Okay, I promise, after this post I’ll stop talking about the crazy last few weeks I’ve had, what with Scammy Scammerton and the flu and moving. But let’s not forget that often troubles and adventures go hand in hand. So maybe we should call this:
Jae and the Incredible Car Adventure!
I’ve owned my current car, Azul, for 5 years and despite its 12 years of age, it’s been a good friend to me and hasn’t asked for much. Mostly I followed the recommended replacements and kept it frequent on oil changes and tire rotations.
And then one day out of nowhere, with no warning or previous indication of problem Azul decides to play dead.
My first thoughts are battery. After all, I have one of those fabulous cars that if you leave the keys in the ignition AFTER the car has been turned off the radio will stay running all night long. I’m sure the engineers thought this would be a convenience, especially at the drive-in movie theater. I mean in 2001 EVERYONE was going to the drive-in theater. Right? Right? That’s the location of one of my favorite and somewhat terrifying episodes of Psych.
But alas, the battery was fine and keys had not been left in the ignition.
I cannot tell you how awful it feels to have a car you believe to be 100% reliable—okay, 99% reliable—suddenly refuse to come back to life. It would be like waking up at 8am and realizing the sun hadn’t come up that morning. At first there’s confusion. You double-check your clocks, call your neighbors, check the interwebz and then that awful pit of realization settles in your stomach.
The first time this happened, the BFF and I had someone come and jump it, even though I was fairly certain the battery was just fine. Azul made that whirring turning over sound, but it never roared to life. But this may be because the BFF’s solution for everything is a little electricity.
Anyway, with about 0% other options, we opted for the jump. Somehow that seemed to work, so we took it right over to the mechanic who hooked up the computer and carefully explained that… NOTHING. They couldn’t find a thing wrong with it. We even killed the engine and it started right back up without a hitch as though my little Azul was just playing a naughty prank on me.
Bad Azul! Bad!
And several days passed as though nothing had happened. Maybe it was just one of those things. (Okay, with cars, it’s rarely just one of those things. Those are warnings, people! Warnings!)
While out to pick up a Redbox rental, I went to fire up my little muchacho and Azul was out for the count. Gah! Not again! We asked for a jump again, since it had worked the last time, but as I had feared, the battery wasn’t a problem.
The dude helping us said if we got some starter fluid, he’d get the car started. I walked into the gas station, picked up the starter fluid and handed it to Helpful Dude. And then what can only be described as pure voodoo nonsense magic happened next.
He stood over the engine, cigarette lit in one hand, highly flammable-in-fact-more-flammable-than-gasoline starter fluid in the other hand and sprayed away. VROOOOM!
When I visited my parents, the faux dead thing happened again, and the voodoo nonsense magic worked again, but now I was getting worried. I talked to my uncle, a mechanic, about the problem. He had a few ideas, but suggested I start with the fuel filter since it was the least expensive fix. Since my car needed an oil change anyway, I took it in, requesting a fuel filter change as well.
Azul and I were back together again. Reunited! Okay, all our troubles are behind us now.
But not really.
After shopping later in the evening, I returned to my car only to find it had been smashed by some strange blue police box.
No, I’m kidding. But it might well have been. It was dee-yad (dead). Again. Well, not battery dead. I mean won’t roar to life, violently shaking when I try dead. I even pulled out a can of black voodoo nonsense magic and pretended to be smoking a cigarette while spraying parts of plastic that would have no effect on getting the engine started. It seems the VNM was running on empty.
I called my insurance company, of whom I pay to come and tow me in situations like this, but decided to try once more to see if I could wake Azul up. VROOOOM!
Okay, first stop, the mechanics shop. Left them a note, Azul, and the keys.
Next morning they’d discovered that after much thorough investigation they’d come up with NOTHING again. But I explained what happened and that they’d better fix Azul OR ELSE! (I never explained what or else would be).
Actually, they were very nice and spent an hour or two trying to get my car to replicate the problem so they could be sure of what it was before replacing what they thought it might be. Yeah, I appreciate mechanics that are looking to know rather than guess.
Them: Hi Jae, well, your car finally died.
Jae: What? ¡No me digas! You killed Azul?!
Them: Well, no, I mean, Azul—er—the car, anyway, we were able to replicate the problem. It turns out you had a fault flux capacitor.
Jae: Say what? I’ve been up to 88 mph tons of times and I’ve never once traveled back in time.
Them: Exactly our point! Faulty flux capacitor. