Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dirt Roads and My Car

Last week, I come out to my car to get a box and I see that there is a flat tire--and it is not just flat on one side, as the old joke goes, but flat all the way around. Well, nuts, I say (not really, I said a bit more then that!) but at least I am not going to work that day so there is no rush and my handyman is here to change it for me. I stopped changing tires decades ago when the power tools used made it too hard to get the nuts off. Even Jose had to stand on the tire wrench to get the nuts loosened. Of course the spare is a little low on air (yeah, I know that is supposed to be checked periodically, but, hey, out of sight--out of mind) with less then 10 lbs in it. However, living out here, one must be prepared and so there is an air compressor living in the generator house(the generator and its house is a whole 'nother story). Jose found the nail in the tire and by good grace it is in the tread and not in the sidewall, so it is fixable. I also must commend my car for having the tire go flat at home and not out in the middle of nowhere, which pretty much is everything between town and home.

I've been looking at the maintenance light on my dashboard for a while, knowing that the service place sets that light to come on at 3,000 miles for an oil change which is not at all necessary. I was letting some more miles accumulate before taking the car in for its routine service. I jokingly told a friend that maybe the flat tire was nature's way of telling me to get the car in for service. Snork!, little did I know...

Driving to the service place Saturday afternoon, I'm thinking, piece of cake, I have coupons for the oil change & the tire repair, so this should only cost me the $5 oil disposal charge. Hmmm, maybe. We did not change the air filter and cabin filter last time, and living on dirt roads, these items need frequent replacement. So, I might be stuck for that and they are not cheap. Oh well, what must be done, must be done.

I turn my car over the the nice people at the service place and sit down with a snack and a book, which I have not yet started, by an author I like, so I'll have lots to read if need be. In a while, the manager comes back in carrying an air filter and a cabin filter and both are really really dirty, so I knew they must be mine (I had the dirtiest car at the place!). Yep, he always shows me that they do need changing. Then he hands me some really nasty looking brake fluid. I am thinking that I don't recall changing out the brake fluid and the manager does not recall that we have done that for this car since I started going here. We did the radiator and transmission not super long ago, but apparently not the brake fluid. Oh well, if it must be done...

I settle back with my book and some time passes when the manager walks in again with *that* look on his face and he is looking at me. This is so not a good sign. Really. He tells me that my top engine mount is broken and needs to be replaced. I'm thinking, ok, a bracket and a couple of bolts, right? WRONG. This is a complex, heavy, important piece of equipment that dampens the shock and vibration the engine undergoes. And, with dirt roads, this engine undergoes a lot. Without this piece, there is more stress on the other mounts and it also puts more stress on the belts and hoses, which will then be more likely to break, probably in the middle of nowhere. sigh....

Napa Parts first brings the wrong part, and has to go back and get the right part, which also is $40 more expensive. Did I mention--sigh....

Finally, nearly 3 hours later, and over $400 on my credit card, I do get out of there alive. I now have new oil, new cabin filter, new air filter, new brake fluid with a flushed-out brake system, and a brand new upper motor mount. And I still have the dirtiest car there. And it is all the fault of the dirt roads.

I wouldn't trade living out here with my dirt roads for life in the flats even though it would save me money on car maintenance!

3 comments:

Michelina Douglass said...

Dirt roads could really wreak havoc on vehicles no matter how sturdy they were, and I think you did a fine job of bringing your auto to the mechanic. It may be a bit out of your budget, but you were able to fix the “hidden” issues of your vehicle. Now you will be more confident to drive your car on the dirt road!

-
Michelina Douglass

Erwin Calverley said...

Michelina, you’re right! Going through dirt roads can be a challenge to cars and to their drivers, but I do enjoy going off the beaten path onto rough terrain. It’s one way of testing the car and your skills as a driver on how the both of you can manage rough roads and tough paths. It’s not like we’re going to go through smooth roads all our lives, after all. :)

Regards,
Erwin Calverley

Tyra Shortino said...

Good point, Erwin. Dirt roads do not always mean it would totally wreck one’s car, but they’re also a test to see if you’ve been putting a great deal of attention and maintenance on your car. :) Anyway, one thing to do to prepare your car for it is to check your tires before a drive. Check the air pressure and apply a tire cleaner and protectant.

Tyra Shortino