Monday, September 14, 2009


It all started with my Camry. Last week on Tuesday I picked Sarah up from her Cross Country practice and she wanted to drive. We stopped at the bank on the way home and Sarah waited in the car yacking on her phone while I did my business. As I was making my deposit Sarah runs into the bank with a very worried look on her face. Rather than coming over and talking to me directly she stands at the door so everyone can hear and in a very loud voice says, "Dad, somethings wrong with the car. All this stuff is running out from underneath it and the motor is making some very weird noises. " I look out the window and I can see that the car has overheated (again). I ask her if the engine is running and she says it's not so I tell her to wait until I'm done. Of course one the male tellers see's this cute damsel in distress and just has to help so when I get out to my car they have the hood open and he proceeds to tell me what is wrong with my car. I've had a small leak in the cooling system for a while now so the engine overheating is nothing new to me. I decide to let him go ahead and tell me all about the splash pattern and I realize he's making sense. I decide to take a closer look at how the water has splashed all around my engine compartment and that leads me to a quarter inch hole in the casting that houses the thermostat. I take the gallon jug of water that I keep in the car for this very purpose and when I fill up the radiator and turn on the engine there is a jet of water shooting from the casting. I think I've found my "small" leak.

With Lisa in Utah and my Camry out of commission I'm now down to one vehicle, my pickup. I drive my pickup to work on Wednesday and then Wednesday evening I'm driving Sarah's friend home and suddenly my engine loses power. It runs for a little while but continuously gets' slower and slower. Finally I can tell the poor little truck just isn't going to make it so I coast onto a residential side street and there we sit. We call for a ride and proceed to make plans for how we're going to do seminary, piano lessons, school and work with no vehicles. Thursday morning while Sarah is at seminary I call Marie Riches to let her know why Sarah will be missing her piano lessons and she graciously offers to let me use one of her vehicles. I at first decline but when she insisted I realized that I'm in big trouble with no vehicle so I accept her offer.

Friday Lisa finally arrives home from Utah. She gets home about 3:30 and as soon as I get home from work we're off to Malibu to see the new granddaughter. We stop in Anaheim to pick up Ben and when I pull into the parking lot for his apartment building we turn the car off to call Ben. When I go to start the car again the battery is so dead that it won't even turn over. How can a battery just drive for ten hours and then go dead in a matter of two minutes? Fortunately, a beat up old Volkswagen Van pulls in beside me. I realize that any body with an old beat up vehicle like that must have booster cables. Sure enough he did and once we figured out that his battery is under his front seat we're on our way.

Saterday I head out to figure out how to get my little truck home and low and behold, it was gone! The dirty bounders had towed my truck. I was rather ticked because I'm sure I had parked it legally. I call the police and they tell me the sheriff towed it. I call the sheriff and they tell me the company that did the towing. I call them and they tell me it was towed because it had an expired registration. Darn it, they were right. I had paid the registration on-line so I could avoid a late fee but I never got the smog certificate until after the deadline. I had been waiting for the sticker to come but meanwhile here I was with no truck. The good news is that the part for my Camry came in on Saturday so I replaced that casting and put my Camry back into service. I just may have fixed that confounded leak once and for all.

DMV was closed on the weekend so there was nothing I could do until today, Monday. I don't know what the DMV is like where you live but in California they have the reputation of being a place to avoid. The reputation is justified. I arrived at the DMV around 11:00 and left at 3:30. Like an idiot, I didn't take a book. I could have gotten lots of reading done in there. When my turn finally came to go up to the counter I was told that I hadn't paid my registration. I know for a fact that I have, but in order to get my truck out of hawk I decided to pay the registration and come back later with proof that I did pay. By the time I paid the registation and late fee's for the Camry and the Ranger I was $300 poorer. Ouch, that hurt.

It was now on to "Road One Towing". I hate those people. I have heard from two different people that one of the ways the state is trying to make up for the financial crises they've created for themselves is they are now in cayhoots with the street sweepers. Anytime a street sweeper comes across a vehicle that can be towed they radio into the cops who come out and ticket or tow you. So I get to Road One Towing and the 300 pound woman behind the counter informs me that I need to go to the sheriffs office to get my vehicle released. She had a major attitude also. I point out that she might have mentioned that when I was talking to her on the phone. She then assures me that she does NOT answer the phones. I suggest she might pass the message along to the girl who does answer the phone. She then informed me that she would mention it to the "50" people on the phones. I look at the 10' x 10' office I'm standing in and I say, "you really tow that many vehicles?" In her snide little voice she tells me that they have twenty offices across the city. Right!

