One of the ways I relax

Took a long drive yesterday This was my first time on hwy 2 since it reopened.

The road was partially closed for 4 or 5 years. At it’s highest point it’s about 7000 ft. One very bad winter, the snow, ice, and rockslides caused a large section to slide down the mountainside. CalTrans opened as much as they could in the Summer but it wasn’t open to La Canada.

I used to take it home sometimes from work. It’s not as fast as the Freeway (well come to think of it, in rush hour traffic… it might be faster!) but the scenery is beautiful and if you’re someone that likes to drive, it’s a great road to forget about the work day on.

I took a few pictures but it really was the wrong time of day to get nice shots. I couldn’t resist a picture of the road, it’s new and smooth.
This is the kind of road my car was built for.

Drove all the way to La Canada from Wrightwood, it was a great drive! I had the top down, the road to myself and it was sunny & beautiful.

Coming back from La Canada right at the base of hwy 2,  I watched a young deer saunter across the road.

He was at least a 4 point buck, once he crossed the road he paralleled it for a bit. I drove by slowly, keeping an eye on him.

My concern was that he might panic and dart back into the road ahead of me then both of us would have a bad day.

I don’t think California lets you keep what you kill… the image of a deer strapped across the front of my car is amusing. The further thought of the cost to repair the inevitable body damage is not!

As I got even with him, he started to panic a little… when I realized he was trying to get ahead of me, I accelerated away. He disappeared into the trees a second or two after I passed him.

I wish I’d been able to grab the camera and snap a few pictures of him, he really was beautiful. But paying attention to the road took priority.

Seeing that deer made my day. Between him, the drive, and the sun on my skin I returned home very contented.

Gotta do stuff like that more often.

This is something you never want to see at your dealership…

But I Understand.

These guys are from the Teamsters Local 495. These men work at the local BMW parts warehouse in Ontario.

The fact that the parts warehouse is 10 miles from the dealership is one of the reasons that I didn’t believe the service people when They said the problem with my A/C was a schrader valve.

I could have driven to the warehouse and picked up the necessary part myself.

Apparently BMW North America has decided to turn all these folks into unemployed folks. I’m not too sure of all the facts but it seems that BMW N.A. is outsourcing these jobs in the name of higher profits.

The website for these folks is located HERE. If you’re curious go take a look. One of the things that I

did learn is that Since these people are protesting every Saturday they’re in an interesting position to observe BMW reliability.

On of the guys mentioned that they see a lot of 7 series BMWs coming in on flatbeds. I’ve heard of problems with the 7 Series and personally know one person that sold her 7 at a loss to buy a Hyundai.

Her 7 had failed many more times than she could count, leaving her stranded at the side of the road.

She said it was usually on a freeway near any Airport… she’d be buzzing along at 70 or 80 then it was like someone clicked the off switch. The car would simply die and couldn’t be restarted. She got tired of seeing the dealerships, and even more tired of tow truck drivers.

She’s been much happier with her Hyundai. It works and in the 3 years she’s owned it she’s done nothing but have the oil changed.

I’ve noticed when I take my car in every other Monday that there’s always a lot of 335s, 535s, & 135s in the service drive.

The protesters were noticing the same sorts of things and they weren’t surprised when I suggested that BMW was hiding something.  They felt that BMW wasn’t being as forthright about the motivations for outsourcing the parts business as they should have been either.

They did say that BMW North America and BMW Germany didn’t behave the same towards their workers. Perhaps it’s a Situation of American greed vs German labor laws. I’m not in a position to comment.

They did get a kick out of my describing my car as a “Pussy” car. (Every time I want to ride it… it’s got a headache.)

They wished me good luck and I wished them the same.

I’m blown away that companies are doing this kind of thing but many of the corporate honchos need to keep getting their bonus checks so they can keep their mistresses in fancy condos and quiet.

Well I pick up the car today

Dropped it off on Monday

Picking it up today… 5 days for a schrader valve??? I’m sure there is a much larger story there.

We’ll see just how long the thing holds together this time.

Hopefully, I can actually take a bit of a trip NOW.

On the Plus side…

EDD has apparently approved my unemployment. Although the only thing they sent me was the claim form to fill out. Yep, nothing else, no instructions, no info packet… nothing!

Not complaining though… This is the form that’s most important I fill this puppy out every 2 weeks and they sent me a check.

So I’m furloughed and my future is uncertain but I’ve got unemployment for 6 months.

There’s a guy that wants to talk with me about a job, out of state on Monday. I’m listening and I’ve been doing some internet research on the area… Small town, looks nice I’ve just done a quick skim but It might work. Especially if we’re talking something permanent.

Time will tell…

Yet more of the Car Saga…

I dropped the car off at the dealership on Monday.

The guy tried to suggest that perhaps the problem was in the computerized vent controls, or that something else had gone wrong… anything but their A/C service having screwed up the system. (Mind you the A/C was working when I dropped it off BEFORE they serviced it. The A/C just hadn’t been serviced in 3 years and wasn’t blowing as cold as it should have been.)

I was pretty pissed off at being left in Palm Springs with no A/C and temps hovering around 111F.

I described the car as my “Pussy” car. The service writer looked at me quizzically and I explained that every time I wanted to take the car out for a spin… It had a headache. I also described the car as a busted motherfucking waste of money. Needless to say they handed me the keys to a rental and hustled me out of the lobby with great alacrity.

I heard nothing on Monday, and still nothing on Tuesday.

This morning I get an email saying the problem is the Schrader valve on the high pressure side of the system. They don’t have any in stock but will have one tomorrow.

What they’re expecting me to believe is this;

In their initial service 2 weeks ago,
The system was vacuum tested for more than an hour.
Then the system was purged.
Dye was added and then the system was recharged.
It supposedly tested fine in their shop.

