Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Car repair

My general technical knowledge pertaining cars is awful. Awful, I tell you. I am able to check oil and change tyres, that's about it. At the most, I am able to replace the battery, after letting the old one die because of neglect. This bugs me, because a car is not that complicated when compared, for example, to a PC. And if my PC dies, I usually don't rest until I drag it back into live, kicking and screaming and wielding a soldering iron (me that is, not the PC).

But the car? Case in point: Three weeks ago I visited my friends A&A (now extended to A&A&M&I - twins) in the French Jura. My car had already  shown some intermittend reluctance to accelerate when I came back from the training camp, and I was planning to have it checked out Real Soon (tm).

Of course, right before we wanted to leave on what promised to be an excellent walk, the following conversation happened:

Car: Cough.
Boris: What?
Car: Cough. Hrmph-cough.
Boris: Oh no you don't.
Car: Hrmph. Cough cough. Argl cough.
Boris: Don't you @#%@ dare...
Car: Hrrrrmpf. Argl. Arglgargl. Cough cough cough cough.

Needles to say, my car won that argument. So A&A&M&I  left with a more compliant vehicle, while I popped the hood of my Colt, and - well. I checked that no cable had come loose. Then I called the towing service.

The guy knew what he was about, and also had a quick conversation with my car:

Mechanic: So, let's start you up.
Car: Argl arglargl cough argl.
Mechanic: What's that you are saying? (pushes accelerator).
Car: arglarglarglarglargl. Cough.

Clearly, my car speaks much better French than I do (or maybe a local dialect of the Jura?), because  he understood without problems: my car was only running on three cylinders. He quickly demonstrated that to me (and this is how you can find out for yourself) by pulling out and replacing the high-voltage cables that go to the spark-plugs one after the other.  The motor's coughing got much worse with three of them, but stayed the same with cylinder four: we had found our culprit. In fact, the cylinder was thankfully blameless - it was the high-voltage cable itself that was broken.

Unfortunately there didn't seem to be a cable like that to be had in the Jura, even though I tried three different mechanics. So the friendly guy replaced the broken cable with one that was much too short, but managed to establish an electrical connection from time to time, giving me short bursts of acceleration:

With that, I limped back to Lausanne (taking significantly longer than normally). But last week the replacement cables finally arrived

and over the weekend I "repaired" my car - if you can call unplugging one cable and replacing it repair. I can, obviously, but then I am a manly man.

Also, I really need to buy a repair manual for my car.


  1. I don't fix cars either. It's one (of many) reasons I got married. I'm glad the fix was relatively easy. My previous vehicle had a timing problem that stumped two mechanics (not that they admitted it when they charged me) and my husband. But, I had the last laugh. I traded it in for far more than it was worth.

    I don't take guff from inanimate objects.

  2. So I should probably get married as well?
    Off I go, in search of a cute auto-mechanic!

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. It was so informative! Cars are essential for us since is it our primary means of transportation. This is why it's very important to have their condition checked as they reach their prime. A regular checkup is well-advised when owning a car. This will also be efficient in order not to have bigger problems with the car parts.