But that's not the end of my car woes. Far from it.
Apparently, I did manage to fuck up my transmission on Sunday. I was originally going to take my truck in to the Midas on Friday to replace the slave cylinder and clutch. However, I decided to put it off until Monday so that I could have my car during elgatocurioso and keyasau3's weekend visit and because I did not get a good vibe from the folks at Midas. I bought some clutch/gear oil to help carry me through the weekend, but I could not figure out where to pour it. On the way into Boston on Sunday, I thought my truck was going to explode as a loud wrenching sound came from the transmission. I couldn't downshift into second and I could hear the unlubricated gears grinding against each other.
The technician at the AAMCO explained that there was almost no oil in the gearbox when they drained it. Once they got the car driveable, they noticed there was still a problem with the transmission, including a continued resistance to downshifting into second. The technician's educated guess is that the gears have either slipped out of alignment or been damaged from the friction of driving with an oil-less gearbox. However, there is no way to tell precisely what is wrong without taking the transmission apart. Taking a transmission out and apart is no simple matter, and the labor alone would be approximately $500. They gave me an estimate of anywhere from $1200 to $1500 for the total job. It's possible that I could get lucky and that the necessary repairs are relatively inexpensive (beyond the labor cost, that is), but they are being conservative and realistic with their estimate.
Now, I don't have to get the transmission repaired. The car is driveable. The condition will probably worsen with time. It may get gradually worse over a couple of years, or it could suddenly stop running. They can't know without knowing precisely what is wrong. Since it's a standard transmission (as opposed to automatic), chances are it'll get worse slowly and I could drive it as is for some time. But frankly, I'm not comfortable driving a car that has trouble with its lower gears.
It's painful, but I think I need to go ahead and authorize the work now. I've got the credit, though I really hate to use it right now when I'm trying to cut down spending and pay down my debts. Nonetheless, being carless is not an option while I'm in the Boston area, given many of the places I have to be able to get to are not T-accessible and often not local, and having a properly operating vehicle is a matter of safety to me. <sigh> I'm not happy right now.