I own the car from hell!! That’s at least what my mechanic calls it. When I bought it used – about two years ago, it had only 30,000 miles on it; a good deal. I told the broker what I wanted, he got it for me and graciously added a red pin-strip along the side.
We had to have reliable transportation, as at the time I was making twice a month trips to Roseau in the dead of winter. The 77 Volare Wagon which we purchased new was showing some wear. The engine in the old Plymouth was great, but it was the exhaust coming through rusted floorboards that created a health hazard. We didn’t need hydrocarbons giving us more brain damage. A couple of close encounters with inattentive drivers had also made it possible to have air conditioning. The car did not come equipped with it.
It’s never been anything major, but it seems like the technology started to fail after 80,000 miles. Take for instance the two-way swinging back hatch door. This is a very complex piece of machinery, but it should be able to hang together. The electric window rolls up and down – a nice touch – convenient, until it got off its’ track after being “fixed,” because the back door wouldn’t lock. So I took off the back panel, set it back in place and pressed the toggle switch on the dash and watched it roll up – worked fine. I slammed the door shut and it broke – $200 dollars. I didn’t feel quite so inadequate when the guys at the glass shop busted another one putting it in. At least they didn’t cry when it shattered
Then there was the tendency of the car to idle at different speeds for no apparent reason. I took it to one mechanic who said, “That’s the way they make em.” Another said, “What did you expect from a ——-.” I finally found that if I shook some wires next to the fire wall it would settle down. I had also thought about burning incense, magical incantations, or human sacrifice when my kids got out of line.
Recently my insurance company has been looking a little cross-eyed at me. Once a week it seems, it’s being towed to the mechanic. One of my smart-aleck neighbors said, “Why don’t you just leave it there and call them to ask if you can use it?”
If I could, I’d dump it or leave it one a side street by the college on a Saturday night in the hopes that an overenthusiastic imbiber would bump it into oblivion. The prospect of two car payments and the need for two vehicles to provide transportation for a busy family precludes that. Some car salesmen economists say that if you’re putting in on a regular basis what a car is worth in repairs, you might as well buy a new one. They seem to forget, 20% of $16,000 is still a chunk of money.
When I can do my own maintenance, I like to. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. Recently. one Sunday after church, I thought I’d do a “quick” oil change. Well, the oil filter was welded to the engine block and required the car be jacked up before getting it off, a transmission line was leaking, the fan belt was about ready to disintegrate and antifreeze was disappearing, somewhere. My little after church job took three hours. It was Sunday, I didn’t cuss, but I felt like it.