It has been an expensive past few weeks for the Grocery Grabber.
I finally took new pictures of the clean-ish Lexus!
It all started off with a trip to the Chicago Auto Show two weeks ago. My dad and I were heading down for the day and we're about five minutes into the trip. We're cruising along doing 60 mph when a Nissan Rogue decides to pull out in front of us, slowing us to 40 mph. Slightly annoying, but no big deal, right? Nope.
As my dad goes to accelerate the entire car starts shaking. It was shaking so badly, I honestly thought we were going over bumps, but the voice in the back of my head was suggesting otherwise. After three attempts at accelerating, I realize that something is really not right with the Grocery Grabber and the check engine light pops on and starts flashing at us. This is not good.
We decide to turn around and limp the car straight to our mechanic. My dad dropped me off at our house so I could take the trusty Rav-inator (a 2006 Rav4 with the superb 4 speed auto, 4 cylinder combination) and pick him up from the mechanic. We still made it to Chicago, but in a different car and 30 minutes later than we expected.
There's the beast.
The source of the problem was the ignition coil in the sixth cylinder. It decided that it didn't want to function anymore and wanted to run on five cylinders instead. That coil and a new spark plug cost about $290. This wasn't as bad as I was expecting, but there are also five more ignition coils in the engine that could decide they want to die at any second too. However, after two days of work, the Lexus was back on the road.
Fast forward to a week after that escapade and I bring the Grocery Grabber into my autos class. I was going to inspect the cooling system since that was what we were learning about, but I got side tracked. As it turns out, there was years of corrosion on the battery and its cables. My teacher said that he had never seen corrosion that bad before. Weirdly, the car started fine when it was cold. It just moaned a bit.
So I clean it using the typical brush, water and baking soda. Well, the Lexus did not like that. It wouldn't start anymore unless we jump started it. I ended up having my autos teacher jump my car after school and I drove it straight to our mechanic, who loves us at this point.
The corrosion wasn't quite as bad as it is on this battery, but it was close.
The drive there was a bit interesting. I think the car went into "Holy shit, I'm not getting enough electricity from the battery" mode because it wouldn't creep forward when I took my foot off of the brake. I also stopped at a stop sign and the radio turned off by itself. By the time I got to the mechanic's shop, the car was idling at 600 rpms. Thank God it's less than a mile away from my school.
We replace the battery, which was five years old, and everything is good until this Friday. That's when the Lexus gets an oil change and we pick it up from our mechanic. After the five minute drive home, I go to pull into the garage and the car isn't creeping forward with my foot off of the brake anymore. I figured I was just paranoid so I didn't mention it. My dad and I were going to run errands in it anyway, so I was going to see if my dad noticed anything. Surprise surprise, it's idling at 600 rpms. We take it straight back to the mechanic and as I'm waiting to pull the car in the garage, it's idling at 300 rpms. I actually had to rev it to get it to sit at 900 rpms.
The mechanic didn't really know what was wrong with it, but he guessed that the computer had to relearn its idle speed. I honestly didn't believe it, even though our mechanic has helped us a lot throughout the years, because this was 5 days after the battery was replaced. I drove it twice a day (although it was only for about 10 minutes each way) since then and it was idling fine, but we followed his directions anyway. We go to leave and the second my dad puts the Lexus in reverse it dies. He's able to restart it and we're reluctantly on our way.
We decide to drive it around for a while to see if it will relearn how to idle while I scrounge through Lexus forums trying to look for possible causes. Basically the second I decide that we need to clean the throttle body, the Grocery Grabber chooses to idle normally again. We drove it around for another 30 minutes and it was fine. Like usual, our mechanic knows what he's talking about.
I think I jinxed the Lexus' reliability with my article saying it's the perfect first car. After I said we haven't had many problems with it, we discovered the power steering was leaking and then all of these incidents happened. Currently, the Grocery Grabber is at home, safe in the garage. Hopefully it decides it wants to work properly for a while.