The New Car.

As you all know, I’ve been teetering at the edge of a new car purchase for quite a few months. This search was hastened as the Mazda suffered from two pretty intense accidents, the first with a deer, the second with a jeep.

This put me in a tough spot. The accident with the Jeep totaled the Mazda. So I needed a new car ASAP. Thankfully, I had already done some research and had decided upon the 2012 Ford Fusion SEL.

Why the Fusion?

The Fusion provides a middle of the road choice. With this car I can feel confident that I’m not overdoing it, but still afford some of the options that enhance driving pleasure. This is a car that could provide me some comfort without breaking the bank for performance that I wouldn’t utilize to its fullest potential.

Sure, it doesn’t have the flare of a BMW or Acura TL… let’s not forget that roommate Nick had even deemed the Fusion as Vanilla… But the price tag is much easier to take. Plus, since my company is a member of the X-plan, negotiating was cake. The end price for the SEL ended up hovering around 26k. Negotiations took all of 20 minutes and got me about $3,200 off the sticker price.

Mike D's New Car

2.5L 175HP I4 FWD
~33 MPG

Under the hood

A few of the luxuries:
Leather interior
Microsoft SYNC
Heated seats
Power everything
Surprisingly enjoyable ambient lighting
Passanger temp controls


My general thoughts: So far so good. The car drives well. It’s comfortable and as a mid-size, much more spacious than I’m used to.

You may have noticed it’s not a standard. I decided to bail on that criteria after realizing that the only manual options were bare-bones. No options, no luxuries.

Microsoft SYNC is ridiculous. The car will connect to my iPhone via bluetooth – nothing special about that. But more than just phone, SYNC can play my music collection via bluetooth as well… or Pandora if I want to stream that. It’s pretty snazzy.

It has a 17 gallon gas tank. Holy Moly this is convenient. When leisurely highway driving is in the mix this equates to 600 miles without needing to fill up.

Anti-utilitarian spoiler

I love the interior and the shape of the car. I’m not a huge fan of the faux spoiler – seems unnecessary. But that’s not a big deal for me.

Complaints? The visibility stinks. I opted not to spend the extra $1000 for the ‘driver vision’ package. This included a back-up camera and Blind Spot indicators. In retrospect, this would be nice. I’m pretty sure someone could put a picnic bench behind the car and it’d be impossible to see it while in reverse.

Special thanks to all those people who provided recommendations as to what I should purchase. I took everything into consideration and really appreciate the time you donated to the cause. Thanks!!

Sleep habits.

For the past few years I have followed nearly the exact same nightly routine: Lay on back, drift off, turn on side, fall asleep. And for these past few years I’ve found myself frequently waking up with my hands weirdly swollen. A quick internet search suggests arthritis, poor circulation, or pregnancy as the cause for such an ailment. And while I don’t think I’m pregnant, poor circulation could certainly be a culprit. Before I go about trying to improve circulation, I figured I’d first try to adjust my sleeping position so I’m not laying on my arm.

Last week I tried to change to a back only method of drifting off. And I gotta admit, things went better than expected. For a full week I was rocking sleep corpse style: on back, arms at sides or across chest. Still, I’m not pleased with this orientation and I think I can do better.

Or maybe I just need a new mattress.

Beautiful Machine.

As time passes, you can expect more and more quality posts about car repair here on My mother continues to incessantly nag calmly recommend that I get a new vehicle, but I think this car has plenty more life within it.

Let’s recap this month’s fiasco.

Here is Rod Zapa post deer impact

Rod Zapa's hood, like a wrinkled dress shirt, pleas for ironing.

I had a few options.
1. Buy a brand new hood.
2. Buy a used hood.
3. Bang out the dents in this hood.

After a short amount of deliberation, I decided to go with option two.

First destination? The salvage yard. Roommate Brian was kind enough to come along for the trip, and lend his truck to the acquisition of a new hood. We searched the yard, finally finding a 98 Mazda Protege. We took the hood and the IAC valve, sadly the front headlights were missing. Still, like the vague smell of milk just past the expiration date, something seemed awry.

When we got home we realized that my hesitation was more than purely psychological. I don’t have a 98 mazda. It’s a 97.

So… amazingly… dumb.

Brian was kind enough to return to the salvage yard yesterday while I was at work, and picked me up a hood off of a 97. Strangely, the IAC from the 97 still didn’t fit. The hood however? Perfect.

Final results:


Oh man. I bet you never thought it’d look so good! Now all I need is a new IAC valve, air intake hose, and driver’s side blinker and light. With these modifications, Rod Zapa will safely bring me into new eras of epic driving.

Calling All Car Gurus!

Rod Zapa, my trustworthy 1998 Mazda Protege, has been having some very frustrating idle problems lately. I will spare no detail in hopes that one of my more car-familiar readers might be able to find a clue.

1998 Mazda Protege, Manual. 123k miles.

Frequently during neutral deceleration (with or without the break), the tachometer will dip aggressively to its occasional demise. The car will either idle precariously at 100-200rpm, shudder and return to ~650 rpm, or stall. Once the car is warmed up (> ~6 minutes of driving), the problem does not occur.

This only happens during deceleration. Once the car settles at a stop light or stop sign, the idle bounces back to a somewhat stable 750rpm (the idle still seems to quaver just slightly.) This is really weird to me. As soon as the car relaxes backwards at a stop the idle pops back to normal.

This occurs regardless of whether the clutch is in, or out.

Weather (wet vs dry) does not seem to impact the problem much, though the problem is less pronounced when it’s cold outside.

Car Diagnosis So Far:
I have had the following car components fixed within the last 6 months.

1. timing belt (unrelated?)
2. breaks and calipers (unrelated)
3. muffler system (unrelated?)
4. spark plugs and wires
5. distributor cap and rotor
6. O2 sensor front
7. O2 sensor rear
8. Fuel Filter

My mechanic reports that excessive carbon build up in the throttle body has been cleaned.

My mechanic also reports that he found no leak in the vacuum system.

The belts currently screech like a banshee for the first 60 seconds after I turn the car on.

The engine light has tripped with O2 sensor faults on two of the three stalls (it hasn’t tripped since the rear O2 sensor was replaced).

Car Gurus of, any ideas?