David Janik-Jones
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Waterloo
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Hi all,

Really embarrassed to ask, and don't know if this crosses the line beyond appropriate, but here goes ... Was on a family trip from our home near Toronto to NYC. On the way back yesterday, in Auburn, NY, my car has completely broken down and the family (my wife and two sons and me) are stuck here.

So here's the big ask ... Does anyone live out on the west side of Syracuse (or anywhere near Auburn), fancy coming to Auburn to pick us up and take us to the Syracuse airport (or maybe a car rental location in west Syracuse like Enterprise)? I can rent a car there (none in Auburn available) and at least drive my family home tonight and back tomorrow while the Honda guys are trying to figure out what's wrong with my car.

I'd be willing to pay for gas and time (and the I-90 toll if applicable) because I've been told that a cab would be way up in the $150 range.

Really stuck here and looking desperately for advice, suggestions, or any help at all.

Thank you.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Florence
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Re: Broken down in Auburn, NY ... need help for the family
My understanding is that Enterprise will pick you up.
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David Janik-Jones
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Waterloo
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Re: Broken down in Auburn, NY ... need help for the family
Good morning everyone ...

First off, let me say how generous and friendly fellow gamers (especially those in upper state NY) can be when a fellow gamer gets into trouble. In the last 24 hours I have made it home to Waterloo through a series of adventures, though will need to return to Auburn to pick up my expensive repair (whenever that gets done).

I had NY gamers message me with car advice and suggestions (a mechanic), an offer to stay in Syracuse, an offer for dinner, and a former CENTRO transit employee who got us hooked up with bus information. He informed us that buses do run between Auburn and Syracuse with some regularity. And I've just seen JC's offer this morning, thank you very much.

Enterprise was out of cars in Auburn, and none of the Syracuse locations would drive that far to pick us up. We'd managed to get most of the luggage etc out of the car (for the hotel in Auburn the night before) when we found out about the bus late in the day, so managed a run through Auburn loaded down with wheeled suitcases, bags etc (losing a sweater in the process) to board a CENTRO bus seconds before before it pulled out for Syracuse. We got to the central bus station (Adams and South Salina) and got a $35 taxi ride to the airport, where the Enterprise folks bent over backwards for us, arranging, if needed, that the rental can be one way (thanks Nicole!). Then we had to drive back to Auburn to "break" into the car one last time to get the remaining stuff from the trunk (getting massively slowed down by the bridge work at the I90 and state highway 34 near Weedsport), then get back on I90 and head for Lewiston and the border. The border was fine and quiet (the border guard on duty that late seemed amused by our plight) and we arrived home very early this morning. Kids and my wife and I exhausted but home.

Car? Who knows. It's an older four-cylinder 1999 Accord that on the trip rolled 250,000km. The dealer in Auburn hasn't had a chance to look it over (which was the cause for a day-and-a-half delay) besides saying, "Hey, there's no acceleration", which I knew already after limping the thing at 20mph (max) for more than 20 miles off the I90 and it shuddered changing gears and simply had no engine power. Clogged catalytic convertor blowing back into the engine? Fuel pump or line? Transmission blown? Don't know yet but I'm sure it'll be expensive.

Oh well. We're home and we survived.

And did I say that upper NY state gamers are simply the best? Again, thank you to everyone for your offers, information and help yesterday. NYC turned into a family road trip we won't ever forget.

And JC? Let me know if you enjoy Canadian craft beers, I may swing by when we come to pick up the car if you're home.
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David Janik-Jones
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Waterloo
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So I got a call today finally. The dealer has ruled out the exhaust (both muffler and expensive catalytic converter) as the issue, as well as fuel pump and fuel line pressure. Plugs were okay, but lean running condition. That means it's down to the ECM, or possibly (the least expensive) bad fuel. I did fuel up at a small station in a small Poconos town about 30 minutes before the symptoms came on severely, and didn't have any noticeable issue when driving from NYC out to that point, so maybe it's a few hours of checking and a tank of fuel? They're completely removing the fuel and I should know more on Monday.
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Phil Alberg
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It might also be that the gas cap was not screwed on tight. Improper pressure may result in insufficient fuel delivery. It's happened to me...
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David Janik-Jones
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
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Up Front fan, Cats were once worshipped as gods and they haven't forgotten this, Combat Commander series fan, The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me!, Fields of Fire fan
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Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
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So, update time ...

As of last Friday, the dealer told me the exhaust and catalytic converter all checked out fine. As did the fuel line/pump/pressure. The plugs are okay, but in "lean running condition", and their next step was to check for a tank of bad gas, since I'd filled up about 30 minutes before it really started crapping out in some small town, no-name station off highway 81 heading toward Syracuse, as I previously mentioned.

Yesterday afternoon, they'd drained the tank and put new gas in and it seemed to idle fine, and were taking it out on the road this morning for some "good miles."

Just got the call this (Tuesday) morning ... at idle she's fine, but the road test was exactly the same. Sluggish, no acceleration, chugging and jerking when the automatic is changing gears and revving. No change at all. The technician, who I'm told has 30 years of experience, calls it "a strange one" and is apparently really at a loss. There are no engine codes or any computer data the Honda guys can find saying that there is anything wrong. Nada.

I'm at US$452 to date in "repair" costs and still without a working car.

Their next suggestions are: rotor and distributor ($327). After that, PCM (2 more days and $438). Without any guarantee the car is going to run correctly.

For that first $300 I can probably get the car shipped back home, but for what? A local mechanic to start charging me?

I think I'm ready to throw in the towel. I think I can simply sell them the car as is (I'm sure one of the mechanics would take it, or maybe a local junker) for the price of the repairs? Do I want to be out US$1,000+ if they keep going and possibly nothing to show for it. Certainly no guarantee that it'll be fixed. I think I can cobble together enough in cash if I wanted to buy a decent used car (2010 Mazda 3, Nissan Sentra, Honda Civic or similar sized Toyota) from any one of a number of dealers within 50km of my house.

So, now what? All this is a bit stressful and a bit of an unfamiliar and nervous time for me and the Mrs. But the most frustrating thing is not knowing what is actually wrong with that car.

EDIT ... I've started a poll looking for recommendations about what I should buy, if you want to contribute.
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