I've commented before that I seem to blog a lot about car-related issues. For some reason, there is just a lot of car drama in my life. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, car drama is not so bad. But like any other drama, it is stressful. And blogging helps diffuse some of the stress. Although I wasn't supposed to be posting tonight; right now I should be in a hotel in Whiteville, NC, in preparation for a training tomorrow morning. But no. My car apparently wasn't in the mood to transport.
I left around 12:30, and made it as far as Benson (where I-40 and I-95 intersect). The transmission was having a nervous breakdown or something. It couldn't decide what gear be in. I would be going a steady 65, and it would downshift for like three seconds, then go back to normal. This was easy enough to overlook one or two times, but it kept getting worse. Soon the car was jolting and shuddering really badly, kind of like when a kid learns to drive stick shift. There was nothing I could do. Letting up on the gas didn't help; neither did giving it more gas.
Eventually I had to get off the freeway and decide what to do. Renting a car isn't really an option on a Sunday, since no one is open. I could risk driving the remaining 80 miles to get to my destination, but what about driving back? Clearly the car is in need of repairs, and with my Georgia trip coming up, I wouldn't be able to take it in until July. So I called my co-trainer and he said it was okay to miss the Whiteville training and just go back to Raleigh.
Once I got back on the freeway, the car was behaving a little better, but soon it started acting up again. I got off the freeway to give it another rest, which helped, but less this time. Finally, two hours after departing, I made it home. The drive back was nowhere near as stressful as the drive out, because it was a comfort knowing that I was headed to familiar territory where I could take care of the situation and not feel helpless.
Now, I'm the first to admit that I'm clueless when it comes to auto repair, but my car has over 104,000 miles on it and I'm guessing the transmission's shot. I suppose it could be something relatively easy like a fluid issue or a belt or something, but I'm not feeling it. There's no way I'm paying for a new transmission, so I did a little car shopping online. I'm looking into a Honda Civic or Accord. I considered a hybrid, but they are considerably more expensive, and from what I've read, don't actually get all that much better mileage than, say, a regular Civic. The new '06 Civics are really nice inside and out, and the EX has some sweet options. If I go with an Accord, it would most likely have to be used; but I've been told that buying a used car makes more sense. I've also been told that the best time to buy a car is the end of the month (sales people deal more in an effort to meet their quotas) but I'll be out of town until Friday night, and Saturday is July 1. I doubt my car will last another month, although if I end up traveling a lot for work, maybe it will. I'm taking it to the dealership tomorrow, and hopefully they'll have a quick diagnosis. Thankfully I'm renting a car for my Georgia trip. Let's keep our fingers crossed that there's no car drama involved!
P.S. Probably the biggest bummer of this whole thing: on my way, I had planned to take a detour to Wilmington, to dip my toe the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. Oh well--there was crappy weather today anyway. I'll just have to go some other time.