. And I can’t get a new Florida one until my visa is renewed. Which is being processed, and which, according to the INS, could take up to another three months. And the public transit system here sucks (read: doesn’t run after 6pm). 🙁 This sucks.
On the plus side, it’s a long weekend 🙂

Fixin the Altima

[picture: sunset at siesta key]
Typically, the pictures posted on my blog are recent: you’ll see them up here within a day or two from when they were taken. However, I haven’t gone photohunting lately, so today’s image comes to you from all the way back to mid-May.
Mom and Dad did the “Which Movie do You Belong In” test tonight over iChatAV. Mom got Tarzan, Dad got the Power Rangers movie. Hee hee! (Incidentally they accused me of swearing a lot on my blog. Does that make any fcuking sense to you? I mean WTF!?)
For lunch today, I ordered one overhead light lense, two sun visors and one wheel cover. It wasn’t very tasty! Should make my car a little nicer to ride in though.
So I explained to the guy at the Gettel Nissan parts department that I needed new hubcab. “Okay,” he said, “I think we might even have one in stock. Just show me which car is yours so I can confirm I’ve got the right kind.” And I did. And he came back to his catalog. Looked through it for about 10 minutes, flip flip flip. Nothing. Finally he got a screw driver and popped off one of my three wheel covers so he could get at the model number. Turns out they’re 240SX wheel covers! Hahah…. so I’ve now got a 240SX wheel cover on special-order. $31. Not bad — a replacement for a single Altima-style wheel cover is 52!
Altogether, a $119 day. I needed most of this stuff when I bought the car a year ago. Item left on my relatively immediate to-do list: fix the driver’s side lock. Every time I use the car, I’ve got unlock the passenger side door, get in, reach across and unlock the driver’s side, back out of the passenger side of the car and walk back around. The whole procedure is starting to get a little “long in the tooth”, if that’s the expression. I’m on a roll now (Rush fans: or is it a slide) — I think I’m going to see how much it will cost to get fixed some time in the next week or so! Woot.

Dad, Dream, Car and Book

Sunday, when Eric came over to pick me up, he pointed to a picture and asked if the man in it was my Dad. “How’d you know?!” was my answer. I’d never really thought I looked much like Dad, but apparently I do. Cool!
Had a dream this morning. That in itself is odd enough. The details are fuzzy but the major premise is still clear in my head. I was leaving Victoria to fly back to Sarasota — saying bye to family again — except this time I was leaving my apartment in Sarasota, which was somehow located in Victoria. Yeah.
Took the Altima into Gettel Nissan this morning. Around noon today George called me with an initial diagnosis; turns out the engine malfunction light came on because of a damaged rear O2 sensor; there are four O2 sensors in my car. Replacing that sensor, including labor and parts, would be $271.
The suspected cause for the rattling noise was a loose timing chain. He said I could get the timing chain guides realigned and replace the valve seals for $99, or I could get the whole chain replaced; that would be something around $1000 of work. I opted to call him back.

After instant messaging with Sue — she works on Nissans as a hobby — I called George back and asked if they planned to move the timing chain to tighten it. George said, “it’s just not possible to move the chain and try it out. The chain controls the timing of the whole car.” Flustered, since I was under the impression it should be possible, I told him I’d call back later. After chatting with Sue a little more I was re-armed: they definitely should be able to move the timing chain. Would they consider it? If so, would they be moving it from the first timing mark on the cam rotor, or from the second one? George couldn’t give me an answer.
Okay, now I’m a bit (okay, a lot) naive about these kinds of things, but that was a bit of a trustbreaker. George had made it sound like it was going to himself that was working on my car. Nope. It’s alright, though; eventually I got to speak to the mechanic — his name’s Milan! — and he explained that moving the timing chain would be a very laborious process, and would about 10 hours (book time). At sixty-three something thousand miles, this car probably doesn’t need to have it done. He could tell the last owners probably didn’t keep up with their oil changes. Grreaaaaat. First thing on my list of stuff to-do.
So I opted to replace the damaged O2 sensor — which had to be done — and went for the $99 de-rattle option (guide realignment).
Took a cab out there after work; the total bill came to $397. There’s a mystery $27 charge on the bill — I think they might have charged me for the complimentary checkup. They were closed when I got there (I paid over the phone by check-card earlier); I’ll be calling them tomorrow.
Turned on the car: rattle rattle. d’Oh! Look at the bill-of-work: “rattle not completely eliminated”. Yeah, I’ll say. Might have even been a little louder!
But this story has a happy ending. Any disappointment I had about the persistence of the rattle was minimized by the fact that my car now seems to accelerate faster! The theory is that now that all of my O2 sensors are functioning, I’m getting a better air-gas ratio == more responsive engine!

