6.06.2012

Aye Car-umba!

I don't drive very often. I prefer to live in a place where I can walk or take the bus to where I need to go. However, sometimes it's a necessary evil. When I say evil, I say this because I have not had the best luck with cars. This may be due to the fact that I usually have an older car. Since I don't want to spend money to buy a new car, instead I spend money fixing an old one. I guess you have to choose and this is what I have chosen.

I am talking about this because my car broke down on Monday. I probably use my car once a week, usually to meet up with my friend for a walk (she lives about 45 minutes from me, so we tend to meet somewhere in the middle). I know this is ironic, driving somewhere to get exercise, but sometimes it's fun to try new places where the bus can't go. This time, however, I was on my way back to Oakland to pick up some stuff to take to Santa Cruz. After a stop along the way, I was getting back on the freeway and it just sputtered and died (on the on ramp). So I called AAA. I am getting to be pretty good at dealing with breakdowns, as I have had several over the years, some better than others.

Mid 90s: I get my first car. It's old. The starter stops working, but luckily if I park on a hill, I can pop the clutch. This leads to my profound knowledge of every hill/slant/bump in my hometown. When there is no hill, my friends help me push my very heavy car far enough to pop the clutch. This leads to me not having any more friends. I start leaving the car running when I go into stores (yes, you can do this in my hometown). I finally end up taking out the starter myself THREE times and having it re-lathed three times. This is quite costly, even though I have done the work myself. Finally we find out that the part that was needed was a tiny piece near the starter that costs mere dollars.

Late 90s, same car: I am driving to my friend's house for NYE and I break down on the Sacramento causeway due to overheating. This was when I didn't have a cell phone. Several people call 911 because they think I am on fire. Thank goodness they do, because I have the firemen call me a tow truck.

Mid 2000s: A different car. Still old. I am commuting from Sacramento to San Francisco and the car decides to call it quits on the Bay Bridge right AT the toll booth. People are honking and giving me the finger. On the plus side, the tow truck comes VERY fast. Also I save $5 on bridge tolls.

Present Day: About a month ago, I went to use the car for my once a week jaunt and it wouldn't start. I know a couple of things about cars, mostly that (a) it was not a problem with the battery, (b) it was not a problem with the starter and (c) I was not out of gas. As soon as the AAA guy comes, he asks me if the car is out of gas. I wonder if some people are unsure of the answer, because the guy that came to get me on Monday asked the same question. 

One of my many friends

Basically from 2000 to present day, I have made do with public transportation, my feet and a rental car for work. So I haven't had any problems. Now I am back to having a car and back to having problems. I am on a first name basis with the mechanic, who is actually awesome. I also am very adept at making small talk with tow truck drivers, since I often have to ride with them to the mechanic. Monday's driver was a very nice man and it was a pleasure to spend 45 minutes hanging out with him. However, I have already used 2 out of 3 of my allotted AAA calls, so I am hoping to get the problem resolved quickly and to not have it happen again! Every time I break down, I am trying to get somewhere! (ha)  

Do you often have car trouble? Have you ever tried to fix your own car? Have you ever ridden in the tow truck with the driver?

20 comments:

  1. I did have car troubles a few years ago. My car (Ernie, or Ernillious when he played up) was getting on in age but knowing I was moving to the UK, I didn't want to throw any money at a new one. In the last 6 months of having him, I had a couple of tows and a few things go wrong. Not ideal but luckily all the breakdowns were in safe places (ie. not in the middle of intersections etc). I don't have a car in the UK but I guess it's something to look forward to when I move back to Australia

    ReplyDelete
  2. Car troubles are the worst, so much of a pain. I'm lucky in that I've never really had too many problems though. My Dad always gets Hondas and seems to have passed that on to me, seems to be working!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Car troubles, suck. I feel like I am jinxing myself by saying this, but I have never broke down! I have gotten plenty of flat tires, though. I really should have a AAA membership because I am totally helpless when it comes to cars. And I usually cry when something goes wrong and then call my dad (as I said in my tweet). Car stuff just makes me feel really alone and helpless and incapable!

