Thursday, May 5, 2011

Automobile diagnosis routines

My car is about to roll over to the 100,000 mile mark.  I watch the odometer incessantly in case I miss the historic moment.  I plan on photographing it as well, even if I am speeding down the interstate.  That should go over well.
Along with its 100,000 miles of road underneath it, my car is starting to show its age.  I have whined already about the high cost of car maintenance (tires, timing belt, thingy that makes heat in the winter, etc.).  But things keep breaking on it.
My first car was a 1987 Ford Mustang (jealous?  Hmmm, neither was anyone else at the time).  Each time this fabulous machine developed a new noise, I would just turn up the radio.  If I couldn’t hear it, it wasn’t there.  The only way I would get something fixed was if it quit running (unfortunately this was not an uncommon occurrence).  I have grown a smidgen wiser and now whenever a new noise develops, I panic and diagnose my car with same fervor I diagnose myself with cancer on a daily basis.
The other day I was driving down the interstate and I changed lanes.  My right turn signal went “tikka-tikka-tikka.”  I know you are thinking “who cares?” but I cared because it usually makes more of a “doinka-doinka-doinka” noise.  I immediately swerved back into the other lane as an excuse to use my left turn signal to see if it went doinka or tikka.  I heard doinka, so now I had to swerve back into the right lane so I could listen to the other signal again for comparison.  Envision this...a car speeding down the road weaving in and out of traffic and tailgating everyone with chrome bumpers (so I could see my turn signal before each lane swerve to make sure they were both blinking at the same intervals).   I could imagine how this conversation would go with the police officer:
“Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Nope.”  I always answer this way.
“You were speeding at well over the speed limit and driving erratically.  Have you been drinking?”
“(uncomfortable laughter) Oh, no officer.  My right turn signal was making a tikka-tikka-tikka sound and it usually goes doinka-doinka-doinka.  I was listening to my turn signals and I would look stupid if I was just driving in one lane with my turn signals going on and off.”
“Ma’am, I need you to step out of the car and take this breathalyzer test.”
Thankfully, I determined at the end of my highly safe experiment that my signals are both making doinka sounds.
Next the airbag sensor light wouldn’t turn off.  I frantically texted one of my friends (at a stoplight!  I was being safe!) to see what he thought of this newest car development.  He asks me if the horn is working.  So now I am driving down the road randomly testing the horn.  Drivers were swerving to avoid me as I honked my way down the street.  At the next stoplight (because I don’t text while driving) I texted him back to let him know the horn was working and that I only caused one car to leave the road.  His response?  “Good, because without an airbag you will need your horn.”  Too bad hand signals don’t convey through text messages. 
Luckily my airbag light magically went off and I am considering it a miracle healing. 
I wonder what I will have to diagnose next?

1 comment:

  1. Love it! I, too, have a geriatric car... oil leak, radiator leak, rusted out runnerboards (that my husband removed for me!), and pieces missing (mainly, one of the strips which hold the windshield in place. It's in my trunk because I finally got tired of chasing it down every time it flew off!). Love your writing! You have such a way of coveying your story which is both funny and endearing!