Finally, on the way home from the car repair shop, i picked up the Haynes manual for my car — cost me $17, but I hate feeling like such a clueless newbie on the phone (that, and, well, Sue got me kind of curious about how it all works).

Taking the Altima In


8:23am. So I called up Gettel Nissan, and I’m taking my car in to get inspected early tomorrow morning. The guy I spoke to was named George; he sounds like a nice guy.
Update, 10:46am: Spoke to Simon about the engine malfunction light. I told him the manual said that it could be because of emissions problems, and he said yeah, that could be it. $50 bucks top. He also said that it could be for any number of other reasons, too — a broken rod, even not having the gas cap on correctly (this would change the pressure inside the gas tank). He advised I go back to the place I got the muffler done at and to ask them to check if the sensors were aligned properly on the exhaust system — going this way might save me some money. I explained I could also use going to Gettel as an opportunity to ask about the rattling noise coming from my engine, since they’re authorized Nissan dealers and all. Also, he’s giving me a ride from Gettel to work tomorrow. Hooray!

Is the Altima in trouble?


So last night what looks like a “Check Engine” light came on on the Altima‘s dash.
I just called up the closest Nissan dealer, Gettel. Unfortunately they’re closed till Monday! d’Oh. I guess I’ll be calling back then. For the time being, the manual goes on to recommend that I don’t exceed speeds of 72km/hr, and, if possible, I should “avoid hard acceleration or deceleration”. This is not going to be easy!

Car back from garage

So when I dropped the car off, I asked them to call me about the sound coming from the engine before they proceed with any other work, since if it costs too much I don’t really want to get anything else done. Well, anything else except for that “outer c/v boot” problem I mentioned this morning. That problem could get more expensive to fix if it’s not addressed soon — the other items can wait.
Well, noon rolls by and they haven’t called. Go for lunch. Come back. No voicemail! How odd. So I call them at 2:20pm. No answer. Call them again at 4:30pm. They fixed the boot. And my left blinker, which I didn’t ask them to fix, but needed fixing anyway.
Grand total was $135 — $100 for the boot replacement and $35 for fixing the blinker and diagnosing the sound from the engine. Unfortunately I got to Swift right at closing time, so I didn’t have a chance to talk to the mechanic that worked on my car, but I do have a little print out that was less than helpful at explaining what the sound was: “sound coming from under timing belt cover”, or something like that. I guess that’s the best they can do without actually opening it up and incurring some sort of labor charge, but man, I’m still in unknown waters pricewise.
Strangely, the car seems to be able to shift better. Not sure why, but I like it!

Taking the car into the shop today

So I’m taking the Altima into the shop this morning. Swift Auto, to be precise — the same folks who looked over my car before I decided to purchase it. Simon’s going to drive me back. I’m going to get them to call me with an estimate before they do any work on the “timing pulley” issue — it could get expensive. So expensive, in fact, I’m going to get them to look at it before anything else. It might not be worth it to fix the rest of the car if that costs too much!
Also, the rest of the costs are fairly straightforward:

  • Needs cooling system flush – 55 est
  • Needs outer c/v boot or axle – 100 or 225
  • Needs tune-up – 75 est
  • Hoses feel good but 7 years old – 200 est for all

    New things about the car that I’ve discovered need repair since I bought it: the driver’s side lock does not unlock from outside; windshield washer fluid resevoir has a crack in it (any fluid you put in it leaks straight out); and of course the muffler disconnection problem I obtained 10 days ago while driving down Tuttle Ave to play Ultimate. For the muffler, the plan is to get a muffler specialist to look at it.