As our trusty minivan has exceeded the 100,000 mile mark, we have been having intermittent trouble with various mechanisms. For one, the manual sliding door will get inexplicably jammed shut, and the kids will all have to enter through the automatic door on the other side. Invariably, after a few days, as mysteriously as it gets jammed, it will come unjammed.
I know we could take it to the dealer and have it fixed, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet. The inconvenience of the problem has not yet outweighed the inconvenience of taking it to the dealer and sitting in the waiting room all morning with three children. Can I hear an amen?
Then one day last week, after an exhausting afternoon at the pool, we all piled into my ancient minivan to ride home. My son went to close the automatic sliding door, but nothing happened. He tugged harder and managed to close it, but without the help of the automatic feature.
Quizzically, I pushed the button on my console that operates the door, but nothing happened. I tried the button on my keyfob, and nothing. Perplexed, I pushed the button that activates and deactivates the automatic feature, thinking that perhaps one of the children "accidentally" bumped it. I tried the buttons to open the door again, and nothing.
Oh, well. I decided to deal with it later. It was hot inside the car without the air conditioning. I started up the car and was greeted by the loud buzzing noise that means the automatic door is not closed.
I got out, walked around, opened and closed the door soundly, making sure it was latched, and then went back to the driver’s seat where I started the ignition again.
Omigosh! I turned off the car AGAIN. I tried opening and shutting the door AGAIN. It was definitely shut. But for some reason, the car didn’t know that. Oh the joys of modern technology.
I dug out the manual from the glove compartment, and in the sweltering heat of the car I found the section on the automatic door. It sounded as if I needed to reset the system. The book gave detailed instructions, but it involved disconnecting the battery and other manly sounding tasks. I made the executive decision to drive the car home with the annoying BUZZZZZZZ and let my handy hub handle the resetting of the door.
So for 20 minutes, we drove to accompaniment of a very loud buzzing noise. Once home, sure enough, my handy hub was able to reset the feature, and it’s working fine now.
As if all that’s not enough, the starter isn’t being very reliable. About once every month or so, when I go to turn on the car, it will stall out on me before I get a chance to put it into reverse. I will shut off the A/C, turn the car off, wait a few seconds, and try it again, and it will stall again.
I have learned how to start the ignition while in Neutral and gently give it some gas and then sling it into Reverse and back out of the driveway. Invariably it stalls again, but by that time, I am usually in the street, and I go through the whole rigmarole again — put it in Neutral, apply light pressure on the gas, slam it into Drive, and then take off like a bat out of you-know-where, hoping that it will take. I usually have to go through that cycle a few times until I can get it going for keeps.
Of course, this is a bit disconcerting to the three children in the backseat who aren’t sure exactly what is going on except that mommy is getting all hot and bothered and the car isn’t starting.
We think it has something to do with trying to start the car while running the A/C because it doesn’t happen much, if at all, in the wintertime. I’m hoping it’s a simple fix, but once again, I would have to take it to the dealer to find out what’s wrong and what’s involved in fixing it. Call me crazy, but that just doesn’t sound like a good time.
Finally, Hub has made an appointment to take the car in this morning for a tune-up because we plan to drive it to Maine this weekend. Here’s hoping that whatever is causing these intermittent problems can be fixed with little time and expense. As much as I would love to have a brand-spanking-new, late-model, RELIABLE car to drive around in, I keep telling myself, It’s Paid For.