Jan has this week off for Spring Break and is making the most of it. Every day is planned out with projects, appointments and visiting family. I came home from work this evening and asked her if she was still planning on visiting her mother in one of the collar counties tomorrow. She told me she was planning on it, but the car was making funny noises and she wanted me to check it out before she drove it in the morning.
I don't know a hell of a lot about cars, but I can recognize it if something sounds wrong, so I took it out for a drive around the neighborhood. Just like she said, it sounded "funny". Every time I'd turn the wheel, an annoying whine would come out of the engine compartment. I cut the test drive short and pulled the car back into the garage. With the motor still running, I popped the hood and took a look around (like I would be able to recognize anything).
However, when I looked behind the plastic engine cover thingy, I saw a metal mount, about 6 inches by 6 inches. The mount had four bolt holes in it. The top was scarred and marked like something had once sat there, and each of the holes had 4 nuts in them. No bolts, just loose nuts.
Jan came out in the garage to check on things, and I asked her if she had heard anything strange in the last couple of weeks when she drove the car, like a LARGE piece falling out of the engine compartment. She looked at the empty mount that I was pointing at, and said "Hmmm, that doesn't look right."
The car is attending a slumber party tonight at the local repair shop. We'll see what's wrong with it tomorrow.
First rule of automobile engine trouble shooting: If a huge piece is missing, something's wrong.