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Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Squeaky Wheel

There is an old metaphor that states "It is The Squeaky Wheel that gets the grease."  It means that the most noticeable or loudest problems are the ones likely to get attention.   You'll see it at a restaurant or a place of business.  If a customer complains about something enough, the merchant is more likely to appease them in order to keep their attitude from influencing other customers.  While, I'm usually all about metaphors and literary techniques when it comes to writing, this is merely a literal post.  I have a squeaky wheel on my car and it's driving me nuts.  So, instead of this being a pithy little post about my Pontiac, it is a plea for help.


To give you a little background on what's going on the car is a 1999 Pontiac Sunfire.  It has just south of 70,000 miles on it.  The transmission was replaced in 2002.  In 2003, some punks looking for loose change used a pry bar and opened the window enough to unlock the door, breaking the appliqué off the side.  Since then, heavy rains tend to allow water into the passenger side.  In 2007 I had some power steering and exhaust problems so a mechanic friend of mine did some work on it.  Now, after he fixed all that I noticed a distinct squeaking in the front wheel whenever I turned the car to the right.  When the car went for inspection at the end of the year, I needed to replace the rotors and brakes.  The guy at the garage said that something wasn't fully releasing and that's why the brakes were so bad.  Did he actually fix the issue?  No.  Lastly, in the summer of 2008, I had the alternator replaced.  After that got fixed, I had no air conditioning.  By now, you've probably stopped reading and started thinking, "Just buy a new car." 


Let's hold off on that thought for a second as I explain my theory of why I think it is in the brakes. It still squeaks repeatedly as if something is catching on each revolution of the wheel.  I took it to another mechanic who said there was a piece of plastic in the wheel well that was bent.  He said that it was catching and that was causing the squeak.  He filed it down, but when I picked up the car, it still squeaked.   Since then it has progressively gotten worse.  The car squeaks when I turn right.  The car squeaks when I turn left.  The car squeaks when I go straight.  In fact, the car squeaks when it's sitting in park and turned off as I get in or out of it, on occasion.  The only time that car doesn't squeak is when I am stopped at a red light or if I apply the brakes.  That is what makes me think that something on the braking system is catching.  A piece of plastic may squeak at high speeds but accelerating from a stopped position would make a different sound.   To top it all off, it also smells like something is burning when I get out of the car. 


I had the same mechanic who cut the plastic off look at it and he pulled the brakes and rotors and noticed nothing out of the ordinary.  He also tried to put freon into the car and it wouldn't take it.  It's probably the compressor which by now is not worth repairing with the current value of the car.  Other than that, it still squeaks.  Now it's closing on the last half of 2008 and I have a car with no AC, a wet passenger side if it rains, a bit of rust on the right quarter panel and it squeaks like hell.  People stop and stare at me as I go by.  Other than just getting a new car, which I don't exactly have the money to do, I would like to get the squeak out so that when I do try to get some cash for it, they don't hear me coming a mile away.


That's where you come in, faithful 2.5 readers.  I need you to offer any suggestions as to what is wrong with my car.  Now, don't be funny and say it's a dipstick problem or a something wrong between the seat and the steering wheel.   I need real help here or I will go nuts.  Ask your friends.  Ask you neighbors.  Ask your clergy for a prayer. In any event, if I squeak long and loud enough, maybe that wheel will get greased....and my car will get fixed as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My first thought was the power steering system - probably a loose belt. Maybe low power steering fluid. Are you loosing fluid?

My other thought was one of your struts is going. A mechanic with a lift could probably eliminate this possibility by seeing if the squeaking goes away when the car is up on a lift (no compression on the strut). You would hear it coming from a distinct side if this is the case, where your power steering would likely not sound side specific.

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