$712 $718 later, my car is fixed. About $200 of that was routine maintenance; I asked that it be done at the same time because (a) it’s about due and (b) it saves me a future trip. My “Service Engine Soon” light came on for 3 reasons. It detected problems with the spark plug and spark plug wires. I had those replaced. It also detected “early” problems with the mechanism that hold the belts tightly in place. This explains the whining sound I’d hear first thing in the morning when the car was warming up. I had them replace that as well, which cost about $300. There were also some fluid replacements and a new air filter. But my car is clean and in tip-top shape now.
One annoying thing about sitting in a waiting room: the TV. I was there by myself for the first hour, but there was no way to turn off the TV–or even turn down the volume. And I couldn’t find anyone who was willing to do it for me. “It’s there for the customers.” I looked around the room and saw no other customers. I think it was there for the noise. It means that I got very little reading done during the 2 hours I was at Saturn (perhaps 30 pages). I can’t concentrate well with a TV droning on in the background. I got nearly as much read on the train ride into work after getting my car fixed.