My Element, AKA the road toaster, started making funny noises and vibrating in tight corners this week. The first day, I decided it was maybe a rock lodged somewhere no rock had any business being. On the second day, I started thinking perhaps a mudflap was rubbing when the wheels were really turned. By the third day, I gave up on perky optimism (and driver’s seat prayer) asked The Electrician what he thought, and then I called my dad.
Based on when the racket and rubbing sound started up, dad guessed my CV joints were done. For those non-car people out there, the “CV” in CV joint is short for the Spanish term Caca Verde: loosely translated, it means, feces green, as in “it’s going to cost me a crap load of money to get these things replaced.” Since both of the joint apparently packed it in the same week, which isn’t impossible but highly unlikely, the fix would be horrendously expensive.
I called my Honda dealership immediately after my morning pee today, and spoke to the woman at the service counter. I told her, “My Element is making funny sounds in tight turns. My dad thinks it’s the CV joint.”
“Like a rubbing sound?” she asked me.
“No, like a low rumble and a vibration –like when the washing machine is on ‘spin.'”
“Like a clicking or ticking?” she suggested. I think it would be more helpful if she actually made the sounds she’s describing. Like the call of a bird, the sound of a broken car is most easily identifiable when a person hears the sound again, not a mere description of the sound.
“No, like brrrrummmmmmmmm. And something feels like it’s binding.”
“Hmmm. We need to get you in for service as soon as we can, I think….So, it’s not a clunking sound.”
By this point, I had given up really being able to describe the sound, “I can’t really describe it,” I explained, “but whatever it is, it sounds expensive.”
By some miracle of the Honda angels, the service manager agreed to see my Element today, even though the mechanics were swamped and people were lined up forever when I arrived. I got in the passenger side when he took it for a test drive, but we had only backed it out of the service drive through lane and made the first seventeen inches of a tight left turn when he declared, “That’s your rear differential!” and immediately drove back into the shop.
Now, I don’t know much about what a rear differential does, but I know the only cheap parts to replace on a newer vehicle are the headlamp bulbs, the wiper blades, and the box of Kleenex in the console. My heart started to pick up speed. I wondered if I should attempt to return the Christmas gift I purchased yesterday and buy something cheaper. I turned to Adrian, the service manager, and gulped like a goldfish that’s flopped itself onto the kitchen floor, again.
“Don’t panic,” he advised, obviously seeing the green creeping into my complexion. “It’s just the fluid. We need to bleed it out, flush it, and then put in fresh fluid.”
“And that will run me?” I held my breath.
“Oh, about two hundred, plus tax, and shop supplies.” I could have hugged the guy, but I restrained myself.
Luckily for me, although it my SUV made an expensive noise, the grand total was only 270 Canadian dollars. Thank you, automobile gods. It hurts, but I can scrape that much together.
The irony, because there’s always irony in my life, was that I finally tried on the fancy red boots I’ve been eyeing at my local shopping mall since June. They’re beautiful and I’ve been tucking away a little bit for them from each pay cheque. I was planning to buy them at the end of the month, all 267 dollars after tax worth, but my rear differential just ate my boot fund and belched with satisfaction.
Oh well. At least I didn’t have to replace two Caca Verde joints.
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