Limping along on 215,000 miles no small feat
My car is trying to tell me something, and I’m not so sure I want to listen.A few years back, I was driving up and down a roller coaster of hills in Utah when my “Check Engine” light went on.I’d been told that when that happens you should pull over immediately and call your mechanic, even if he’s four time zones away. He will then tell you there’s nothing you can do except wait until he gets back from vacation. Then you will have to wait three weeks for the part.But I’m fairly handy with cars, so when the little light went on, I pulled over, cut the engine, popped the hood of the car and did what any other auto owner would do. I checked the engine. Yup! Still there! I must have done something right because the little red light was no longer on.Who said car repair was difficult!But my car has come many, many miles since that day, and last week, my mechanic gave it an official death sentence of six to eight minutes. My faithful Subaru has developed an oil leak, one so bad that I don’t even bother adding oil to the engine anymore. I just pour it on the ground.
I didn’t realize how bad it was until I drove to Glenwood Springs last weekend. After pulling into a parking spot, my daughter noticed a long trail of fluid behind the car. I looked under the engine, where a small black pool was growing ever larger. The engine was smoking. The parking lot attendant summoned the fire department.I am officially an eco-hazard.Now I’m trying to nurse my poor car along – mostly by pouring oil on the ground – until I can afford a new car.This won’t be easy. There’s the ever present lack of money issue to address. I’ve narrowed my search down to three types of vehicles: a Toyota pickup truck, another Subaru or something I can actually afford.And like many Americans, I’m not keen on dealing with car dealers. I have found over the years that because I’m not male, I’m apparently invisible.
Because I’m not male, there is an assumption that I don’t know the difference between my car’s differential and the door locks. Despite this, many of them – I guarantee it – will call me, begging to let them give me their undivided attention, after reading this column.In the meantime, my car is reaching the end of its patience with me.The Check Engine light became a permanent lighted fixture on my dashboard long ago, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix with a strip of electrical tape. But now other lights are coming on periodically, warning me of my car’s impending doom.The first was a little genie bottle. My friends say, “No, it’s more like the oil can the Tin Man hauled around in The Wizard of Oz.””Hint, hint, Jane,” my friends say. “Oil. You have an oil problem.”That’s what my mechanic said, I reminded them. But I’m sure I can fix the oil can problem with a strip of electrical tape.
A couple of days ago, a new one came on: “Time to buy a new vehicle!”Yeah, whatever. I’m not one to succumb to cheap advertisements.A few days later, another light went on, advertising some of the better deals on used cars. It even listed current interest rates.My car is trying to tell me something.I am not listening. I am in denial.And until my car decides to tell me something really useful – grinding to a dead halt comes to mind – I plan to keep pouring oil on the ground to keep it happy. Either that or strap up that oil leak with a bunch of electrical tape.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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