Is Your Car Maintenance on Your Calendar?
Attention mechanics: DO NOT read this blog. At best it’ll disgust you, but at worst, it could make you sick!
I’m a self-confessed car abuser and I’m not proud of it, it’s just the way it is. I’ve abused every car I’ve ever owned. My organizing skills have kept my cars clean on the outside and on the interior, but when it comes to taking care of what’s under the hood, it's out of sight, out of mind, and the skills are nonexistent. I know I’m irresponsible in this area and I'm doing better with our new car which is a Ford Fusion. My friend Steve said, every time he gets his tires rotated and balanced, he gets his oil changed the same day. I'm at least doing that with this new car, thanks to Steve.
Before this car, I'd wait until something happened and then I'd head for repair. I know the “ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure,” deal, but I’ve never minded that proverb when it comes to automobiles and I've paid dearly.
Once I thought seriously about marrying a master mechanic, but I just couldn’t get past the permanent grease stains under his nails, so I married someone as mechanically challenged as I am. Have you ever noticed it costs more for a plumber, electrician or mechanic, if an inept person has taken a shot at a fix? In the 28 years Terry and I have been married, the rap sheet on mechanical abuse runs long. We probably could be retired by now if we’d have been more mechanically adept or hired the professional first.
The highlights of my abuse began with a brand new Chrysler called a Sundance. Now the Sundance was a worthless car in the first place. (Driving it out of the dealership, I went to roll the window down and the handle came off in my hand. Just an omen, because anything that could go wrong with that car, did and it wasn't entirely my fault.) I still could have taken better care of her.
Two years into ownership, I was stopped at a red traffic light with a car on my left in the left-turn lane. Black smoke began encircling our cars as we waited for the light to change. I looked over at the car beside me and noted it was a real junker and I thought, ‘Get off the road, you polluting piece of junk.’ Then his light turned green and he took a left and left me engulfed in the smoke. It was my car that was smoking! My light turned green and as I drove through the intersection, I heard a sound like a Costco-sized can of Chili blew up under the hood. I’d blown my first rod! Okay, in the two years I owned the car I had never changed its oil.
I think I traded what was left of the Sundance on a new Mazda. With the Mazda, I took lessons they offered free to new owners on how to take good care of your purchase. There's a lot to do! I didn’t mind.
Our next car was a Cadillac. We were coming up in the world and I vowed to be better. The Caddy had a big computer that I swear made the car seem like a person. She'd let us know when she was hungry, thirsty, needed an oil change, more coolant etc. Trouble was, she was a real hypochondriac. A good example; one morning her engine light came on informing me that something was wrong with her engine and I needed to get her in immediately! $119 later, it turned out the only thing wrong with her was that the engine light was faulty!
The Cadillac was born in 1998 and we had her until she was 105 in car years (same as dogs). We called her The Old Lady. She'd moan when I started her up in the morning if the temperature in the garage was below 45 degrees. I rammed into another car a couple years before we sold her to a mechanic, and put a big hole in her rear bumper. When I went to get it fixed, I was informed it would cost more than the old lady was worth, so I just put a bumper sticker over the hole.
The Old Lady is gone now and when I occasionally see her make and model on the road, I cringe at the abuse I perpetrated on her. It makes me want to do better. Following Steve's advice, I went in to have my tires checked and balanced and discovered someone had replaced my brand new back tires with two tires with no tread! (The guy said it had to have happened when I was parked somewhere in the dark. (That'd be on Wednesdays when I'm parked in the church parking lot.) From the tire place, with brand new tires, I went to the oil guy and got my oil changed just like Steve does.
Maintenance and repair are spendy, but not as much as throwing a rod or skidding off the road with balled tires. Be organized and make sure to get car maintenance on your calendar. If you're using the 3x5 get organized system Peggy and I developed, make out a reminder card to check the mileage and the next oil change and keep it in the file so you'll see it at least every-other-month. Make an annual appointment with your mechanic on the same day you have a physical with your doctor, so both bodies get checked out.
P.S. Here's a blog to get your mind thinking about making a choice to be organized. Just tap on the sunflowers in my kitchen window.