Toyota Musings

The Green Machine has not been much of a machine as of late. A couple of weeks ago I socked with a $1,400 bill to replace a worn out timing-chain necessary to the life of the engine. (for fellow Toyota Pick Up owners googling information about 22re engine know this: you will have to replace this every 100,000 miles. Yes, you should be sad). The job requires a pricey part and includes a couple days of labor, so I thought I would go all out and take it to a dealer where I could get a loaner car for a couple of days.


The 2008 Camry is nice. Rebecca noted my extra sense of confidence in the nice ride.


To bad for her they don’t make the electronic key with an “all doors unlock” button a standard feature. I guess you have to pay another hundred dollars to get that one, so that means Rebecca gets to open her own door (there’s not even a keyhole on the passenger side!).


The return of the Green Machine was glorious in that the engine no longer incessantly rattled at key RPMs (both cruising and accelerating). That along with some new floor mats and spring on the way I could safely say that I new day had dawned.

Except not really.


Dad noticed a quarter size puddle of oil on the driveway when I would drive away after visiting for a couple of hours and told me to check the dip stick. Thank God he noticed, because I was down a quart by the end of last week. I would have never known (since I park on the street) and would have probably ruined the engine by letting it get too low. It never did that before I got it fixed, so I thought I would bring it in. The next available time: 4:00PM Monday 3/31.


I can’t say that traffic was too bad, though it did take 45 minutes to get a place that normally takes 20. I guess you can’t drive 70 miles an hour through 3 inches of slush, something you would think was common knowledge until you see five or six people—all of them driving SUVs—in the ditch.


After checking in I found out that it would be a five hour wait. During my long stay I passed the time by sitting in every car on the show room floor imaging what it would be like to drive a Yaris, Prius, and Tundra. There such a cognitive dissonance between the marketing campaigns of the Tundra and Yaris you have to wonder if it’s the same company. One emphasizes a quasi-green energy conservationist platform, and the other revels in the size of its oversized disk brakes. Then I realized I drive one of the smallest pick up trucks on the market and concluded that I am the best of both Toyota’s worlds. Pretty deep thoughts get thunk when you wait for that long in a place like that.


Unlike the airport, Toyota keeps Fox News on all day while supplying customers with complementary coffee, tea, and Grandma’s cookies. Not bad. Lots of good magazines too. I should subscribe to the Economist. It, unlike Time and Newsweek, actually has words printed in it and avoids the silly graphics that make you feel illiterate after looking at them. Also, Brit Hume is exceedingly boring; though he is better than Sean Hannity… at least you can tune poor Brit out.


I found out that there is a big debate between the proprietors of Wikipedia. The “inclusionists” want the site to be free and open to the public with little to no editorial control. Hooray for 500 profiles on Pokemon characters! The “deletionists” find the such policies “deleterious” (not my pun!) to Wiki’s credibility as a source of knowledge and are lobbying for tighter editorial control. Sorry Pokemon, you only get five characters.


Hey they changed the channel (big deal in a waiting room!) to the Twins game. Excellent.


Alright, back in the saddle. No charge. I’m ready to make the trek home. All the road signs are covered with snow. On days like these I don’t mind traveling 35 miles an hour on the free way. Rush hour has long passed. I am hungry. Think I should stop at the old sports bar and see the Twins finish off the Angels. Good decision.


The game is over. Time to go home. Truck does not start.

$#@&% … %*&@ … *#@*$


The feeling after you get your vehicle fixed should be one of relief, not despair. After talking to Toyota about my new found problem and hearing them claim it was an unrelated to the work they did I figured there had to be some satisfaction on there end in seeing me out of luck on the most snowy evening we’ve had this year. Nonetheless, I have found myself staring into the teeth of Old Man Winter before, and I knew the Green Machine would be up to the task.

I was able to get a jump from a fellow Twins fan and with the help of dad (good idea about the cell phone by the way) diagnosed that it was probably the battery going dead. I guess they poop out on you arbitrarily like that—no warning sign—they just die.


Amazingly, the so-called “Super Target” across the street doesn’t sell car batteries. Seriously, the ghetto K-Mart by my house cells just about every battery you could want. Even blocks to put the car on if your in the auto theft business. Off to Wal-Mart. Oh, and remember to keep the truck running.


Wal-Mart closes at ten. That’s what the door greeter told me. It was 10:05. Usually, I am pretty passive when it comes to submitting to company policies. It’s probably because I don’t like conflict or something like that, but today was different. Mr. Door Guy didn’t stand a chance in the face of my ornery pleas. He directed to me to customer service. The lady said all the money had been taken out of the registers and times had run out. Too bad for her. She tried to convince me that the automotive section was “closed down.” We’ll see about that. I got back there and saw that they didn’t have my battery size, but I figured a car batter is a car battery and pick the one according to the “close enough” method. I get to the register and wrangle with the check out lady who calls upon the manager. At this point I say, “Look, it’s been a long day. I have been stranded and really need this thing. I know you’ve got your policies and stuff, but I think you can help a guy out.”


If you are persistent and ask nicely people will help you. Too bad all you liberal farmer’s market, Whole Foods, co-op shopping Barack Obama voting, corporation hating, graduate schoolin, Prius driving, Public radio listening, wine drinking, marijuana smoking, standing still at concert cranks: Wal Mart’s here to stay. God bless the American Dream! Stop thinking you know what’s best for poor people!


Drive to mom and dad’s house because he’s got the sockets in the metric system. Up the drive way through the snow, a few sparks here and there and presto: we’re back in business. Drive home, almost get into an accident. Park. 11:00PM.


Everyone of you reading this that has heard Mark Darling preach about his life habits, particularly car batteries, know that he is right: replace them every year. Vindication, I hear, is sweet.

12 thoughts on “Toyota Musings

  1. replacing them every year would be horrible for the environment and your wallet-book. When you go in to get your oil changed you can have them check your battery for you. It should be free of charge.

  2. Yeah, try going into a co-op and finding a car battery. You’ll get a bag of kale, and a rant about Ford killing the electric car. At this point, you can explain what a battery is.

    Viva la Walmart revolucion!

  3. I don’t know…that still seems like an overkill. I could see doing it every few years…but every year on something that should last longer than a year(99% of the time)?

  4. I still maintain that just having it checked when you get your oil changed is the smart thing. It should be free and they can tell right when it starts to go bad.

  5. For the cars that I’ve had, all you have to do to unlock the passenger side door/the rest of the doors is press the unlock button twice. One press unlocks the driver’s door, twice unlocks all the doors.

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