04 January 2006

Clutch City.

It happened over a period of time, but also all at once. For nearly a month, there had been a slight grinding noise whenever I'd hit the clutch pedal, but I assumed it was due to the sudden cold weather. But then the weather warmed up and the noise did not take its leave. I asked my daddy about it and he went into a long lecture on the mechanics of a standard transmission. I humoured him, though I knew about three-quarters of what he was saying to me already. In the end, Daddy concluded that something called a "throw-out bearing" was probably the cause of the problem, but that I probably did not need to worry about it today.

Well...Daddy is allowed to be wrong on occasion too. Even about cars.

The clutch carked it halfway between the West Loop and the West Belt. At a quarter to five this afternoon. Stop and go traffic. I had noticed about the time I hit the West Loop that the motion of the clutch pedal was slightly crunchy feeling when I had to shift back down to fourth once. Shortly thereafter, as I was considering whether or not to get off onto the access road, a loud, obnoxious, whistle/screech began to emanate from beneath the hood.

I had gotten off on the access road by now, and was shifting without hitting the clutch -- at about eighteen hundred rotations per minute, you can shift gears in my car without grinding the gears. I was incredibly thankful for this quirk of mechanics because without it I'd be waiting for a tow truck that I cannot afford. The problem with this, however, is that you cannot shift into first from a dead stop, even if you rev the engine up to eighteen hundred.

Therefore, every time I had to shift into first (which happened about six thousand eight hundred forty-three times), I had to hit the clutch and endure the evil noise.

After about another hour of progressing in this manner, I managed to get to Katy, fifth gear, eighty miles per hour, and got into Austin just fine. I timed the three traffic lights in Bastrop well enough that I didn't have to hit the clutch again, and didn't have a problem until I got to Lamar and Seventy-one, at which point my car chose to stall out. I restarted and managed to only receive the finger twice -- both times from white women in yuppiemobiles.

I got home and made dinner since I had been digesting myself since before La Grange, and considered the problem of paying the rent. The furthest I've ridden on my bike at a time since I've lived here this fall is from my house up to Fifteenth Street, and the management company is on Twenty-fourth. Up a killer hill. I slept on the idea, and then inexplicably awoke at a quarter past one. I figured there was little enough traffic that I could take my car. I did not think the clutch situation could get that much worse.

I was mistaken.

The only way to stop the whistling/screeching while idling was to turn off the engine. I managed to get stuck at the San Gabriel/Twenty-fourth light both coming and going. And on the way back, it was bad enough that if the engine was running at under two thousand rotations per minute, the screech got its continuous screech on.

I've since looked up repair shops. I'm glad I live where I do, right in the middle of everything, because there are thirty mechanics within a mile of my place. I'm worried about driving though, even that much. Aamco will tow; I hope that an independent mechanic will do the same.

Looks like I'm going to be doing well with my exercise resolution. Lots of bike riding in my future.


Blogger Citizen said...

If you haven't ever looked into getting a AAA membership, now is the time to do so. It's not all that expensive, and if you lock yourself out of your car just once in a year, or need to have your car towed just once in a year, you've essentially paid for it. That doesn't include all the discounts, free maps, and free guidebooks you can get... or the peace of mind. I've had mine since I was 16, and it's gotten me out of more jams than I care to think about.

11:35 AM  

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