So I got the Citroën out of the front driveway that Monday morning and parked it out back by the pond. That was a good thing to have done, since it turned out Dominique the mechanic couldn't look at it for a week. Every day, I went out in the morning and tried to start the engine. Nothing doing. It would crank and crank and crank but never catch. The car was out of commission for a full week.
Not having the Citroën meant that CHM and I couldn't go driving around nearly as much as I had planned while he was here from Paris. I wanted to drive the two hours over to Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, a famous wine village. I've enjoyed the wines from there for years but I've never seen the place. Past that, toward Angers, is the town called Beaufort-en-Vallée, which is twinned with the town of Beaufort in North Carolina, near where I was born and grew up. We had to scrub that trip.
Photos today: our 2016 vegetable garden
It just didn't seem safe to drive the 15½-year-old Peugeot over such long distances in such hot weather (temps in the mid-90s). If we had trouble with it, there'd be no way to call Walt on the phone and ask him to come rescue us. So CHM and I had to make do with shorter trips to places we'd seen many times before: Montrichard for lunch at La Villa, Romorantin for some shopping at the Centre Leclerc and the SuperU market. Instead of touring around much, we mostly stayed home and I cooked lunches.
When last Sunday came, I gave up on ever getting the Citroën started and called my insurance company's roadside assistance line. I asked them to come tow the car over to Dominique's garage, which, by the way, is now open on Mondays. He changed his schedule, and I hadn't been there in such a long time that I was unaware of the new hours.
The man with the tow truck showed up at 9:00 on the dot last Monday morning. I like the way these guys operate. They drive up in a big flat bed truck and haul the car up on it using an electric winch and a tow hook attached to the front of the car. The truck bed tips down to touch the ground, forming a ramp, and then the car ends up secure and out of the way on the flat bed, not riding on its back wheels behind the truck. I followed the driver over to Dominique's place of business.
He said they would hook the Citroën up to a computer and get a list of status numbers from the various components of the engine, including error codes. I say computer, and I think that must be what it is, but Dominique called it « la valise ». I just looked it up, and it seems to be a brand name for tablet computers running software for automobile engine diagnostics. I told Dominique I'd come back in 24 hours and see what the verdict was. I trust him to do the necessary work at a reasonable price.
On Tuesday morning, I drove over there again (it's less than 5 miles from the house). When I walked in, Dominique shook my hand with a look on his face that said "bad news". The bad news was not about the car, however, but about the man who sold it to me. He's a local dealer for a major French car company — not Peugeot or Citroën. "It was the filtre à gasoil (the diesel-fuel filter) that was clogged," Dominique said. "My esteemed colleague who sold you the car didn't bother to check whether it had been replaced according to the service schedule or not."
The fuel filter is supposed to be changed every 60K kilometers, and the Citroën has about 88K kilometers (about 50K miles) on the odometer now. It had 83K on it when I bought it 18 months ago. Dominique said the date stamped on the fuel filter was 2007, so it was an original part. He thought the dealer who sold the car should have checked it. Anyway, it was no big deal to change, and the car runs fine now. It cost me 100 euros.
I had already had trouble with the car once before, and it was also because of the man who sold it to me. The battery died a few months ago. Dominique loaned me his jumper cables so that I could start the Citroën by jumping it using the Peugeot's battery. He said it would cost me a lot less if I got it started and drove it over to his garage rather than having him send somebody here to put in a new battery. It turned out that the dealer had put an old, worn-out, and under-powered battery in the car when I bought it. I should have had it all checked out by Dominique at the time, but I didn't. My bad.
The good news is that the car is running great right now. We were able to drive it up to Blois to put CHM on his train back to Paris on Wednesday. Now I've parked it in the garage, and as soon as I can I'll take it back over to Dominique's for a full check-up. I don't want any more bad surprises. By the way, included in this post are a few pictures of the current state of our 2016 vegetable garden.