The Sudden Stop

The first car I ever bought, my Ford Fiesta, was a bit of a hard-luck car. Couldn’t ever catch a break. Well, figuratively speaking. Literally speaking it broke all the time. Sometimes I couldn’t blame the car; I recently told a story where the problem was a deer, and another where the problem was another driver.

This particular story occurs very soon after the deer incident.

Getting the car repaired from the deer incident took a few days, as the Fiesta had only been on the market for a few months and sourcing a new bumper cover took longer than usual. In the meantime, insurance put me in a rental car (a Chevy Malibu, as I recall; not exactly on-brand but I’m not going to complain too heartily).

A couple of days after I got the Fiesta back, I went to hang out with some friends from church. We stayed out fairly late, so I was driving back home along I-40 at about 10pm. Suddenly, there was an alarming noise that came from under the hood of my car, and I lost all power. All I could do was coast to the side of the road, after which the car was dead. Wouldn’t start, just nothing.

Well, the car was still new enough that it had the factory roadside assistance on it, so I called the number.

As is often the case, the tow truck operator was not in any particular hurry that evening. In fact, I ended up waiting the better part of an hour for him to arrive. I asked him to tow my vehicle to the Ford service center in Raleigh, and I hopped in his truck and came along for the ride.

Many service centers (and Ford are no exception) have a drop box where you can deposit your key and fill out a form stating what’s wrong with your vehicle if you arrive after hours. I took advantage of this service.

I also called my friend Bruce. You know a friend is a good friend when you call him at 11pm and ask him to come pick you up at a car dealership, and he does.

The Ford techs took a look at the car, and told me the engine was toast. It jumped timing, and being an interference engine, the engine smashed itself to pieces (the mechanical equivalent of the “stop hitting yourself” game from primary school). I asked the tech if I did anything wrong while driving it (as my driving has sometimes been described as overly exuberant). He said “oh no, it’s not supposed to do that no matter how you drive it.”

They sent the engine back to Ford so they could do forensics on it, and they got me a brand new engine. The car had a grand total of 22,000 miles on it and it was already getting its second engine. Always a good sign. At least it was all free for me.

What was also free for me was the Ford Fusion loaner car they put me in. Compared to the Fiesta’s nimble gazelle, the Fusion is a lumbering wildebeest (this was a 2012 model, which is unfortunate because the 2013 model was much nicer and a bit less lumbering). After a week or so of driving a Chevrolet midsize sedan around, I switched to several weeks of driving a Ford midsize sedan. At least I didn’t pay for any of it myself.

Ford eventually got the new engine in and running well. Of the many problems I had with that car, the engine was never again one of them. I will say this for Ford: they took good care of me in this instance.

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