Saturday, June 29, 2013

struts

Regular oil change and irregular attention to power steering reservoir.
Oh no, look at that. The car was up on the rack and we stood underneath. Tons of greasy rusty metal.

The mechanic pointed to an oily swirl. "It needs new struts," he said. "New front tires too. These are bald, see? Look at the treads on the rear tires." He shook his head. "If it's raining real hard, you better pull over. I don't want you to hydroplane, you know?"

He pointed to some rusty spots and told me he could fix it all. Said it would probably cost just under a thousand dollars. I said I'd think about it and get back to him. My car was 11 years old and had 120,000 miles on it. I put $1000 into it last summer, replacing the driver's side rocker panel. Maybe it was time.

I went home and looked up on the Internet "How to buy a car."

All the things I thought I should say and do, I shouldn't. It was enormously helpful to read and study the tips and top cars. I still felt nervous. It's like a life landmark. I haven't bought a car myself since I bought my very first car: a Volkswagen Beetle. I bought it from a high school acquaintance. The whole interior was covered with shag carpeting. It was a cute fuzzy beetle. $800 cheap, all my savings. My kind of price. I was working as a cook. The baker was my dear friend Betsy, the night chef my friend Vicky, and the dishwasher was a college kid named Jim.

Anyway. I loved that car. It was so cute, and fun to drive. My own car.

It needed it's annual inspection sticker, so I took it to a garage; the one right on the lake. The mechanic said, "Hey, look at this." The fuzzy carpeting covered up the holes in the floor board. The thing was a rust bucket. Big holes all over. I got the sticker anyway.

Then it needed an oil change. A guy offered to change the oil in exchange for a haircut. I cut his hair. He changed the oil. "The oil light may come on," he said, "because I just changed the oil. It might not register the new oil just yet. It has to sink in."

I drove the car. The oil light came on. All the oil leaked out and I burned out the engine. My brother sold the car for me. I think he got $50 for it.

So I was understandably nervous about buying another car.


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