January 2, 2018

802 words 4 mins read

My Car Sucks!

A happy new year. As we entered 2018 just a day ago, we still have a week until we enter Heisei 30, the Japanese calendar. Therefore it is a perfect time to reflect on last year. In this post however I will only write about my car. It has been a while since I purchased it, but not so long ago, that I could started enjoying it. Here is why.

In front of Nissan’s Engine Museum in Tsurumi

I have been to a few car dealers in Kanagawa prefecture. I was looking for a Sprinter Trueno or a Corolla Levin hatchback. The shops I went to however were a bit of a let down. The prices were high for vehicles that were not necessarily in good shape. Even the idea of buying a project car was floating in my head. But when I went to Kyoto, I actually signed a contract and purchased a Kouki 3dr. Sprinter Trueno. I even a rented a car park a little far away from home (cheapest I could find). The dealer however said, the delivery would take 3 months. Inspections, repair, fluid changes, registration, and the transport from Kyoto to Yokohama.

Even though I bought my dream car, I didn’t want to tell anybody yet. A few peeps knew, but I was dying to receive it and make it public. Three months later, I received the car and applied for a full coverage insurance on a Friday over phone and email. The next day I was on a 2 day trip three prefectures to the north to attend a Gymkhana event. On the fourth day after delivery, when I was driving to the event after a night in Nikko, I had a head gasket blow.

Now the difficult part comes. I was far away from home, and even farther away from Kyoto. Now, with the hope of getting road service from my insurance, I called them. Sadly, because the insurance was done literally 1 day ago, my insurance did not show up in the system and the insurance company refused the road service. I called JAF (Japanese Automobile Federation). I am not a member of that automobile club, so they did not want to take my car back to my dealer hundreds of kilometers away. Instead only the nearest shops would work. But I don’t know any shops in this foreign country and all the official Toyota dealers refused the car (a classic AE86). So I managed to park it at a body shop of co-workers family member.

My car dealer Carland86 was doing quite a lot of talking, as some of the people I had contact with, could not speak English. Carland86 can’t either. In the end, Carland86 asked a specialty shop in Tsukuba, the famous Koshimizu Motor Sports. KMS would pick up the car from the body shop and look at it in their shop right next to Tsukuba Circuit. I had to do a lot of talking to the insurance company, to include both transfers of the car into the insurance, as they only wanted to cover the first one. Luckily, they were cooperative.

Next to a replica of the famous Calsonic GT-R in the parking lot of UDX in Akihabara

By this time, I could enjoy the car only a few days. It was taken away from me again and I did not know for how long. KMS however figured out, that a new head gasket alone would not fix the problem, so they were looking for a replacement engine. I thought this would take quite a time but luckily, a few weeks later, a KMS customer wanted to upgrade the engine of their AE86. So my 205k 4A-GE blue top was replaced by a 140k 4A-GE blue top. The lucky part is, that it was covered by the 3 months of warranty by Carland86.

On the day I got the car back how ever, the coolant temperature gauge happened to break. It worked in the moment of delivery. The problem was a fatigued wire at the connector. It was in the middle of the night and all shops were closed. In fear of over-heating, I parked the car somewhere between office and home and fixed the problem the next day with a connector from Autobacs. Right on the next day, I was in Daikoku-futo PA, where the driver side door speaker fell off.

This is literally the place and time when the speaker fell off and scratched the door vinyl

Basically every time I take the car for a spin, something breaks. Like right now I need to diagnose the noises coming from the transmission, or find a new windshield to fix 3 chips which might not be repairable. The year 2017 was indeed a very unlucky affair with my car.

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