Under the Hood

I was driving home. It was late and there was traffic and the rain was enough to need the windshield wipers turned on. As I idled at a red light I saw some smoke around the hood of my car but I chalked it up to exhaust from the station wagon in front of me. I drove some more and came to another red light. I noticed the smoke again but it was dark and I was tired and so I thought maybe it was just mist. Yeah! YEAH! It was mist. That’s it.

I came to another light and checked my dashboard. My car was running closer to hot than to cold and I thought, “SHIT. That isn’t mist.”

I made it home without my car blowing up thank goodness. In the morning Mr. Darcy and I used our limited knowledge of mechanics to add more oil (I was low) and water (low again). With fingers and toes crossed I made my way towards work and the mechanic located directly across the street. The entire 12 minute drive there I talked nicely and encouragingly to my car. I told her how good she was and how she couldn’t quit on me now. We had so many more years and adventures ahead, I pleaded.

It needs to be said- I love my car. She’s been so good to me in the seven-ish years I have owned her. I’ve never really had any major work done on her except routine check ups. She’s been reliable and trustworthy. And just a few months ago I finally paid her off so she is mine, all mine.

I pulled into the mechanic’s parking lot with the car running very, very hot and frankly, I was losing my cool too.

I was walking up to the office when a mechanic walked out from the garage and asked if I need an oil change.

“Not exactly. My car is running really hot and I think it needs a check up. Do you guys do that?”

“Nah, we mainly do oil changes. What seems to be the problem?” As he walked up to me, he looked me up and down.

“Well, when I drive the gauge goes to the middle but when I idle it shoots up to hot. The warning light hasn’t come on yet but last night I thought I saw steam or smoke coming from under the hood.”

“Ahh, that sounds like your thermometer. I’ve seen that before.” He gives me a sly look.

“I used to take my car to Midas,” I said motioning across the lot to the vacant building. “Do you know anyone nearby? I probably shouldn’t drive it much, right?”

“Yeah you don’t want to drive it more than you have to. Down the road about a mile is a place called Triple B. We take all our cars there. They are good. They can take you today I bet. You tell him Jeremiah sent you.”

Sticking out my hand I said, “Thank you so much, Jeremiah. I’m Sizzle.* I really appreciate it.”

“Sizzle? That’s a beautiful name,” he gives me a penetrating look and holds onto my hand longer than a friendly handshake requires. “You tell them Jeremiah sent you. That you’re a loyal customer of mine. They’ll treat you right. Shouldn’t be more than $20 part sounds like.”

“Don’t tease me, Jeremiah. I’ve never gotten away with such a cheap fix from a mechanic!”

“Aw, he’ll take good care of you. And you come back here and tell me how it went.” Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

“I’ll definitely come to you guys for my next oil change. Thanks so much!” And I walk off towards my car feeling his eyes on me.

Do you think they charge extra for the flirting at that establishment?

I made it to the other shop and when the mechanic looked under my hood he cried out to me, “HOW LONG YOU BEEN DRIVING IT LIKE THIS?!”

“Just since last night! I promise! I didn’t notice it running hot or the steam until late last night.” I am sheepish and probably blushing. I don’t think he believed me. I started to doubt my finely tuned attention to detail.

“Your radiator is busted. Need a new one.”

“How much will that cost?” I wondered trepidatiously.

“About $200 plus have to flush the coolant and change the oil. Run you about . . . $369,” he shot off matter of factly.

OUCH.

Sighing heavily I said,“Alright, let’s do it.”

Six hours later and $400 later, I have my car back.  I was driving back to the office with the car heater on when I realized that the car heated up quickly. As in, I turned the heater on and within seconds my toes were toasty. I had been complaining for about a month that my car would take 15 minutes to actually get warm. I  know very little about cars but maybe if I’d gotten that problem checked I wouldn’t have had steam coming out from under my hood?

Oops.

I am grateful I have the means to afford a sudden bill like this. That I have a boyfriend who will get up early to look under my hood (not a euphemism). That I have a car that is reliable (Honda CRVs are awesome!). And that my car now gets warm in under a minute, not under 15.

*I used my real name, of course.

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16 thoughts on “Under the Hood

  1. A Honda CRV? You mind telling me the year too?
    You see, I am going to HAVE TO replace my 16 year old Jeep very soon and I want something that will be just as reliable.
    -K

  2. Ah, car stuff. I’m grateful I can afford to break things when they fix and I’m VERY grateful my husband jumps at the chance to fix things in my car when they break. Yes, I married someone who can fix both cars and computers. I am quite spoiled.

  3. Hee hee. I’m so happy to live without the bane of car ownership. The fella had to take his car in last week to get new brakes b/c they were “squeaky”. They all had to be replaced. I was like, oh dear god I am glad you got this fixed because hey, *I* could have died!!

  4. When I started having money in the bank to be able to pay for emergencies like that, I felt really great about myself. Now, if only I weren’t still paying off that debt from the days when I couldn’t. =(

  5. I had a Pontiac Grand Am that we drove to the ground. I loved that car. When I wasn’t driving it, my ex husband was using it to commute to and from work (he’s a construction worker, so you can imagine THAT abuse). We rarely had work done on it, and rarely ever even changed the oil. We had that car for 7 years. I laughed when you talked about talking to your car, because I did that all the time with that one towards the end- Gently coaxing it into getting me to the next spot with no issues.

    When she died, she died quick and painlesssly. And cost me $500 to tow. LOL I bet if I had been more apt to do (or have done, rather) the maintenance on her, she would probably still be running!

  6. I think Jeremiah wanted to change your oil, if ya know what I mean… 😉

    I love that you talked nicely to the car as you were driving it to the shop. I totally did that with my broken refrigerator last week and then I kissed the new one and talked to it after it got installed yesterday.

  7. So, if you are happy with the mechanic, that’s great.
    If you still want to shop around for a mechanic, cartalk.com has a great resource – “find a mechanic”. I found this guy who never charged me more than $100. Until the last time, when I needed a new transmission…

  8. Ha ha. I love the hood comment 😉 And that the guy was totally flirting with you!

    I have about 1000 in car repair to pay. Happy for that income tax return!

  9. Mechanics are such flirts, aren’t they? I hate walking past them on my own cos you can just feel all their eyes tracking you!

    I’m glad you were able to get the car fixed. We were screwed over with our last one and we were so glad to bin it at the beginning of the year. Our new car is much better 🙂

  10. I once drove nearly a month without knowing my transmission was shot to hell. Who knows these things when they don’t teach this to you in high school or college????

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