25 March, 2008

Faster than a speeding rodent [Repost from Facebook]

Location: Honda Habitrail

you’ve probably heard my car story, part one. in case you have not. here is synopsis, in bullet text:

* my corolla was 14 years old with 150,000 miles
* it was embarrassing and nasty including peach cobbler odor from “accident”
* i was dating a crazy girl who told me i needed to “redefine myself”
* part of said redefinition included a new car
* i went along with this, for unknown reason. possibly no spine?
* looked at hondas (was disgruntled they don’t make civic hatchback anymore)
* looked at toyotas (i don’t want another one, and the dealers were assholes)
* looked at VW (and they’re overpriced, and i kept stalling it because of clutch)
* looked at mazda… liked the mazda3
* except for 2.3L engine, which meant it was rated 22 city / 29 highway
* i was optimistic that it would perform better than this
* i bought one
* i was wrong (averaged 24.5 mpg for mostly highway driving over 7,000 miles)
* i was disgruntled
* had bad dreams about the fuel efficiency – seriously
* decided to buy a new home
* did not want car payment
* did not want low mpg embarrassment to Japanese engineering
* sold my car on craigslist for only $700 less than I paid for it
* decided to buy a Honda civic hatchback from late 90’s because of reputation for good mpg
* no car payment, bonus
* found out my friend matt who is in south America was willing to sell me his, located in portland

that brings us up to the present month. (i am already bored with this story, but i must tell it).

so… i decide to buy matt’s car. he is not here, but his parents have the car. we talk about price, and decide to use blue book as our guideline. the car is stated as good-to-excellent condition, with low miles (72,000 for a 1996 = low miles). so i am supposed to go down to portland last weekend to get the car, and i am going to take the train. i coordinate with matt and his family. they tell me a few days before that maybe the battery is dead since the car hasn’t been started in a long time, and that we may need to go replace it (when i get there - would have been nice to just have it replaced before i got there… but maybe not fair to ask his family to do that, agreed).

so… i take the train to portland (with denise = $88 for 2 tickets).

i get there, and discover, yes, the battery is dead. and also find out that the car was very nasty inside because of mold, and mildew problems after sitting a long time. nobody had looked at it until that morning. or driven it in months. his parents did kindly clean the interior that day. but it still smelled very very bad and maybe i should have known that before coming down to portland by train?

then… we test drive, and notice upon stopping, that a mouse just jumped out of the car from somewhere underneath, and scurries away. hm… interesting.

then… we notice that, well, maybe the car kind of smells a little bit “mousy”.

actually, more accurate would be to say it smells like the inside of a mouse research facility that has not been cleaned in weeks.

and… there is a small puddle of yellow liquid on the floor mat under the passenger seat = mouse pee.

and… we turn on the heater fan and there is a loud clunking rattling noise that liberates toxic mouse and pee and ammonia (and hantavirus?) fumes! and sounds like something is being crushed or tossed around!

so… at this point, his parents are saying “are you sure you want to buy it?”

but my alternative is to take the train back to seattle, carless, for a round trip waste of time of $180. so i decide to take the car.

we drive back, windows open, no heat, smelling ammonia and piss and mildew.

i took it to a honda dealer who removed “the nest” from the heating system. but the car still smells of pee. they said that detailing the interior and blowing out vents with some type of sanitizing chemicals (for hundreds of dollars) MAY help things, but probably will not completely resolve it.

matt is being great about it, and is going to cover the costs to resolve the matter. but it’s still not the simple process i thought it would be… yikes.

the good news?

driving back from portland: 38.8 miles per gallon. that almost makes it worth it.

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