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).