Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cold front!

Oh, yeah! Big news in Victoria, TX. Our cold (cool) front arrived. Right now (6:16 p.m.) my outside thermometer (on the patio in the shade) reads only 86 degrees! Gee, yesterday at this time it was 96.

The Weather Channel says it might get as low as 60 tonight, but it’ll be back up in the low 90s tomorrow.

Oh, well. I’ll revel in the 60s temperature when I leave the house tomorrow to get in my car for the commute to work. It’s a promise of better, cooler times ahead.

New topic:

Today I spent $425 to have a new catalytic converter put on my van. The old one was rattling badly as though it was ready to fall off. The shop mechanic, a man I’ve been taking my vehicles to for years because I trust him, told me it was completely plugged and was really eating into my gas mileage.

Nice to know, just after returning from a 3000+ mile driving trip pulling a trailer! With gas at record high prices!

The darn van also has some vacuum issues. Symptoms? Well, the air conditioning blows out of whatever vent it happens to favor at the moment. It might be the floor, the dash, or the defrost vents. Or it might be all of the above at once, and sometimes it’s two of the above.

Of course, if you don’t like the vents it has chosen, don’t worry. It’ll soon change to some other vent combination without warning.

My friendly honest mechanic said he checked with the Dodge dealer and was sold a little $7.00 doohickey (that’s a mechanical technical term, for you mechanically challenged readers) that was suppose to fix vacuum problems on these Dodge vans “every time!”

Evidently my van is a pace-setter, because it is now the first of its kind on record to reject the doohickey fix. I hadn’t driven ½ mile from the shop before the cold air was blowing on my feet, and then switched all by itself up to the defrost vents. I turned the van around and went back.

Ed, my mechanic, shook his head and clucked. “John,” he said with a rueful look, “The only other thing I know to do is replace the controller assembly.” (That’s the part of the dashboard panel with all the little buttons and selectors for “Heat” and “A/C” and “Normal” and “Max,” and includes the four-speed blower selector.)

He went on, “I’m awful sorry, because the dealers are REAL proud of those suckers.”

Sounds like another $200-$300. Just what I need while I’m mortgaging the house to pay the gasoline bills for our vacation trip.

But at least the catalytic converter is fixed, so my future rate if gasoline indebtedness might not be quite so rapid.

I’m planning to take this van on our family ski trip next February. Gotta get it in good shape before that!

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