I then head for the sheriffs office. I'm the only person in the office and I sit there for over an hour waiting for the cop to do something with my paperwork. I was ready to scream. Finally they stamp my paper and let me go. It took an hour for them to stamp my paper. Luckily I kept my cool and decided not to say what I really wanted to say. The day was already going downhill fast I didn't need to end up in one of the cells in the back room.

Back at Road One Towing I hand over my credit card (no checks or money orders) and another $400 dissappears from my bank account. Three hundred for the tow and $100 for daily impound fees. I hate those guys. Finally they take the huge chain off the gate and I'm looking at my little pickup that doesn't run and I'm quickly trying to figure out just what I thought I was going to do. Just for laughs I decide to try starting it and to my surprise and joy it fires right up. I park next to my Camry and I make sure they both have current registration stickers on them and promising to come back for my Camry I head down the road with the truck. About a hundred yards down the street I start losing power again. I promptly make a U turn and parking the truck I took the Camry back to work. If I add up everything I've spent on registration, late fees, towing, impound fee's and lost wages this day has now cost me close to a thousand dollars.

After dinner tonight I tell Lisa that we need to go and see if we can get that truck running but after driving across town I can tell it isn't anything simple that I can take care of. It sounds alot like plugged fuel injecters or perhaps a bad ignition coil. I can now picture another $300 leaving my bank account. I finally conclude that I'm not going to pay another tow truck any money to hawl my truck around and I call Craig McPhie to see if he will tow me. Craig of course is always up to a challenge and off we go. We get the truck hooked up to a rope behind my Sienna and there we are rushing down Poway road at the breakneck speed of about 5 miles an hour. As I'm sitting there making sure I don't ram into the back of my own car I'm looking at the dash board. I notice that the fuel gauge is very close to empty. With any fuel gauge I've ever seen the tank isn't empty until the needle is below the empty mark but I don't drive the truck very often and I don't really know where "empty" is. When we get to Midland Auto and push the truck into place I ask Craig if he would mind humouring me and letting me put some gas in the truck. What could it hurt, right? We go to Wal-Mart and buy a gas can and then we fill it at a nearby station. I pour the gas into the truck and guess what? It turned over three or four times and then fired right up. Amazing. I don't know if I should laugh or cry.


robert said...

I know what it is like to get cars out of impound. It feels like the biggest waste of money you have ever spent. I also had a gas issuses once with my dads car but when i put gas in the car it would not even turn over at all. Well it came down to the that shifter was half way in park and reaverce and would not start that made me so mad.

Lisa L said...

I can't even comment on this. It's really unbelievable.

Lynn said...

Oh my stars!!!! I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this story either. It's one of those "hard to believe" seriously need to submit it to someone that offers money for stories like that. Maybe you can recoup some of that $1,000.00 just spent. YIKES!!!

So sorry Fred.

Peter and Mandy said...

Oh goodness that's awful(though I admit I laughed a little at the end).

Trevor and Alycia Crowley said...

wow that whole blog sounds like first two weeks of school! haha I feel your pain. love you dad.

Justin, Kira and Evan said...

WOW!!!!!!!!! I don't even know what else to say!

bobbo said...

Mr Leavitt, is the image of a fuel guage shown with this item, a bona fide fuel guage on an actual vehicle? If so, is it a rental vehicle? Note that the information display is from right to left. If you google "fuel guage" on Google Images, you will see that it is a very unusual design. Most fuel guages display either vertically with full at the top and empty at the bottom, or empty on the left running to full on the right. The only other left-to-right full-to-empty guage on the Google Images results page is, actually, one in use on some or all U-Haul trucks. Since people usually process this information vertically downwards or right to left with the indicator clearly receding to the left to indicate fuel depletion, there is a tendency for some percentage of careless or tired renters to overfill their tanks before returning rented vehicles, and not being reimbursed for their expense. This type of fuel guage design is rarely if ever seen on non-rental vehicles. Any information you can provide as to the origin of the graphic you displayed in your blog will be much appreciated.