My Car.

I like to think of myself as a Renaissance woman. I know how to make doughnuts, I can install drywall, je parle un petit peu du francais.  But there are a few things in life that leave me stumped.  How to knit, for instance.  How to dive without belly-flopping.  And CARS.  I know how to drive.  I can parallel park,  I know where the gas goes.  I can check my oil and if truly hard-pressed I might be able to change a tire.  But when it comes to the inner workings of an automobile, forget it.

It doesn’t help that cars nowadays are computers.  I can’t fix my computer either, but I married an IT guy who sure can.  My husband also can build and fix cars — but of the VW 70s variety, not these newfangled shiny whatsits you have to hook up to electronics to diagnose.  Don’t get me wrong, my husband can fix A LOT of what goes wrong with our vehicles.  But I think we’ve reached a point with Lil Blackie where professional resuscitation is in order.

This is my car. A 2001 Subaru Forester just shy of 159,000 miles. Lil Blackie.

My car has been taking up a lot of my psychological time the past week b/c my car’s ‘Check Engine’ light has come on.  Although it passed inspection last year, it’s been leaking oil – as evidenced by the pretty rainbow in our driveway – and when I last drove it it smelled downright BAD.

Two days ago I forgot about the ‘Check Engine’ light being on.  I got in and started it up, I made my way down the street to the store (I had to buy a shallot) but I realized about 2 blocks from the house something was amiss.  The light, for one was alerting me, as was the heavyish white smoke billowing out the tailpipe.  I turned right around and came home & the car’s been parked ever since.

I forget the technical term for what’s wrong, my husband said it’s got a leak from the oil to the something and it’s bad.  Like in the thousands to repair, bad.  Part of me wants to just say SCREW IT and keep driving Lil Blackie till he won’t drive no more.  Part of me knows how foolish this is; the car could break down and have to be towed – which will cost additional $$$ AND leave me stranded somewhere – but I am a rebel.  For the time being, I am leaving the car parked.  If I need to get somewhere I can hoof it.  But what worries me is the longer term.

What to do about this car??  We can’t afford big bucks to get it fixed.  No one’s gonna want to BUY IT w/a major malfunction.  And as generous as I am or pretend to be, that’s a mighty big donation for a single-income family to make.

The only good news?  We have another car, so my husband will be able to get to work.  Don’t laugh – I am serious.  Before we bought this house we only had Lil Blackie, and if we were still in that position we’d be seriously sh!t outta luck.  As I am home full time I can make do w/out a car, we’re okay for the time being.  But my husband is starting to poke fun of the ‘leaky tanker’ out in the driveway and I worry that it’s not environmentally sound.  Next comment I will simply retort that it could be up on cinder blocks rusting in the side yard.  Hmmm… Perhaps a solution has been found.

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31 thoughts on “My Car.

  1. Lil Blackie is the most racist name for a car ever. Nice!

    Obviously I believe a vintage Yugo should be your next set o’ wheels. Both because it’s awesome and because your husband could totally fix anything that should–and we both know WILL–go wrong with it.

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    1. Poor Lil Blackie, I didn’t realize I was being a car racist. I used to have a Big Red (a Ford Fairmont) and a Jeepie who was white. Perhaps I’m not racist but just lacking in creativity?

      Had to lauugh at your Yugo comment. DO they even sell vintage ones anymore – ARE there vintage ones anymore?! Questions, questions..

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  2. I’m very sorry to hear that, Dishy – not cool!
    Cars always worry me (probably because I know so little about them). Even if everything seems to be running okay I always wonder when something is going to explode, how much it will cost, and where/how I’ll get it fixed.
    It’s funny, my dad knows all about that sort of thing, too – he always tells me all this technical ‘stuff’, and all I can do is smile and nod like an idiot, because in reality, I don’t have the first clue what he’s talking about. Oh, well.
    🙂

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    1. Oh I’m w/ you – check out the thread on my FB page, I have friends offering advice re: specifics, they lost me at head gaskets..

      Seriously, car talk is Greek to me. (and no I’m not being racist – KATIE)

      LOL!

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  3. We were recently in the same position with our Neon: costs to repair were far greater than its worth. We did end up donating it though. So for a house of seven people we have one minivan and a motorcycle; fortunately my husband is brave/bold/crazy enough to ride in all but the worst weather!

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    1. God bless him. My husband said he’ll just ride his bike this summer (the foot propelled kind) – his work is only 10 mins away by car and he rode last yr. I think he’s concerned I’ll go nuts this summer w/ the girls home and no wheels. I’m not too worried, really, we’ve made due w/out driving before. And I have my push shopping cart if push comes to shove (these Maine-uhs can think I’m homeless, I don’t care!)

