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I told y’all about…

September 17, 2012

how my car wouldn’t start last weekend, right? It seemed like a one-time thing. I actually didn’t think about it at all after it happened. Well, until it happened again. And I was out of town.

It’s time to admit that my car is getting old, I guess. I love my car, though. It was a wedding gift from The Man, and the very first brand new car I’d ever driven.  My previous car, a navy Toyota with navy interior, had no air-conditioning, leaked oil, and the radio worked best when the windshield wipers were engaged.  The new car had seven miles on it. We’ve been married for 10 years and never had any problems with the car. Until now. And I was out of town.

I went to start my car on Sunday, ready to come home and see my family, and it wouldn’t crank. It tried. I even revved the engine, but as soon as I took my foot off the gas pedal, it died. I tried a few more times before I decided I should call The Man.

He asked the basic questions. “Do you have enough gas?” “Does it seem to be the battery?” “What noises does it make?”

I assumed that we’d just call and have it towed, but I quickly learned that it wasn’t going to be that simple. “Get out the manual,” he said. Huh? We’re going to fix this ourselves? Over the phone? No, silly. We’re going to use YouTube, too!

He mentioned something about spark plugs and fuses and was doing some research, while I went straight to the part of the manual entitled Roadside Emergencies. I couldn’t find anything that described my problem, but I did see the diagram of fuses.

Apparently, before you mess with fuses and such, you should disconnect the battery. It makes sense to me, I just might not have thought about it without the husbandly reminder.

Now here’s where just about every man is going to think I’m stupid (if you don’t already). I don’t really travel with tools in the car. Well, I have a wrench of some sort. To help you with the visual, I tried to Google the type of wrench I have, but my description must not be accurate. I can’t find a picture of the one I have. Anyway, I keep it in my car because the knob on my temperature control sticks. The only way to chance from heat to AC is to use that wrench.

So, using my trusty wrench, I tried to disconnect the battery. The screw would not turn. There was some corrosion acting like glue and preventing my wrench from turning the screw. The Man commented that he’s never, ever been unable to disconnect a battery from a car. Well I have. Clearly. I tried with all my might, and that screw wouldn’t budge. I checked the fuses anyway. I’m proud to say that I located the fuse for the fuel pump, and I can verify that it is still intact.

We were stumped, and it was Sunday. The only open car repair place was closing in five minutes. Considering the car had to be towed, we’d never make there before they went home for the night. We decided I’d just spend another night and plan to call first thing in the morning.

In the meantime, I started Googling. Maybe my problem was a common one. Not that I could fix it if it was, but at least I’d sound like I knew what I was talking about when I called the repair people in the morning.

I actually found a thread where people were talking about my exact problem. They mentioned that we could possibly just clean the part and put it back in, rather than having to replace it. In order to get to the part, you have to remove the engine’s big, plastic chastity belt with a socket wrench. Um, no socket wrench.

We tried cranking it one more time for good measure. Crank, putter, die.

The next morning, thanks to the help of a college friend (yay, Karen!), I called Charles, the owner of Beechwood BP in Athens. I described the problem, using my newly acquired lingo and feeling so very important and knowledgeable. He said he’d just come over and take a look at it before we had it towed over there. How nice! It’s unheard of these days, actually. This guy likes his job, and just wants to help people.

I met him in the parking lot. He shook my hand, and flashed a super friendly grin. I handed him my keys, going on and on about what I did, how it wouldn’t start, what I thought the problem was, and CRAP. My car started right up. Well, not right up, but he revved the engine gently, said something under his breath, and the car purred like a kitten.

He said my diagnosis of the car was likely correct, and that I’d be safe to drive home, but I needed to take it to my mechanic once I got there. This will be a continuing problem and needs to be fixed. Part of me thought “but it’s running, so what’s the big deal?” That, my friends, is why I don’t fix cars.

I did make it safely home, and I still haven’t taken the car to our repair guy. I’m tempted to try and repair it myself, because YouTube sure does make it sound simple. Five minutes they say!

Who knows if I’ll actually take that extra step, but I’ve been told that I’m getting a little tool set to keep in my car. Oh, just what I’ve always wanted. Apparently we’re also going to have a little tutorial on the basics of car care and maintenance. For our marriage’s sake, it might be better to just join AAA.

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