A week or two go by with me literally driving the car twice and I have an A/C failure.

Hummmmm I think something else is going on.

The valve in question for those who may not know, looks like the valve that you use when you put air in your tires. It’s a common part, and they are prone to fail depending on a number of factors and they are also pretty dang easy to replace.

It’s taken them 2 days to figure out a Schrader valve has a problem? Especially that one? No… something else is going on.

Either their initial service was so flawed, it screwed up a lot more than just a valve OR the guys working on the car now are completely incompetent.

Going into Mr Science Mode for a moment

This is a simplistic explanation…
A/C works by compressing a gas into a liquid, then feeding that liquid through what looks like a small radiator in the cabin of the vehicle. As the liquid moves through the radiator, the cabin air is circulated through the radiator which warms the liquid enough that it changes back into a gas. (There’s a bunch of physics that explains what happens next) As the liquid undergoes the change from liquid to gas it cools the radiator and the air circulating through the radiator gets cold too. (Think about how aerosol spray cans get cold when you use them, it’s the same principal.) Then the gas is pumped to a larger radiator (heat exchanger) in the front of the engine where the outside air flowing through the engine compartment cools it down before its fed back to the compressor where the process repeats. This basic description also covers your home A/C unit

The side of the compressor referred to as the High Pressure side is where the liquid freon is sent to the passenger compartment. The low pressure side in the side where the gas comes into the compressor.

If you have a leak on the “High” side, it’s pretty obvious and if there’s a dye agent in the freon then it’s unbelievably obvious since at the site of the leak you’ll have everything around coated with dye.

So why then has it taken these guys 2 days to figure out what the problem was?

I did home and commercial heating and air conditioning when I was younger. THE FIRST place you look at it the maintenance valves. The rest of the system is sealed, so unless you know some physical problem occurred you ALWAYS start at the mechanical stuff.

It works like this.

If the compressor kicks over, then you’ve probably lost some if not all of your coolant. If there is still some freon in the system, you recharge. If it works, while connected to your coolant source and you see nominal operating pressures on the high and low side of the system, it’s probably a bad Schrader valve. You can prove that when you disconnect your test gear because you can hear it or see it leaking.

If in fact it’s a bad Schrader, depressurize the system, replace BOTH valves (if one failed the other is likely to), vacuum purge the system, put new coolant (usually freon) in, cap it off, and test.  While you’re letting the system run you walk the lines to make sure there’s nothing else that needs attention. If you see a problem you let the owner know and what it’s likely to cost.

If there’s no other issue, you hand the customer the bill and schedule a preventative maintenance next year.

I used to do up to 8 of these services a day on homes in Florida. This is not magic, it’s just logic and good customer service.

The point is, I don’t believe for a minute that it took 2 days to find a bad Schrader valve. It’s a normal maintenance port and usually is sitting either right next to the compressor with the low pressure valve or they’re both mounted next to the heat exchanger in the front of the engine compartment.

Regardless of where it was, one glance from even an incompetent moron of an A/C mechanic and the problem should have been blindingly obvious. This is especially true since they’d already put the dye in the system when they initially serviced it.

Which means… I’ve been lied to. What little trust I had is gone & I’m looking for a new dealer to service my car until the end of it’s warranty.

After that… I’m going to find myself a good independent who knows how to work on cars without relying totally on computers and sensors.

I want a mechanic that knows and loves cars.

Someone named Deiter, Hans, Heinrick, or Klaus

Yet Another Reason I HATE California

I got a registration notice yesterday.

This is typical of the way that California FUCKS it’s citizens.

The notice arrives yesterday, It’s dated as Due in 3 days…

SO the BASTARDS start clocking LATE fees BEFORE you have a chance to get the damn payment to them. Yeah there are other ways to pay ’em. You can use the internet or you can use AAA. But suppose you need to have a smog check?

I guess you’re supposed to fuck over whatever schedule you had, whether that is going to work, or taking a trip, or suppose you’re out of town for a week?

Depending on the amount of your WAY overpriced registration, the late fees can really add up.

For the period 10 days after the due date you incur an approximately 23.5% increase.
For the next 20 day period the increase is about 36%. For the period beyond it’s a 74% increase.

Last year I paid more for my registration than my normal car payment.

I wouldn’t have minded except that the California roads are falling apart. 
Potholes have cost me 4 wheels in the past 2 years if your rims cost 800.00 a piece you really don’t appreciate the shitty freeways, or crumbling surface streets.

You know MY MORTGAGE, and my Credit Cards give me 30 days. At least they provide me with some kind of services.

California is acting like a sleazy loan shark. I don’t like it, I think it’s wrong and I wonder if there’s any place better than this fucked up, third world shit hole.

Time to go….

Why is it that Nobody does their job right anymore?

Took the car out to Palm Springs today.

It was 111º out there.

When I got ready to go, guess what? The A/C in the car FAILED.

Last service I paid the dealership to do a routine maintenance on the A/C since it didn’t seem like the system was blowing as cold as it used to. Makes sense, the unit hadn’t been serviced ever i figured a little freon or whatever they use now and we’d be good to go.

The service cost me $350.00. So what I found out today is that I PAID $350.00 to initiate the failure of my A/C!

It’s a damn good thing I couldn’t get to the dealer today… I’d have had several choice words!

However, it’s probably better that I’ve got a couple of days to cool down (so to speak). Better to be professional than walk in like a nuclear bomb.

I’m just annoyed that every other week I’m driving to the dealership instead of driving my car to places that I’d like to go.

On the plus side… perhaps if enough is replaced now… by the time I’m completely out of warranty I might just have a reliable vehicle.

Funny, I’m not usually such an optimist.