siobhan’s saga sends stress soaring

My stomach is still in knots. Siobhan, our second hand Toyota, is back with a new clutch but we’re going straight back to the mechanic to have her brakes attended to.

The really upsetting part, however, is that the problem I’m most uncomfortable with is still unidentified. Now, each time I look at Siobhan in the driveway, I’m fearfully anticipating an anxious, stressful drive.
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Siobhan has this intermittent behaviour where she’ll suddenly lose power. It happens most often after being stopped at an intersection. I rev the engine, release the clutch slowly, looking for that sweet spot, and sometimes she’ll move forward but lots of times she doesn’t. There’s about a 15-second gap between when I’ve pressed the gas and the motor revs, and when the car actually moves. I become terrified of being hit from behind by traffic assuming I’ll move forward consistently. Each time I see a traffic light, I try slowing down, hoping if I creep up to it it’ll change to green by the time I get there. And if I am indeed stopped, then in starting up I’ll over-rev, producing a vulgar, street-racer noise and probably sending all the drivers around me looking into their mirrors wondering who’s the idiot that’s trying to race through two lanes of heavy traffic.

When we drove home from Mr. Transmission, we noticed immediately that Siobhan leapt forward in first gear. Happily thinking the problem was solved, we made it all the way down a short stretch of highway into town traffic, and at the first light, she lost her power momentarily not in first gear, but in second. Great.

She’s been through the mechanic’s diagnostics a number of times, but she passes every time. The latest theory is that there’s a sensor monitoring the throttle position and that that’s what’s misbehaving.

In any case, I’m left with trying to manage my fears while driving. The intensity of my fear, when I’m safe and stationary and can reflect upon what’s happening, is way above normal. The moment my foot presses down on the accelerator and nothing happens my fingers clench, my stomach drops, and I’m wordlessly praying for help. The longer the gap between the engine catching and my foot signal, the more I start to tremble, and look frantically in all the mirrors hoping other drivers will give me a wide berth. Should I put on the hazard signals? Shift back into neutral? Press harder on the gas? Restart the car? Then, just as a cold feeling of shock begins, Siobhan kicks in and we move slowly off. She moves forward confidently as if absolutely nothing has happened. I breathe deeply, loosen my death grip on the wheel, and look ahead with increasing fear to the next set of lights. Will we make it through without having to stop? Will she do the same thing again? Will it be worse? Can I do anything differently to prevent this from happening?

Usually we go through a run of 3 or 4 bad moments before either we’re on the highway without intersections or I arrive at the parking lot for the day. I’m exhausted.

We love our current mechanic, but I’m so distressed that we’ve decided to get a second opinion. Nick’s going to try another mechanic on Friday.

In the meantime, I’m trying to handle my stress. I’m coaching myself to understand that just because the car has intermittent challenges, this does not mean that I am stuck in the middle of a wilderness with no access to food or water and as vulnerable as a newborn. Intellectually, I point out to myself what resources I have. I’m a grown woman, travelling in a populated area. The twenty minute commute is not my whole life. But it’s tough. The idea of depending on something so often undependable brings back very young feelings of relying on grownups who were unreliable. I think that’s what makes this particular automobile idiosyncrasy so painful. So I suppose this is karma, another opportunity to work out an emotional glitch.

I sure wish there were an easier way!

#car repairs #karma

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