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  4. I have a simple rule with cars. When they cost money to fix, euthanasia is the only course of action. When my Proton finally wore out I didn’t fix a thing: I just called in the scrap dealer.

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  5. Yeah, it sounds like the head gasket is blown which is a pretty expensive repair. All the stuff on the top of the engine has to come off down to the block. Buy a good manual for your husband and encourage him to fix it for you.

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    1. Hey Binky – thanks. My husband said it’s a rear main seal leak, unfortunately far beyond his ability to fix, as it’ll entail removing the engine and or transmission. Both $$$ pricey endeavors. SIGH…

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  6. I am so done with the two car thing which is why we share one car and use the bus/bike. It works out pretty well for us but then we are in a semi-suburban setting. When I run the numbers on how much cars cost – purchase price, taxes, maintenance, seriouser issues, insurance – it really begins to annoy me that we have built a society where you can’t be mobile without one unless you are in a major city.

    Plus there is always the nagging feeling that the mechanic is somehow screwing you over unless you are my old mechanic, Gill (he is AMAZING), or my new mechanic who is less amazing but still honest.

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    1. UGH. I too have found out the hard way what ignoring a ‘check engine’ light means. I blew out the transmission on my first car, no way I’m gonna do that again. We have a great mechanic here in Portland, very honest – but even honest men have to make a living and this is one repair that may be too much to bear.. I’ll keep you posted.

      XO

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  7. Nice car. My father in law has a Forrester & I really like it. I had a car once that had the check engine light permanently on. It was checked by a mechanic a couple of times & he said there was nothing wrong. I thought it was obvious that it had a faulty check engine light…

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  8. I personally LOVE that car. The seats are so comfortable, and also they are squishy…. I don’t know what is WRONG with the car, but I can give you some advice, leave it in the driveway.

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  9. It would make a grand landscaping feature in your garden. Leave the windows down and soon you’ll have all sorts of flora and fauna growing inside and out! Voila!

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  10. you’re in luck! we have a spare car that might be just what you’re looking for– a vintage hearse that would look LOVELY in your driveway. and just think of the storage potential! you can bring home 25 cubic feet of stuff from the grocery store or home depot. it gets 10 miles to the gallon and is a real attention getter on the road.

    let me know what you think.

    ps. don’t tell ant about this idea of mine.

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  11. We’ve been there with those unexpected car repairs, but in the end, a one-time expense beats having a regular car payment and increased taxes (at least in NC) for a newer vehicle. Now is the time to play your state’s lottery. LOL

    I am the one who makes sure the oil gets changed and the tires rotated in both our vehicles. Why is that?

    I like to consider myself a Renaissance woman, too. I’ve tried knitting, but I can’t sit still long enough. I think of all the things I could be spending my time on, like blogging.

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  12. Aw, sorry about your black ride. I had a sweet blue Grand AM that carried me through high school, college and the first years of married life… until WHAM, deer. But that was a clear cut problem; not much fixing on a car worth about 500 bucks. I am now so appreciative of our small town mechanic, a great man in his trade with a daughter who is my good friend. There is no wondering if we will be taken, in that sense. Do you have that where you live?

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    1. I can SO picture you in that honey of a ride!

      Yes, we have a very honest, good mechanic here – reasonable too – but the car is leaking really badly. It does feel like this may be the end of Lil Blackie. I hope not, though.

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  13. So sorry to hear! Sounds like you’ve got both short term & long term strategy…biking and car sharing now, saving and deciding about fixing or buying in future. Subarus are notoriously long lasting vehicles, so my suggestion is to repair for another decade or more of use. (particularly with regular maintenance)

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    1. Thanks Tammy – and I agree, if well maintained, a subaru should last & last. As for mine, this weekend I re-upped the leaky fluids, did a couple test runs and so far so good. No more smoking thankfully. Going to get the car diagnosed and see what the deal is.

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  14. I feel your pain. My first car in America was a very old Jetta that supposedly a gift from an in-law who asked me $900 for it. I was naive and stupid then. I thought I was lucky until it started to malfunction. One time, I put the stick shift to first gear and it want reverse on a busy highway. My first car traumatized me! I got rid of it 3 months after and although I was financially struggling at that time, it was eventually a wise and sound decision . You can’t buy life and it’s better to be safe than sorry. I hope you’ll be able to find a safe and dependable car soon. God has his ways in blessing those people with a good heart .

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    1. Thank you so much, IT. Lil Blackie was diagnosed today and he’s going to need major work – a new head gasket (to the tune of 1500$$) – not sure a car w/ this many miles will be worth the investment. Time to weigh options..

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