Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saturday, May 12, 2007

15 M.P.H

Yesterday, I left work early at about 3:30, excited for a relaxing weekend. I had driven our little, ever-reliable red Saturn to work Friday, and Chris took the Saab since he needed to provide transportation for a couple co-workers.

About three miles from work and just on the outskirts of Marlborough, I accelerated from a full stop at a red light and tried to shift into second gear (manual transmission car). The shifter went slack somewhere between first, second and neutral. I pumped the clutch and tugged at the shifter but with no improvement. I coasted into a nearby industrial parking lot to stop and re-start the car - the clutch seemed permanently stuck in first gear. I couldn't even reverse. Knowing little about cars, I immediately assumed the worst: the whole clutch had given out. I called Chris who works north of Boston, over an hour away from me, and he immediately left work. Meanwhile, a couple guys in the parking lot offered to help and jacked up the car. One of them knew quite a bit of cars and diagnosed the problem: torn shifter cable.

I walked to a Mazda dealership, but they didn't have the part and neither did a local mechanic. Chris was stuck in heavy traffic on the freeway, so I decided to drive as far as I could in first gear. I clicked on the hazard lights and took backroads home, driving on the shoulder whenever possible. My 45 minute commute ended up taking about two-and-a-half hours since I couldn't go above 15 mph. In the beginning, I drove white-knuckled but after twenty minutes or so, I popped in a CD, turned on the air-conditioning and ignored the honks behind me. Chris met me part-way, and we switched cars so he could enjoy the relaxing first-gear ride.

The car's at a local shop right now - we picked up the part at a Saturn dealership nearby. All in all, it could have been a lot worse: a torn shifter cable is a lot less expensive than a new clutch!


Blogger The Charlebois said...

Cars are such a pain. :)
Glad it wasn't something worse...and that you were safe.

11:26 AM  

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