Wednesday, June 30, 2010

There is no such thing as a car without problems

This morning I got up on time—7:18. I successfully resisted the urge to destroy my alarm clock. I was about to get in the shower when I realized that we were out of conditioner. So I went downstairs to our storage room and found a new bottle. I then proceeded to take a shower. Then I did my hair and stuff and found an outfit that I rather liked. I brushed my teeth pain-free for the first time in a week or so because all of the sores in my mouth are finally gone. I didn't pack a lunch today because we didn't have any bread, so I was ready to leave for work a full 5 minutes early. I got in my car, excited for the half-hour drive of listening to my favorite music. I put my key in the ignition and turned it—and nothing happened. For the third time in the last week, my car wouldn't start, and this time I didn't have another family car to recharge the battery.

For one so young, I have had a lot of car problems in my day. I bought my first car when I was 16 and I have had one ever since. (Note that I said that I, not someone else, bought my first car. And I still had to go my entire sophomore year of high school without a car, even though I got my license in September or October. I really hate it when parents buy their kids cars for their 16th birthday because no 16-year-old deserves that big of a gift. Just thought I would make it clear that I got my first car because I actually worked for it.)

My first car was a 1997 Volkswagon Golf. I loved that car. It was my favorite shade of green, it was small, and it was a stick-shift. I wasn't too excited about the stick-shift part when I first bought it, but I soon discovered that manually shifting greatly contributes to the speed and power of the car. And besides, if I ever have to drive a dying person to the hospital or something and the only car available is a stick, I won't have to worry about someone's obituary stating that a beloved person died because an incompetent driver wasn't able to drive their car. Plus, shifting builds character.

And boy, my car had a personality. I thought about naming it Mad-Eye Moody a couple of times. I had pretty much decided that it was a boy because it didn't work as well when it was hungry. That sounds a lot like me, actually . . . Most of my car problems didn't arise until I started delivering pizza, putting hundreds of miles on my car every week. That was when I started making a lot of visits to Payson Auto. And I don't think Bry was too thrilled to have me as a regular customer, because my car was INSANE.

For example, the speedometer was one of the first things to wig out on me. After a year or so, I had mastered the inner workings of my speedometer. It worked perfectly fine during the summer, but not at all during the winter. During the spring and the fall it worked some of the time, but the longer I drove the car the less that it worked. I got pretty good at judging my speed by reading the RPM meter and adjusting the gear I was in, so it wasn't that big of a deal. It was frustrating at times, however. One time while I was taking a delivery to a house by the high school, my speedometer died and the check engine light popped on. I was already having a bad night, so being in the bad mood that I was, I punched my steering wheel as hard as I could. And the speedometer started working again. I was so surprised that I hardly noticed the throbbing in my hand. Thus began a loving but abusive relationship with my car. My hand would get bruised from all that punching because a petty little slap wouldn't do the trick. Many times I would be chatting happily away to the person in the passenger seat and then randomly hit my steering wheel with all the force I could muster, not even noticing the shocked and slightly scared face looking at me while I continued to talk as if nothing had happened. Good times.

But the speedometer problem was NOTHING compared to the stupid alarm problem. Whenever I blew a fuse, which happened fairly often because I had to plug my cartop in, everything electrical in my car would freak out. The lights would stop working, the sun roof wouldn't open, the trunk light would pop on, the gages would go haywire, the clock would reset every time I started the car, and the radio wouldn't work. But the worse part of the deal was that the doors wouldn't lock. You could hear the locks whirring, trying to lock, but they would just be stuck in that whirring zone. That whirring noise was a very bad noise because it meant that a worse noise was about to explode from the car. If I tried to unlock the door or start my car, the deafening alarm would go off. I'm pretty sure people in Mexico were writhing in pain on the ground with their fingers stuffed in their ears whenever my blasted alarm went off. The only way to turn it off was to fiddle with the trunk lock. But only after you alerted the entire neighborhood that your car was pulling a tantrum.

