Monday, June 9, 2008

Hot mess

As most people living in the northeast of the US are already aware, we're in the midst of a hot spell. I'm not sure how many days it takes of consecutive hot days to officially constitute a heat wave, but we've been above normal - way above normal - since late last week. Looking at the 10 day forecast on the Weather Channel's site, it doesn't look like we'll be back to more seasonably warm-but-not-roasting temperatures 'til early next week. That means several more days of "oh my goodness, have we moved to the face of the Sun?" type heat to get through.

And, yes it is a cliché, but it is true: it's not the heat, it's the humidity. I don't mind heat, so long as it's a dry heat. I've happily hung out outdoors in Vegas when it was over 110 in the shade. I'm talking Vegas in July and August, with nary a complaint. The humidity, though, that's the thing that I abhor - when you walk outside and the air touching your skin has the feeling of a large dog's tongue licking you, if that large dog had just run a marathon then drunk warm chocolate syrup. That is what makes air conditioning so delightful, no?

Unfortunately, this week's heat coincides with the AC in our minivan failing. This in and of itself is a bad thing, but it is compounded by the fact that this isn't the first time the AC has gone kaput. It isn't even the second time. No, this is the fourth time within a 13 month period that it's died on us. The first time was last May, when it was warm but not crazy hot. We took it in, had it repaired, paid the bill and thought that was that. When it conked out a little over a month later, we were in the midst of a six-hours-each-way road trip for a family wedding. It was significantly hotter that weekend and driving home especially was most unpleasant. We called the dealership from the road and made arrangements to have it re-fixed. We were a bit less thrilled with the bill the second time around, but we really thought that was that. Which it was, until May rolled around this year and it died for a third time. This time, Hubby called the dealership with a good deal of righteous indignation. We certainly didn't feel like forking over several hundred dollars for something they'd supposedly fixed twice already. Well, whaddya know - this time, the problem was in an entirely different part of the AC system, and a more expensive, extensive repair-required part to boot. Crapola. Several hours and over a grand later, the van was cool once again, until this past weekend, when the AC once more gave up the ghost.

Now, we have a Toyota. We love Toyotas. We've driven nothing but Toyotas since we bought a Tercel back when we were newlyweds. That Tercel lasted through 14 years of bad upstate NY and northern New England winters, driving from NY to Florida and back, driving between NY and NH through the mountains and mud season for over a year - it was a great car. We had the most minimal maintenance/repair expenses over its hard-driven 14 years and it was just ridiculously reliable. Our Tercel had close to 200,000 miles on it when we traded it in for a new Camry last summer. We also had a Corolla for a few years on a lease, that we turned in for the Sienna back in 2000. We've been hoping that the Sienna will last us another couple of years, which doesn't seem too far-fetched, and we certainly don't want a second car payment added into the budget. I don't think we've had two simultaneous car payments in ten years, back when gas was less than a buck a gallon. But then again, we're not keen on dropping a thousand dollars every other month to get the AC working again either.

So, we are taking the van in on Wednesday to find out what's broken this time and how much it's going to cost us. With our luck, it will be a new problem so not something they'll graciously fix for free. The forecasted high for tomorrow is 85, with thunderstorms. That'll be one toasty drive to preschool. At least today, we could drive with the windows open. (Which, by the by, doesn't do the Wolverine Fawcett-Van Beethoven 'do any favors. "Windswept" isn't exactly the adjective one wants to add to "ginormous, Jersey hair" you know. It literally becomes one hot mess of hair. I could hairspray the heck out of my hair - I'm talking Sally Field in Steel Magnolias levels of helmet-head - and the wind pattern through the van with both windows rolled down would still kill it. Egad.) That would be one advantage if it does wind up being more cost-effective to replace the Sienna instead of repairing the AC again - the new models have back windows that roll down. That might come in handy some day...

So, hopefully the current AC issue is easily, quickly, cheaply and permanently resolved. If not, hopefully there are some really excellent deals to be had both on trading in an 8 year old Sienna with a bum AC system and buying a new Sienna with functioning AC...

1 comment:

ourboysourlives said...

AC LEMON...I hate when one part of an automobile causes years of headaches...so sorry....