I've get a bigger probe now (heh heh).


So my old probe got totalled. A sad day if there ever was one. I've written repeatedly about how much I enjoyed that car. Things were kinda shaky at work, and I didn't feel like signing up for a buttload of debt in the current economy. So, what to do?

I sat down and thought about what I wanted in a car. I liked the 2+2 coupe design (I already have a sedan, after all), and I wanted a V6, and I wanted something used, and cheap, and I wanted a manual. Hey, why not get another Probe? This time, a GT.

So, off to Autotrader I went. Now before I get to the car search part, let me air a little beef I have with Autotrader...

All their commercials have people searching for cars based on the features they want in a car: "We'd like an SUV, with a big engine, in red!" As the consumer refines their desires, scores of cars are winnowed away. There's only one problem with this scenario.

You can't actually do that on their website

If you're looking for a car, you have to know the make and model you're looking for before you look for any other features. So, for (what I consider to be) the only sensible way to search for a used car, Autotrader is completely fucking useless; since I have to know which cars have these features before I ever start using their website. These problems are the things computers are supposed to be good at helping us with, aren't they? Ok, enough italics.

I should mention here that this is no longer the case. Autotrader has fixed and you can now search that site in the appropriate way without problem. I kept this here mainly for historical reasons and my own amusement.

So I went looking for various cars: Probe GT's, MX-6's, MX-3's, Integras... It was sort of laborious, but the most common and cheapest were Probe GT's. I narrowed my search down to about 200miles (didn't want to deal with out of state), and started calling places.

I soon learned not to bother with places that didn't list the mileage (it was usually over 100K), and to call as soon as I saw an interesting listing (because things either went fast, or got left up forever after being sold). I missed a few interesting deals, and then caught one from a dealer in Monroe, NC. A 1995 Ford Probe GT, 70K miles, and the exact same color as mine. I wasn't looking for the exact color and year (although the 95's have a better looking light bezel in the back), but it was neat to see that.

So I called the guys, talked to them about the car, ran the VIN, and told them I'd probably drop by that weekend (it's like a four hour trip). It was Thursday. I hung up and my officemate said "We can go this afternoon. It's a nice day." I thought "What the Hell?", and called the dealer back. A quick check of my funds and we were on the way.

We got to Monroe just about 6pm, and immediately gave the car a fairly through going over and a quick drive. The clutch slipped a bit. The brakes could use replacing. The tires were almost bald. It felt slightly under the weather for a V6. But there were good points. There was almost no rust. The handling was superb. All the electrics seemed in good order. The mechanical parts of the drive train seemed sound. The sunroof worked. They'd inspected it to give me a year before I had to do any really expensive work. I got them to knock a little off the price, we signed some paperwork, and I was now the owner and we headed back to Raleigh.

About 5 miles into it, the "Check Engine" light came on.

I didn't notice a loss of power or any funny noises, so I pulled into a gas station, popped the hood and took a look and listen. My officemate and I determined that this was some sort of emissions related thing, and nothing was glowing under the hood, so we kept on going. The light came on and off several times before I got home.

When I got home, I hit the Internet and figured out how to pull the codes. It was O2 sensors, and something called a "Effective Manifold Length Adjustment Solenoid" I figured on doing a full tune up and replacing the O2 sensors before attacking the last part. Meanwhile, I had the brakes done.

As Sean and I were replacing the O2 sensors, I found a loose wire! It was a single conductor, and had a connector on the end. Poking around with a flashlight, I found a likely stud on the back of the engine. It was obviously a sensor of some sort, and it was the exact distance needed. We hooked it "back" up. I've not thrown an engine code since, and the car runs spectacularly.

Recently, after a particularly bad bump, the right front turn signal went out. I hate this, and wanted to replace it as soon as possible. An hour or so in the driveway dissuaded me of this. You really can't reach in there to get the lamp, and even if you could get it out, getting it back in would be worse. The Owner's Manual says "Take it to the dealer", so I did. I was not going to take off the bumper (which it seemed like would be required).

It's a $40 repair, so there's probably a midget in a box, or a secret tool that I don't know about. I'm betting on the secret tool, and thinking about how to construct one myself.

Of course, Probes are apparently targets, because barely two years into my ownership I got into another accident! This time, someone was dropping off a person by the right side of the road, then moved to make either a left turn or a U-turn. This wouldn't have been a problem if I wasn't there at the time. I ended up solidly T-boning them. Airbags and everything!

With a solid hit and resultant damage on his driver's side rear door, the guy tried to claim I rear-ended him while he was making a left turn. Umm, yeah. The police report is a study in minimalist commentary: "Damage is consistent with Driver 2's [ed: me] explanation." Sadly, this totaled my second Probe. At least this time I took pictures.

I go two places for Internet Probe Information...