Friday, October 22, 2010

car is dead

It finally kicked the bucket.

I have been dealing with cooling issues for quite a while, without finding a real solution to the issue. BMWs are notorious for their weak cooling systems. I forgot to replace the radiator cap after adding coolant yesterday and by the time I figured it out, a whole bunch of air had been sucked into the radiator. I didn't realize this until I left work to meet a friend for dinner when the temperature gauge nosed into the danger zone.

Pulling into a Taco Bell parking lot off of a busy section of Sepulveda in Manhattan Beach, I pulled the hood off and leaned it against the chain link fence. In order to purge the air out of the radiator, you have to apply pressure to the system and force it all out of a bleed valve. The normal way to do this is by running the engine after letting it cool. The fast way is to pressurize the radiator manually. With your mouth. I was definitely not in the mood for the normal way. It must have been an odd sight to see an Asian man bent over the front of a BMW with the hood off, blowing into the radiator. It worked though.

Made it to dinner late but happy the car was running well. Headed off to small group after that, but noticed white smoke billowing from the tailpipe. Crap. The heat probably killed the headgasket. That's a pretty major repair for a car worth less than the tires it's riding on. Oh well, at least it was running.

Later that night, around 11, I tried to leave but it wasn't happening. No crank, no jumpstart, no nothing. Engine seemed like it was seized. Crap crap. Got a ride home and biked to work in the morning. Gave in and asked my mom for a ride after work to see if a push start would work. That's where you get a stalled car with a manual transmission moving and pop the clutch to start it, when the starter or battery is dead. No luck. Give up. One last try with the key and....a sputter! Okayyy, try jumping it again. LIFE! And more smoke. Lots of it. But life nonetheless.

Limped it to my parents house. 20 miles. Through Friday afternoon traffic. In LA. Every time we slowed down, the temp needle would shoot toward the red. Plus my mom, following behind, doesn't look before she changes lanes. Not the most carefree afternoon. Made it after an hour on pins and needles. Whew. Pretty sure that car is never gonna move under its own power again. Borrowing my dad's car for now. What should I get? This is a stressful decision for me. So many choices...

A- Same car (swap nice parts)
B- Older, cooler BMW
C- Pickup truck (utility?)
D- Motorcycle (coooool, but danger)
E- Volkswagen TDI (50 mpg woot!)
F- Classic American something or other
G- Bike it all day every day
H- Porsche 914
I- Ratty old Beetle
J- Don't say Honda Accord

(I realize you don't care about geeky car stuff. Even though it might get you out of a tough situation some day. Or save your life. And lots of money. You'll just keep a friend around who knows that stuff. And call him when you have car problems. He's okay with that.)

(I also realize that I spend more energy than I would like to on this stuff. Every time I swear it off, it comes creeping back eventually. I can't help it. It's just cool stuff. Gotta get to work somehow. Might as well do it with some style.)


  1. haha nate you sound so excited. i say get the volkswagem TDI, it seems most practical. what if you wanna go on some road trip decently far away? most of the other options wouldn't do... unless you're looking for more hassle (fun and challenge in ur case?)

    bye bye horned BMW

    what are you going to do with those nice seat covers?

  2. I vote for the Porsche, the Ferrari, and the Dont Say Honda Accord.