Thursday, October 22, 2009

A milestone I'd rather not achieve

Within the next couple weeks I'll be forced to achieve a milestone that most people hit well over a decade earlier. Call me a late bloomer if you want but this milestone has me more pissed off than anything.

This past summer we bought a 2007 Toyota Rav4. It was decided just after the birth of The Toddler that my old lady's Toyota Solara, a two-door luxury wanna-be sports car, wouldn't work much longer as we spent time crawling in and out of the back seat to retrieve an increasingly heavy car seat.

My old lady's back sucks without being hunched over and retrieving a wiggling infant so we began our search for an official grown-up vehicle. We decided that my fifteen year-old Pontiac Grand Prix could be sold and we'd be back to two vehicles and all would work out.

The vehicle search began over a year ago. We test drove a Dodge something 4-door. That car sucked. Sorry Dodge but you need to do better but I'll never know about the Dodge Caliber because the douchebag at a certain now-closed Denny Hecker dealership wouldn't even let us testdrive it. We tried out a couple of Volkswagen Jettas. They were small, nimble and fast as hell but we were really looking for something around the same size as the Solara. After a doctor's appointment at the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN we test drove a Scion Xb, a Scion Xd, a Toyota Camry and a Toyota Corolla. At this point I was liking the pleasantly ugly Scion Xb.

Then this summer, after hitting the magical number in savings for a down payment, we test drove more vehicles. The next Friday, after scouring the internet for just the right vehicle, we hit the road to Mankato and 90 minutes later we were driving that 2007 Toyota Rav4.

A few months later it was time to change the oil. I located the appropriate oil filter - a crazy paper cartridge type - and bought a couple large jugs of oil. A couple nights later I got my gear together and crawled under the Rav4. I muddled and grumbled and cursed. This things was a damn nightmare. Something I had never seen in my fifteen years of changing oil in my vehicles. And the "can" housing the paper cartridge oil filter was so over-tightened that no amount of torque would budge it. I even called my brother-in-law mechanic who had no ideas or tools to aide me. I finally gave up, frustrated, and just drained the existing oil and replaced it with new. Then the cycle began again last weekend. The second oil change and I was prepared. I had what was promised to be a "damn good filter wrench" from NAPA and this time I would win the battle.

Then it happened. I was under the Rav4 again and the "damn good filter wrench" was constantly slipping. I needed something with more gripping power so off to another auto parts store where I found a kick-ass gripping jaws model that I KNEW would put me in the winner's circle.

Thirty minutes later the NAPA wrench was broken in half and my hand was nearly raw from torquing on the jaw-style wrench with my ratchet. Again I resorted to replacing only the oil and was left with a rather angry wife - angry about how much time I had spent to "accomplish nothing" and the amount of money I spent doing something "that I knew I could never do". Way to be supportive.

So in the next couple weeks I need to find an oil change place that won't cost a damn fortune. I've never had to pay someone to change my oil because it was ingrained in me growing up that you'd be foolish to ever pay for something so simple. Apparently my dad had never met this oil filter.

Today I sit as a defeated man in search of a lube and filter shop that will be able to remove the impossible oil filter can and make it possible for me to finally be able to change my own oil in the old lady's crossover. Yes, these are the battles I stupidly face every day.

One battle I enjoy is finding stunning photos to showcase at MinnPics. Check out what treasures of Minnesota await you today!


Erin said...

You working with cars is like me working with food. Expensive, time-consuming, painful and futile.

Reuben said...

You're right that it seems to be getting harder to change the oil in newer cars, & I also struggled with the idea that I should be changing my own oil because it's so damned easy... Whatever. Frankly, by the time I drive to the auto parts store, buy a filter & some oil, change the oil, and then figure out how to safely and responsibly dispose of the used oil... it's well worth the $30 I pay to have someone else do it. WELL WORTH IT. Good luck.

Sarah said...

Bummer. That sucks! Maybe umpteenth time's a charm?

Someday I will change my oil again. I don't have the facilities to do it at my current home, but hope to at "my" house someday in the future. If you are willing to drive to Anoka, I really like the shop I have been bringing my car to for the past year. Their changes are reasonably priced too, and I run full synthetic so I can tell a thing or two about cost. :)