Purple Radiator Eater

A Commuting Report

You might remember that I mentioned the little brush with catatonia our beloved grape-mobile experienced. Or you might not. Who knows if you're still paying attention or what, right?

At any rate, the car went to visit its doctor, who changed some hoses, put some oil and radiator fluid in the old beast, and failed to discover any major leaks. So we took the wee nipper out for a drive on Wednesday. Not far down Kenilworth, we pulled to a stop because of the manic beeping of the heat sensor, which had done its job and noticed that the engine was running very hot. The needle was pinned, dude.

We waited a bit for the car to cool, then looked under the hood and failed to find any fluid in the radiator. So, we glugged some Prestone in there and drove the grape back to its doctor. The doctor spent several fruitless hours on Thursday trying to find a leak. Failing that, he changed the radiator cap ("maybe the disintegrating gasket is letting fluid out when the engine is running") and mentioned his belief that even if he could find what was wrong, perhaps the engine just isn't worth fixing. With the Brunette "safely" on her way to Atlanta (I'll let her tell you about that), I took the purp to my job in Merrifield.

Silver Spring was not yet even in my rear-view mirror before the alarms were tripped again! The temperature needle was doing some heavy-duty visiting in the red, and I was stuck in rush-hour traffic (that is, sitting perfectly still) in the middle of a four-lane highway. What to do, what to do?

Well, I did what any good listener of Car Talk would do: I turned on the heat. What the heck, it's already September, right? It's only going to get up to 85 today, after all. Amazingly, the heat trick worked almost immediately. The needle bade fond farewell to the H and returned to its safe location somewhere midway between too hot and too cold, definite Goldilocks territory.

And it stayed there for the entire trip to Merrifield, as long as I kept the heat on.

At lunch I went out and found a lack of fluid in the radiator again and finished off the bottle we had left in the trunk. I hope it can get us at least as far as the dealer.

Heck, I hope it just gets me home tonight. Wish me luck, eh?

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