Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Car Memories

I think you'd have to be living in a cave not to know what has been going on in the auto industry lately. I guess that's why my mind has been wandering in the past and thinking about our old cars. I have the ability to form a sentimental attachment to a rock, so you can imagine how I've felt about some of my cars. My first one was a 1974 Buick Le Sabre. As soon as Daddy changed the oil in it for the first time, the engine blew. He wanted to 'take care' of the car in a manner that would not be looked upon favorably by the insurance company. Mom wouldn't let him and eventually the engine was rebuilt. If I had to stop during the first couple of miles after starting the engine, it would stall. That's not much of a problem in the country when stop signs are sometimes a suggestion, but in the city, it can land you in some hot water. It only had an AM radio, but the air conditioner was so cold, you could hang meat as if you were in a walk-in cooler. One day going down the Interstate, the back seat caught on fire. Did you know hubcaps can be used to carry water from a ditch during such an emergency? Do cars even have hubcaps anymore? I loved that car.

My next car was a Buick Skylark. Daddy gave it to me because it had belonged to my Grandmother and had been in the family. He felt it would be much better than buying something from a stranger not knowing the history of the car. The heater immediately stopped working. On another Interstate trip, the pipe to the muffler broke in half. Some very nice men tied it up for me until I could make it back home. The steering column had to be rebuilt twice. I stopped repairing it after that and got used to it moving when I applied the brakes hard. I tried not to use the brakes often. Of course, the transmission had to be re-built. The headlight switch stripped, so I had wires hanging down from it. I had to re-connect them to turn the lights on at night. One very late night, a hose to the radiator burst. I immediately pulled off the road and began trying to figure out how to open the hood. In my defense, it always was tricky to open. A couple more nice men helped me by filling the radiator with water and directing me to an 'all-night' garage. They even told me what was wrong and if the garage tried to charge me more than $15 to come back and they'd fix it for me. I don't think you can find an 'all-night' garage anymore. Nowadays we're taught to remain in the car and wait for roadside service for safety. It had an AM/FM radio. I miss those old days, but I don't really miss that car.

I had a Chevy Celebrity. It was the first car that I bought in my name and Daddy made me 'haggle' with the dealer on my own. It had a vinyl top that was a pain to keep clean. One day I looked out the front door and saw our bulldog standing on the roof of my car. I like to think the chased a cat up there and it was a one-time accident. I really loved that car, but it had a habit of stalling at stop signs. I never could get anyone to fix it properly so I eventually bought a Pontiac Sunbird. The headlight switch was on the upper left side of the dash. Several nights in a row I'd look out and see my headlights on and wonder how I could have forgotten to turn them off. I finally figured it out one day when I saw our cat climbing thru the open window. He would put his feet on the dash as he climbed thru and turn on the headlights. Car manufacturers should warn you about stuff like that. I learned to keep the windows rolled up, but eventually I had engine trouble with that car too. So, I traded up to a Nissan Maxima.

Now, I absolutely LOVED my Maxima. When I bought it, friends told me that all I had to do was keep the oil changed and the engine/transmission would last forever. I never had any engine or transmission problems with that car. I did replace the front, rear and one side of the car in different accidents. I had so many deer hit the car that I considered getting a hunting license. And they hit me, I did not hit them. Two of them plowed into the side of the car when I was driving down the road. The car saved me from severe injury when I tested the 'crumple zone' in two separate accidents. In my defense, some people hit me so it wasn't always my fault. It had a fancy CD player in the trunk. That came in handy when the automatic antenna broke off and I couldn't pick up any radio stations unless I was in their parking lot. I was usually the only one in the car and only used the driver's side window. The motors on the other three windows went out. Did you know that when a motor on an automatic window goes out, the window won't stay up at all? It was the only car that I knew of the axle breaking for no apparent reason. The final straw was when the passenger side door lock broke. I would have been fine if it had stayed 'unlocked', but it would only stay in the 'locked' position. Anyone that wanted to ride with me had to climb in the back seat. I am not a chauffeur. I cried when I traded that car.

All of that brings me to my current car which I still love even though its closer to 200,000 miles than 100,000 miles. It still looks good for its age though. The CD player no longer works, but the radio does. There's a short in the air conditioning system that I've tried to have fixed multiple times. So, it's like playing Russian Roulette when you turn on the AC or heat. I already dread the day that I'll trade it in for something shiny and new. When that day comes, I just hope I can find a dealership!

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