    I would love to live in an area where I didn't need a car at all - like NYC. But I love Minneapolis. So I will stay here. I have a pretty dependable car, but it's getting up to that 150,000 mileage point, so I know I will have to replace it eventually... but probably not soon since I barely drive, too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, bummer! My first car was a total lemon and would break down every 1200 miles. Since then I've had better luck - if you exclude the time a few years ago when my parked car getting totaled on my street when a drunk girl smashed into it and a few other problems. I'm afraid that I'll jinx myself, though, and end up totally screwed on my cross-country move. Praying that doesn't happen.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ugh, I hate car trouble! I had my fair share over the years. :) We stick with used cars too (it just make so much sense!)- our current car is only a few years old and no problems so far... I definitely prefer walking or biking around when possible!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I also hate the fact that we have to drive cars. I won't spend much on my car, preferring older cars with advanced mileage. The right car that is mechanically sound will still last for a bit. I only put about 5000 miles a year on my car anyway. But I still hate them all the way around. SUV's are the root cause of all that's evil and wrong in the world today, and they are only driven by assholes. yet americans think giant cars are their right, or they drive by weight for safety. it's just terrible.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm sorry that happened. Not fun! Lucky for me, my husband used to be a mechanic so he can fix just about anything (that's why I married him:) The most I have had to deal with was a flat tire and once I even changed it by myself! Impressive? Hope your car troubles are over:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh my goodness! You've had some ordeals. Crazy. The car I drive now is the only newish car I've ever had. All my past cars have been at least ten years or more old. When I was learning to drive a stick I used to kill it in intersections all the time. Not the same as breaking down in inconvenient places but still pretty embarrassing. This is one of the reasons I want to move closer to the city so I can take advantage of public transportation and ride my bike everywhere!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Car issues is the one thing that freaks me out. Probably because years ago, I was driving a 10-year old vehicle that stalled on the highway (thankfully, I was able to maneuver it over to the shoulder). The Dept of Transportation vehicle pulled over and flagged a tow truck driver who towed my car into the city. The whole way, he was giving me a sob story about his family. When we got to the shop, the mechanic LIT into the tow truck driver. I paid the driver his fee (holy shit, that was expensive) and later learned from the mechanic the tow truck guy hosed me. I also learned the DOT guys are in cahoots with the tow truck drivers and I should always wait for the AAA tow truck.

    So, I'd much rather have a new car that doesn't give me problems. Pretty ironic, given the vehicle I now drive is 15 years old. hahaha.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love how you can remember all of the places and times that you have broken down! I broke down on my commute to university (it was an hour away), but luckily that was the only time so far.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I really need to live in a more walkeable city with how much I hate driving. It's a necessary evil for where I live but I would much prefer to be able to walk or ride the bus to places! Our transit system in Florida is a mess.

    As for me, dealing with car troubles was normal growing up. I developed some car anxiety because of it (imagine being a kid and your car breaks down on a busy road and there's nobody to help you!!) so anytime something funky happens when I'm driving, it freaks me out. lol. I need to marry a mechanic, I think. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  12. HA right now I have a couple warning lights on my car. I need to get it to the dealership to get fixed and possibly screwed outa some major funds. One is the airbag system which I suppose is important. lol

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow, that is a lot of car trouble. I've only had a few cars, I get them new and run them into the ground. I just got a new car 3 months ago. It's such a huge decision and I hate having a car payment after not having one for so long. But, having a new car is so nice.

    I know nothing about fixing cars.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I was a dedicated transit and/or walk commuter for a decade. Then Hubby "made me move" to a place with no mass transit. (Boo!) So now I work from home, but grocery-shopping and my teaching job both require getting in the car. I. HATE. IT.

    Fortunately we won't be here forever, and transit-friendly cities are in our future. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ugh, honestly I hate cars when they break down... I mean, isn't that what all the warning lights are for? That you don't get stranded with it, but can take it to a auto shop in time?

    ReplyDelete
  16. You seem to cycled through several cars in such very short time. But I noticed that they’re most old ones. When you purchase a car, especially the secondhand ones, it pays to inspect the car thoroughly. One part that you really have to take a look at is the engine. Sometimes, you think that you bought the best car in the world for a dime, until it suddenly breaks down in the middle of the road. It also helps if you take note of those troubles that you have encountered with your old cars, so you know what to look out for.

    Nannette Henriquez

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh well, I guess everything leads to a trade-off. Still, times shouldn't be tough for car ownership. I feel a lasting repair should do, to stamp out all those unwanted quirks of malfunction. Hope you've got everything figured out by now. Good luck!

    Jaime Mcgee @ Michael’s Auto Body and Glass

    ReplyDelete
  19. I agree with Nannette. Having your car's engine checked at an auto shop would be advisable, because you can address all possible problems or difficulties that the car might have, rather than responding to the symptoms. You might also want to learn some basic car troubleshooting, as that could be quite helpful if your car stalls in the middle of the trip, and you have the knowhow to fix it on the spot.

    Cayla Maggio @ Nowthen Transmission

    ReplyDelete
  20. With Car Rental 8 you can find cheap rental cars at over 50000 international locations.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!