The Peculiarities of Old Cars

2 May

old car free stock photo

I think our car is on its last metaphorical leg.

You can usually tell that things are getting serious when there is some sort of physical obstacle to hurdle every time you want to use it.  Like our car, for example, has a passenger door that doesn’t shut all the way sometimes.  Instead of latching once it connects to the actual car, it will just swing back out into the great blue yonder.  The only way to fix it is to pull the door in close to you and push in a mysterious little piece of metal by the door handle.    Once you’ve made that fine adjustment, the door shuts with ease.

The physical sign of old age is different for every car and every owner.   For example, my last car (let’s call it Fred) had a broken gas gauge. I never really knew how much fuel was in Fred at any given time because it always read Empty.  I had to do the math for about how many miles per tank I could get and then constantly reset my odometer every time I filled the tank.  

Sometimes my math was wrong.

Fred had an added bonus of losing its charge every once in a while and occasionally overheating.  On any extended trip, you’d find me in a state of constant haggardness, flicking my eyes from my temperature gauge to my odometer and back again.  I would refuse to stop anywhere to use the restroom or eat because I wasn’t sure if the car battery would suddenly die.

It was a stressful period in my life.

I would almost rather endure all those problems combined to the problem I had to the car prior to that one. Let’s call it Bess.  One of the beauties of old car issues and their owners is that in order to keep the car moving through space, only the owner can be in operation of it.  The slowly fading bells and whistles are too much for a newb to manage.  But unless you actually ride in the car with the owner, it’s unlikely you’ll ever suspect the car has problems.

But Bess had noticeable problems.

A glaring white quarter panel (installed to replace the original one I ruined in my wreck), a couple dings, a water-stained roof, a “not-so-automatic” window, a broken handle cover, an unrecognized CD player, a cherry-stained backseat, a lack of air conditioning, rust that was spreading like cancer, and a gas tank I believed to be leaking topped off the list of amenities on this crap trophy.  And then it lost its power steering.  And started squealing like a naked newborn piglet every time I turned the steering wheel to the right.

I can’t remember a time when I ever had a car that didn’t have some sort of magic password of physical obstacles to overcome in order to drive it.  Even when I was young I remember pinning up the fabric on the ceiling of the family car with little push pins because the fabric glue that once held it up had become old and stick-less, and I’m not sure I’ve ever even known someone who owned a car with a working air conditioner.

And so it looks like our car is slowly stacking up its list of old age peculiarities.  The CD player doesn’t read discs unless you put them in a few times in a row with a small turn of the disc at a different angle until you trick the player into not spitting it back out.  There is a peculiar thudding that develops occasionally upon braking, and an interesting squeak developing during hard turns.   The driver’s seat doesn’t quite pull up as far as the passenger’s, so we can only let people into the back from the passenger’s side.  Oh, and of course there’s the door trick with the mysterious nub of metal that started this whole post.

We will eventually have to part ways with Old Faithful, and venture out into a used car lot to find our next glorious bucket of peculiarities.  

Or maybe we’ll just use bikes. 



11 Responses to “The Peculiarities of Old Cars”

  1. pegoleg May 2, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Love the imagery of the squealing newborn piglet (naked, as opposed to…?). Makes driving an adventure!


    • Jackie May 2, 2011 at 11:13 am #

      as opposed to a suit and tie, obviously. 🙂 Loved your post today, but you had comments disabled when I visited. So I shall compliment you here instead.


  2. Jules May 2, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Bikes! Up yours, BP!

    About the cars…yeah those old, quirky ones have their “charm”. They’re a keeper until you start stressing about the thought of using them. That’s when you know it is time to go. Don’t forget to don your haggle hat at thee dealership.


    • Jackie May 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

      I don’t bother doing anything car-related without a man. As soon as you step on the lot, you’re profiled. I used to be a receptionist at a car dealership and I know that if you’re a female, they think you don’t know a darn thing. So instead of spending my time trying to prove them wrong and getting upset at their idiocy, I just bring a man. 🙂


  3. Cindy May 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Yeah, our house is where cars go to die…which means you may not want to park there too long! At last count, we had three in the driveway, and one hidden in the garage, none of which operate properly. Two need transmissions, one needs a catalytic converter, and the last needs major body work/new brakes/new tires. And husband needs a job. ’nuff said.


    • Jackie May 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

      Between all of them, you could have one well-working car! 🙂


  4. Robin Waller May 2, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    Maybe “Old faithful” should stop and see Dad before that thump at braking gets worse!! Give him a heads up, laundry list, and a little time, he can work wonders until you can manage to find your way to a car lot. The longer you can put off that car payment….the better….just say’in.


  5. Sarah T May 3, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Jackie, please, talk to Josh or I before you buy a car – Do not listen to your brother! 😉 Honestly – Honda Accord or Honda Civic. Best bets for used cars that will hold up. Trust me, I know these things.


    • Jackie May 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

      Yes ma’am. But just so you know, you’d better have your facts straight. Because if I invest in a car that isn’t Michael-approved, I will spend all my days with said car getting a sarcastic smackdown from him.


  6. egills May 4, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Ah the joy of having an eldest son who’s a mechanic.. not that I drive but Brian does and when there’s any car problems I just give James a text.


    • Jackie May 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      oooh cheater. That’s what I’ll do! I’ll raise my kids to specialize in skills that make my life easier.

      That’s awful. And they’ll probably all become mimes.


Say Something

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: