You know that sinking feeling you get when something is about to go terribly wrong and there is not a single thing you can do to change it? Some might call it a premonition, others might label it "second sight" while still more people would say it's nothing more than one's instincts essentially smelling danger on the wind.
None of that happened Thursday morning as I was driving to work and the serpentine belt EXPLODED under the hood of my car.
I've heard people say that I in particular am "hard" on the cars I drive. This is true to a degree but I certainly don't treat them like I'm racing in NASCAR all the time. But when something under the hood of your car EXPLODES immediately followed by a complete loss of power steering, you start to worry. The good news was that I was exiting the Tollway when this happened and was able to pull into the gas station by the off-ramp.
The bad news is that my car wasn't going anywhere. Period.
I pop the hood and smoke billows out. Once the air clears I examine the remains and find what's left of the belt has shreded almost entirely. It's also twisted around just about everything under the hood like an octopus clutching its prey.
I make a call to My Fair Lady and let her know what's going on and she tells me she's racing to her car to come meet me even before I finish explaining the problem. When she made it to where I was, we contacted a towing company then followed up with a quick call to our insurance. When Big Ed from the towing company arrived about half an hour later, he tossed the car up onto his flatbed and hauled out of the gas station en route to the nearby Firestone. Normally I don't care for them as a company, but I've been to this particular branch off and on for the last decade and they've never steered me wrong.
My Fair Lady drives me over to the Firestone and after briefly talking with them she drives me down the street to work. The funny part about all this is I'd been less than two miles from work all morning but didn't actually walk in the door until 10:30 a.m.
Around 4 p.m. is when Firestone calls back and tells me they've made the repairs and that'll be $450. Apparently when the belt EXPLODED it blew off something important and then the remains were twisted up into a pulley system apparently installed by monks at the Jeep factory in Tibet.
The car now runs fine, but now I need two new tires as well. Ahh, the joys of car ownership.