Well that was far too good to be true. We were so excited to get our car back on the road after such an extended time in the gifted Buick from my Grandma. We drove to the post office and commented on how nice it runs, how quiet it idles, how happy we are. Leaving the post office for the grocery store, the engine coughs, hiccups and begins to sound like a riding lawnmower. We ease it home, the kids and I get out, and Drew takes it straight up to Meineke.
The oil pick-up tube was clogged. Now we’ve been told all along (since it first died 8 weeks ago) that our engine is full of sludge — we’ve always had regular maintenance on the car but generally had this done at Wal-Mart’s Tire & Lube Express since where we lived in south Georgia, there weren’t many options open. Apparently Wal-Mart has been putting SAE30 and 10w30 oil in our car for years, where the manual calls for 5w30. In the short run, our car ran fine on this heavier weight oil. In the long run, it sludged up the engine.
Meineke did a lot of cleaning work on our engine these past weeks but they strongly warn against an engine flush, saying that they feel that dislodging all of the gunk at once might kill the engine entirely. They suggest that we continue regular maintenance as always but bringing it to them only, to ensure that the proper weight is put in the engine. I have no problem with this since we really like the owner and his mechanics and they seem to know what they’re talking about, but I was thinking that not doing the engine flush was a little nuts if our engine is full of sludge.
So what did I do? I ran a Google search of course, and it turns out that Meineke is exactly right, that flushing the engine can cause bits of sludge to get caught up in the engine and cause a total meltdown. The sites I found described an engine flush as a “profit maker” for disreputable repair shops. The upshot of this search is that I feel even better about our choice of mechanics now.
Back to the current lawnmower-esque problem. Mike at Meineke says yesterday that it could be a clogged oil pick-up tube (about $200 to replace) or if not that, it might need a new oil pump (about $1k). We told them to go ahead and replace the tube and held our breaths that it would work. Word from Mike this morning is that it did, the car is back to sounding beautiful, operated perfectly on the test drive and he’s giving us 10% off for coming back again.
Third times a charm I hope. This puts us at about $2700 put into this car in 8 weeks and I’m so over this repair nonsense.