Well....a few months back, I found out the hard way that the plates were suspended on the TSTE. I asked the officer for what, and she said something about emissions testing time had expired. I was like WTF? I've never received anything on the TSTE. All the other cars, yes, but never the TSTE. So, I ate the ticket (because apparently, it doesn't matter if the government screws up, only the little guy), and then pondered what to do. I was afraid the cracked crossover wouldn't allow it to pass.
I figured I'd try taking the TSTE in to emissions as is, since it was already suspended and I had nothing to loose. So, I get it in one Saturday right before they close. Warmed it up for 20 minutes, took a 5 minute drive down there, and took another 5 minutes or so by the time I waited in line, they did the gas cap test, and got it up on the rollers. Test gets underway, and I begin cringing (I hate watching the dyno meter test; something about doing 60 mph while the car is stationary for a few minutes doesn't sit well with me). After about a minute, the driver starts shaking his head, getting off the gas, getting back on it, and shaking his head again. Another minute goes by, and I see bellows of smoke come pouring out the hood vents, and then from under the car. Another moment or two later, a rush of coolant starts spilling from near the radiator on to the ground. Naturally, I was screaming my head off and cursing ( I was in the booth they make you wait in). I ran outside the booth, and the guy told me to get back in. I was going nuts. The guy waiting in the booth with me while his car got tested in the next bay over thought I was going to kill someone. My sister was there, too, because she drove the AWD STE behind me, which was also due for emissions. That one had to do the old fashioned test of just getting a reading from the exhaust pipe at idle, due to it being AWD, and it passed with flying colors. Anyway, so they pulled the car out of the testing area, and outside. A minute later, I guess it was the supervisor that came in the booth, and told me to follow him. I ran outside, where the hood of the car was open, and coolant was dripping off of it. He pointed at a flush t-valve (on the passenger side hose, near the radiator) which LITERALLY had a chunk of it missing. The cap was still there, the ends were on either side of it still attached to the hoses, but a large hole was present in the valve. He gave me the standard "yeah, that'* all that happened. Just replace that part, and add some coolant in it, and it will be fine". I wasn't really paying much attention to him at this point, and his pathetic advice. He preceeded to fill out some paperwork. I'm looking around the car, going nuts, a million things running through my mind about what they just did, and cursing up a storm. Then I noticed something fall to the ground out of the corner of my eye by the rear passenger side wheel. I walked over to it, and found it was the piece of paper he filled out. He was trying to avoid me, I guess, so he set it on the trunk and walked away while I was under the hood and couldn't notice him leaving. The sheet just marked reasons why the test couldn't be completed, which consisted of "car is leaking more then a few drops of fluid", and "car overheating". I walked back into the testing area and said this wasn't finished yet, and he gave me the good old "it'* not? What more could you possibly want?" playing dumb look. He walked back out with me, and I asked for his name, and the name of the guy testing the car. He gave me a "what could you possibly need THAT for" look. I told him I'm not worried about a $ .20 plastic part, I'm worried about possibly blowing the headgasket, or warping the heads, or any other damage the overheating could have done. Both he, and another guy that came out with him immediately gave me a defiant "noooo, noooo, that wouldn't have happened. We pulled the car out immediately" statement. I was like what???? You OVERHEATED the car! It doesn't matter HOW quick you pulled it out. The act of overheating the car has itself already put the motor in danger of being damaged. They kept denying that would be an issue, and told me the test wouldn't have caused the overheating, anyway. Standard company lines. I asked him what his automotive credentials were, which rendered him silent. At this point, I figured I wasn't going to get anywhere with them, and I let them leave. I decided I'd just address the EPA directly about it after I investigate any other issues the car might have. They said it would be ok to leave the car there, though, till I fix it, or tow it, whatever.
There is a NAPA literally across the street from the testing facilities, so I took off the remains of the flush valve, and matched it up with a replacement for it. My home is about 5 minutes away, so I ran back to my place, and got some antifreeze from the trunk of one of the other cars. Came back, put the new valve in, topped off the really low coolant, and started her up. It only took a few seconds for the needle to rise back up to overheating range. Even before that, the coolant didn't go down, but rather started bubbling at the top of the radiator. I'm thinking "christ, this is not good". I shut her down, and left it for a while. This testing facility is in an industrial area, and there are quite a few mechanics just around the corner from it. I decided I'd let her really cool down, and come back to take it to the same guy that did the fuel pump on the TGP. Well, when I did, the car went right back to nearly overheating within a matter of the minute or 2 it took me to get it into a parking space at the mechanics. It was also missing pretty badly, and idling horribly. The next day (Sunday), I changed the thermostat, just for the hell of it, even though it was only a few months old. I topped off the coolant again because it had managed to go down in spite of topping it off the day before (another bad sign), and started it back up. It seemed to do a LITTLE better in the overheating department. It would go up quickly, then suddenly drop over and over again. So I certainly wasn't happy or satisfied with the outcome. I wasn't sure what was going to happen with the EPA about this, and I couldn't leave it sitting in the mechanics parking lot for a week or two. So I decided to slowly drive it 5 minutes home. It made it their ok, doing the rising temp, and quickly falling thing the whole way there. It'* been sitting like that ever since.
I have since discovered from one of the undercover cops who'* a customer at the store I manage that they should have provided me with a complaint form.
So I went back last week. The same supervisor was in the office. I said "yeah, someone told me you guys have complaint forms?" He said is there a problem? No, retard. I was just asking to confirm this rumor!.......ok, I didn't actually say that. I told him what happened a few weeks ego, and he said "so
? It overheated." At this point, I gave him a "don't make me jump this counter and kill you" look. I told him the car had no problems prior to the test, and he again gave me the standard "the test wouldn't cause the car to overheat" line. I said "I can find quite a few mechanics who would disagree with you on that, so why don't we leave that up to the attornees and judge to decide"? He didn't say a word after that.
I filled out the report in vivid detail, and the guy told me someone will contact me in 10 days about it. So....the wait began.
My god, I just can't catch a break with these cars. My biggest concern right now is that the sticker is expired on the TSTE'* plates, and I can't purchase a new one because the plates are suspended. I don't plan on driving it, but the management in my apartment complex will tow it away if the plate isn't current. They don't want cars being "stored" there. And now, the TGP is up for the same fate. The plates are due to be suspended tomorrow. :( I've been putting some heavy mileage on the AWD STE due to all this. It'* damn near 95K miles, now, which I really didn't want it to reach any time soon, since it was low mileage for the year. I may just have to give all of them up soon, and just get a mint Grand Am GT or something for now. Save up the pennies for a house, and then buy really nice condition versions of the cars I want when I have the change for it. My current work hours and living situation (in an apartment complex) doesn't really allow for restoration projects. And considering all but maybe one of my cars are restoration projects, I have no real, easy maintenance daily driver. I don't know.....I guess I'll wait and see what happens with the TSTE situation.