I have a thread going on about this is the New Member forum, but I thought this might be a better place for it.
My tale of woe:
I bought a 2003 WRX with 46,000 miles on it from CarMax on July 18th, 2009. I drove it around for awhile, had it checked out by a mechanic (though I'm fairly certain they saw that it had four wheels and called it good), and finally decided to keep it. (With CarMax, you get 5 days after the purchase date to bring it back for a refund for any reason.)
18 days later, the Check Engine Light came on. It had been idling a little rough when it would first start up in the morning, so I wasn't all that surprised. Driving around, though, it felt fine, with no hesitation or anything like that.
So, I drove it to AutoZone and had them check the code. It was P0302, cylinder 2 misfire. Shortly after that, I took it to the CarMax service department to get it fixed. They replaced an ignition coil and I had my car back a couple days later.
It ran fine for a few days, and then, starting it up one Saturday morning for a trip to a nearby city, it felt particularly rough, and the CEL was back. Damn. I drove it back to AutoZone to check the code, and once again it was P0302. It felt fine on the drive their, so I decided to go ahead and make my trip.
On the trip there, it performed as perfectly as it ever has. No roughness, no hesitation, just smooth sailing.
Once my wife and I got settled in our hotel room, we decided to go grab a bite to eat. On the way to the restaurant, we noticed that the AC was blowing hot air. "Crap!" I thought. "Oh well, just another problem to have the guys at CarMax look at." Then I looked down at the temperature gauge in the dash.
The temperature gauge was pegged out, all the way up to the "H." A bit frantic, I slowed down as much as I could on the highway, and the gauge settled down a bit. It was still indicating a high temperature, but it was not a panic level. As we were close to the restaurant, I limped into the parking lot, parked it, and tried to enjoy the meal.
Getting back in the car after the meal, the temperature seemed to be alright, so I decided to head back to the hotel. On the way to the hotel, the temperature gauge began behaving erratically. It would shoot up way high, then fall back down to normal, seemingly at random. However, it remained mostly normal the entire way back to the hotel.
After it sat in the parking lot for a fair bit, I went out and started it up and let it idle for quite awhile. During that time, the temperature gauge never rose above a normal level.
The next morning, feeling a little bit pissed off at the car and having a generally ****-it-all attitude, I decided to drive the thing back home. For about the first 1/4 of the trip, it behaved wonderfully. Then the temperature gauge started to creep up a little bit. I slowed down. The gauge crept up faster. I sped up. The gauge crept back down. It seemed to particularly dislike any sort of incline in the road. Deciding to be particularly stupid and throw all common sense and caution to the wind, when I came up to the next inclined section of road, I cranked the AC up as high as it would go and put the peddle to the metal. The gauge plummeted downward.
After that, anytime the gauge began to creep up, I would give it a little more gas, and then the gauge would settle down. When we got back to town and into normal street traffic, the gauge climbed all the way back up again. So, I decided to pull into a parking lot and wait awhile to let everything cool down. After that, I drove it the last couple miles home, the gauge higher than normal most of the way there.
The next morning (this morning), I called CarMax to have it towed in to get fixed. I wasn't able to talk to them much at all today since I was busy at work, but I do know that they're sending it to a Subaru dealer to have the ECU updated/looked at/replaced/or something. I plan to get more details first thing tomorrow morning.
So, other than having a massively stupid person for a driver*, what do you all think is wrong with my car? What would cause the temperature gauge to behave so erratically, to settle down in situations that I would have thought would have freaked it out?
*In my defense, I was able to keep the temperature gauge down to a normal level for the majority of the trip. All told, it spent very little time significantly above normal.