Thursday, November 12, 2015

car emissions and frustrations

Happy Thursday!  It's a beautiful day in Denver.  Stunning.  I arrived in October, flew to Phoenix to finish teacher training, returned to Denver to settle my driver's license, car issues, etc.  The car overtook my life and livelihood.  Of course, I recognized that I was neglecting other areas of my life.  Fixing my laptop, finding a place to live, job in order to become a legal resident of Colorado again. 
In my mind, it was easy.  Take proof of address to dmv office that deals directly with driver's licenses.  Check.  Easy.  Drive car to emissions.  Pass test and proceed to tag office to retain the license plate.  I had it all planned out.  I had two weeks before my license plates expired which gave me plenty of time to deal with the car stuff.  I booked a trip to Chicago to celebrate my decision to return to Denver and thank Maghan for letting me store my stuff at his place.  Completely impulsive trip and again, worked into my time line.  I could pass the emissions test with a few days to spare if there was an issue. 
Let's just say I was naïve.  I should have dealt with the car the minute I returned to Denver instead of gallivanting in Phoenix and Chicago.  I went to the nearest emissions testing station and felt confident.  I had warmed my car up (as told by my Santa Fe mechanic) and gotten to the station early.  I waited in the designated area and paid when called to leave the station.  The guy let me pay and then told me I had failed the test.  He handed me some pamphlet with suggested mechanics and sent me on my way.
I had a plan.  I would call my Denver mechanics and arrange a service.  They were familiar with my car since they had worked on Veronica for six years.  I even had their number in my phone still.  I called them and connected with a no longer functioning phone.  Crap! 
At this point, I tried to calm down.  There was a solution and I could find it.  I would not have to seek out one of the mechanics on the pamphlet and be scammed.  I called my guy in Santa Fe and explained that I could use a recommendation from him of a mechanic here if he knew of some one.  He responded quickly with a name of a Volvo mechanic in Denver.  I called this place on Tuesday to arrange a looksee the following Monday. I was positive it would be a quick fix and so I focused on my trip to Chicago. 
Chicago was awesome.  Foodie friendly and fantastic.  And, I had managed to get a job prior to the trip that I would return home to.  Everything was looking up.  I drove to the mechanics the following Monday morning.  Introduced myself and told them I would wait.  My plan was to have them do some magic on my car and then I would drive to the nearest station, pass emissions and head directly to purchase license plates.  I was armed with my phone, head phones and a book.  Figured it would take an hour, maybe two.
I sat there with little interaction and waited.  I tried to occupy my time by reading.  I texted my friend, Jenn, that I would be needing to push our lunch date back.  It was not going as planned.  I sat at the mechanics for three plus hours before they offered me a loaner car.  I took the car and headed back to my place.  A few hours later, they contacted me that my car was done.  They suggested going directly to emissions and having my test performed.  I drove to the nearest station and watched the guys test my car.  I felt good and still had time to get my license plate. 
I paid the guy and he sold me my Vin verification that I knew I needed for the license plate.  Then he told me that I failed the emissions test.  I was furious.  Why sell me Vin verification knowing that I would not be able to get a license plate without passing the emissions test?
I asked the guy.  What do I do now as I just spent $300 on my car to prepare it for the emissions test?  Smugly, he suggested that I return to the mechanics and have them fix it more.  He made some comment that I would spend up to $800 before the state would waive the emissions test.  Jerk.
I drove back to the mechanics and expressed my frustration with the emissions system.  They agreed to look at my car the following morning and told me that they were at a loss.  It should have passed. They also told me that a loaner car would not be available as they were all spoken for. 
The following day I drove to their shop, hired an uber and waited to hear back from them.  I opted to go to a yoga class to distract myself and the car problems.  From yoga, I walked downtown to have lunch and wait to hear about my car.  I picked my car up and returned to the original testing center.  My mechanics told me to not turn the car off until I was told to.  I was determined to get the emissions test passed and move on with my life. 
The car failed and I almost cried.  I had no idea what to do. I asked the technician what I could do at this point.  My mechanics had had my car for almost 11 hours at this point and found nothing that would suggest not passing this test.  The guy handed me a pamphlet and suggested I call the state to see what they recommended.  I set up an appointment with a diagnostic for the following morning.  I called the mechanics to inform them that the car had failed again.  They were incredulous.  Told me to let them know what the technician said.  They felt confident that he would pass the car as it should have passed.
I drove to Lakewood to have my car assessed.  Arrived promptly at 8:00 am and waited in their office while they tested my car.  The man approached me with--it mostly passed.  How long do you intend to have this car? 
Then he proceeded to tell me he would not be passing the car. That I needed a catalytic converter in his opinion and that if I bought that, the car would pass.  I told him that the mechanics had looked at the converter the minute I brought the car in and they ruled that out.  He felt that they should reconsider and I told him that it was an expensive part that I wasn't interested in buying.  I was irritated by the process and frustrated that there was such little sympathy for my situation.  This technician told me that I could choose to direct my anger at him but I should remember that he had just conducted a free testing of my car.  He walked away from me after saying this.  I wanted to punch him in the throat.
I called my mechanics and we both spoke of how frustrating this had become.  They suggested getting my car tagged in the mountains to avoid emissions.  I considered it as I was at a loss as to how to proceed.  My car had been tested four times and each time the carbon emissions had decreased.  It wasn't the catalytic converter.  I had a new oxygen sensor put on.  It wasn't adding up.
I dropped my car off and waited.  I knew they were super busy from sitting in their waiting room on Monday.  Their phone had rung off the hook.  I knew that my car would be at their shop the majority of the day.
I waited til about noon to see the progress of my car.  I could have waited but I was impatient.  Of course, they had not yet worked on my car and so I went to lunch.  About 3 pm, I called the mechanic to see what my next step was. I knew that the loaner car was due back at 5.  The guy I spoke to told me that the mechanic had taken my car to emissions to have it passed.  Talk about going above and beyond.  I was shocked at their graciousness and commitment to my car.
I dropped the car off at five.  Hoping to hear that it had passed emissions.  Instead, it failed again.  The mechanic told me to ask for a waiver as I had surpassed the minimum repair limit of $715.  I could qualify for a waiver if I met with a state guy.  I called to arrange the appointment and expressed my frustration with this process.  I had oodles of hours at the mechanics shop, five failed emissions tests, uber rides, not being able to work and wasted gas from trekking all over Denver trying to pass my test.  The gentleman I spoke to did not care that I had spent time or money on this situation.  He only wanted to verify that I had the repair work done and that it was valued at $715.  Oh, and that the inspector would not be available to see the car until Monday.  This was Friday in November.  Meaning my car was now illegally driving in Denver.  My plates had expired.  I couldn't get a temp tag without emissions and I was screwed for the weekend.
I waited til Monday for the guy to contact me.  Thankfully, he did, first thing.  We arranged a meeting and I was thankful for his assistance.  He saw my car, had all of my receipts and gave me a waiver.  FINALLY.
I told him of my experience.  All of the jerks that I had encountered along the way.  He was empathetic and for that, he redeemed part of the bad taste I had in my mouth for the emissions process.  At least he saw that I was trying to do the right thing and I had committed to getting my car tagged in the best possible way. 
I did, too.  I am now a legal resident of Colorado with the license plates to prove it.  I have my license, insurance and can move forward with settling into life.  I am thankful for my friends who have listened to me rant about this for the last two weeks.
And today, I will focus on work and establishing roots here. I am back!

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