No, you're not seeing double, or triple... the title of this post is a true reflection of our past few weeks. Two weeks ago we took our van into the shop because the engine had been skipping and to also to get the brakes repaired. After four days in the shop and spending $800, we pickup up our van only to realize the engine was still skipping. We took the van back in for another couple days. The shop reported that the engine was skipping because of a faulty spark plug, which cost us $30. When I picked up the van, I asked the mechanic if the very expensive $760 fix from the previous week had even been necessary. He replied that it wasn't necessary, but would get out vehicle better gas mileage. Needless to say, we were frustrated by the unneeded fix.
The next week, as Greg and I were driving home from a date, the van shut down and completely died, twice. We had to get jumped, twice, to make it home and relieve the babysitter. The next day we got the battery checked, and found out it was fine. A ward member who is a mechanic kindly offered to test our alternator, and he determined that was the problem. Discouraged by our previous experience with our mechanic (having to pay a lot of money because he misdiagnosed our problem), Greg decided to try and fix the van himself this time. He took some time from work, shopped around for the best price on a new alternator ($130) and replaced it himself. Two days later the van started making an extremely loud rattling noise as I was running errands. I parked and called Greg, and he came and discovered that a belt had frayed and was hitting parts of the engine when running. Greg replace the belt the next day after work (another $40). The next morning, all the lights on the dashboard went off while I was driving the van. I quickly drove home and when Greg came home to check the van, it completely died within a minute of starting it. Our neighbor came over and we had the alternator tested again; it wasn't working properly. Greg took it back the the store the next day on his lunch. When he told the clerk the part didn't work, the clerk replied that of course it didn't, because they had given him the wrong alternator for the make and model of our vehicle. They had charged him for the correct part, but handed him one that was smaller (why the belt broke) and not powerful enough. So once again, we were stuck wasting our time and money because of a shop's mistake. And once again, Greg spent the evening installing a new alternator.
We also got both vehicles' safety and emissions tests, and consequently a new set of tires for each vehicle recently. Therefore, in the last two months, we have spent about $1600 on our vehicles, had 8 repairs, 4 breakdowns, and about two week total without a working vehicle for me to drive. I am very much ready to be moving on from our car-breaking-down-phase. One night last week, Greg jokingly told me not to break the car again. I replied if the car broke down again, I was ready to invest in horses as our main form of transportation!