3:35 p.m. - November 28, 2005
After about 10 years of almost perfect luck with my cars, I do believe that this morning the starter of my Honda CR-V gave up the ghost.
I went outside in the misty, cool rain turned the key and heard this faint “grrrrrr” noise.
I had noticed that the inside dome light was on, so I thought I needed a jump. So I get the jumper cables from Liz’s car, hook them up, and….
The starter was laughing at me. “Your jumper cables are of no use for this problem. Mwahahahah!”
So I walked to work, then got on the horn to my auto repair place, and then called AAA to arrange to have it towed there. This afternoon I should know if my expert amateur diagnosis was correct.
(Actually, I think that’s about all I can diagnose on a car. Well, I know when the muffler is going bad, and the brakes. That and I damn well know when a clutch is going out. Other than that, all I can do is tell a mechanic that ‘it’s broken’ and sometimes I can’t even tell them WHAT’S broken. Once I needed a tuneup and I thought it was the transmission.)
It’s odd that I don’t know that much about how to fix cars, seeing that I looooove auto racing. I’m the kind of idiot that will watch the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 hours of LeMans because I love those types of cars. I watch every F-1 race, and almost every Champ Car and Indy Car race.
And I really wish I could have been a road racer. I suppose it’s not too late, but right now I don’t have the disposable income to go to driving school.
As I said, I’ve had great luck with my recent cars. Of course, though, I bought a great brand. I used to have a Honda Civic for a while, and then traded in that for a CR-V when I started making a commute through the country. I’ve had that car for five years, and it’s got over 120,000 miles on it.
But it’s run great through all kinds of weather. It’s been to Alaska, to Kansas and Oklahoma at least twice, up to Minneapolis, over to Iowa, to Pittsburgh, and all over the wilds of Indiana and Ohio.
Before then, though, I had a dog of a car. For whatever reason, in 1991, I traded in my Ford Escort GT (mind you, not a great car, but…) for a Hyundai Excel in an effort to lower my car payments.
That Excel, yeesh.
It needed constant tune ups. I had two clutches go bad on it. Plus, it felt like you had to Fred Flinstone the car to get it to go fast.
I was relieved when I hit a patch of ice early in 1995, and totaled it by hitting the back gate of a truck that had already hit a lightpole.
Yeah, that’s all it took. I smashed the right rear quarter panel, damaged the trunk and the rear wheels, and the insurance company said it was totaled.
(This all happened about six days after I got back from my honeymoon. That - now that was a pleasant phone call to make.)
Going back a bit, for about six months in 1991, I had a great car as a second car. I bought a baby blue 1971 Triumph Spitfire on the cheap. I had a group of guys who wanted to get their hands on it, so they helped me put in some new brakes, oil filters, and spark plugs.
I treated that car like a baby. I never went over 55, I made sure it was well taken care of, and basically, in a choice between absolute crazy girl I was semi-dating at the time (which will be a great essay) and the car, the car would have won. Hands down.
Great car, but unfortunately, I had to get rid of it when I moved to Indianapolis. That car wouldn’t have lasted more than a month in the parking lot of my apartment complex.
As luck turns out, I sold it to a professor here at the College, and he STILL has it, and I see it all the time in the summer.
Liz is a big help too, she always said, “Hey, I saw your old car being driven around today.”
I weep silently every time I see or hear about that car.
My FIRST car - that was a real hoot and a half. It was a 1976 Dodge Aspen station wagon, and if it was under 35 degrees it stalled every time you turned left. It had just an AM radio, so I drove around with a boom box for the most part.
Then I drove a Dodge Omni for a while. That’s not what you’d call a sexy car, especially not for a 21-year old male. Yeah, baby, cruising JustRite in the Rock-and-Roll Omni…who hoo!
Of course, they were all in one piece. Moose had a Ford Pinto wagon (Danger! Death Trap!) that had some of the floor boards rusted out so you could SEE the road as you were driving.
With the Civic, I had more bad luck, but it wasn’t the Civic’s fault. It went to the body shop on four separate occasions. Two of those were my fault due to snow and ice and crappy Indiana conditions, one time because some moron ran a red light and plowed into the front of my car, and the other time because some eeediot backed into me at a red light.
The guy who ran the light was a pip. He immediately got out of the car and offered me money not to call the cops. Too bad. There was a witness as well. Turns out he had given me bogus insurance information, and my insurance company had to go after him, I believe.
The other time I was sitting at a light after playing softball. This guy in front of me realizes he’s a bit out into the intersection and starts backing up. All the while, I’m going, “he’s not going to see me…” and honked my horn and flashed my lights. Oops.
But the Cr-V has stayed out of the body shop, and for the most part out of the repair shop, except for basic maintenance.
And if it’s just a starter that’s wrong, I’m not too terribly worried. Those things happen.
Knock on wood, formica, and all of the other things on my office…