For a long time the radio wouldn't work. Then one day it just decided to start working. That was an exciting day. But the radio was still subject to the whims of my car's personality. So as an early graduation present, my parents installed a new radio/cd player into my car while I was on choir tour. I got back to the high school exhausted, but excited to try out my new radio—but my dad made the mistake of locking my car. It was my car that so rudely announced to the school that the choir kids were back from choir tour.

It took my car a long time to warm up to people. It strongly disliked Kimberly and my mom, but it didn't have a problem with my dad. After awhile it started being a good boy for Kimberly, but that was only after she was a regular passenger for at least a year.

Sometimes smoke would come out of the air conditioning vents. Actually, it was probably more like steam. My car never overheated, so to this day I am still baffled as to why steam would come out of the vents. And sometimes smoke came out of the steering wheel, too. Weird.

The wiper fluid tube thing for my back window was aimed backward so that rather than squirting my window with fluid, it would squirt the road behind me. I used this when big mean trucks were shining their big mean headlights into all of my mirrors. Or when I was racing people home. It may have been a wimpy weapon, but it was a weapon nonetheless—not many cars can eject fluid when you actually tell it to.

Then there was the time that my car tried to accelerate on its own. I was delivering pizza during the first snowstorm of the season, which is always a fun experience. I was waiting at a stop sign when it suddenly sounded like someone was revving the gas over and over again and I felt like if I let my foot off the brake as least a little, the car would take off again, regardless if the clutch was in or not. Officially freaked out, I slowly got going again and the car shot back into motion—not a good thing when the roads are covered in snow. My car continued to make the revving noises whenever I was in neutral or at a standstill. That night after I was finally able to go home, I decided to try a little experiment. I stopped at the stop sign right by my house (which in and of itself is unusual), shifted into first gear, and then let go of the gas. In 10 seconds my car went from 0 to 15 without any help from me—and we were going uphill. That was fun to explain to Bry.

Then there were all of the normal wear-and-tear issues—bald tires, blown-out CV joints, dying starters and mufflers. On Saint Patrick's Day my sophomore year of college, after picking my car up from the shop that it had never been to before, my car pulled a major fit, introducing a few new problems that manifested themselves to no one but me. Angry that I was not going to be able to make it to work and fed up with my retarded car, I decided then and there that I had had it—it was time to sell it. It took several months, but finally that car was out of my hands.

My new car, a 2003 Hyundai Elantra, was a blessed change at first. I actually missed the lack of personality. There was nothing weird or quirky about it. I thought that I had finally found a normal car. Wrong again.

While this car hasn't been nearly as insane as my last one, it has gone through some expensive repairs. It overheated while I was going to the dentist one day, and that ended up being a $2000 repair. This lovely experience came during a time when I had 4 dollars in the bank. I recently had to buy 2 new CV joints and get the oil leak fixed.

And then the dreaded time came—time to register my car. I rarely pass the first time, so I wasn't looking forward to it. However, for once, fortune was sent my way. This year I only had to get the emissions done. They spent all of 15 minutes on it and then they were done. All I had to do was hand over 23 bucks and they gave me my certificate. Then I registered my car online and within a few days I had new stickers for my car. It was awesome. But alas, it wasn't meant to be

So now I am sitting here at home, waiting for someone to send me some work so that I can get something productive done today. Talk about a good hair day wasted.


  1. LOL - I just had to explain to my boss why I fell into a fit of hysteria. It sounds like our cars are related, running on prayer, perspiration, pleading, and all the pennies students can scrape together. It makes for really awesome stories though. I think the gas revving one is impressive.

    Also, it makes me happy that you had to buy your first car @ 16 - our parents did that too. I don't think I've ever loved/hated a car with as much enthusiasm as I did my first batmobile...

  2. You can buy my car next! Surprisingly, it has not had a lot of problems. We had to replace the axle or sunthin once. And that squealing/creaking sound it makes in bad weather has been going on for years and never really gotten worse, so I'm sure you can ignore it. :)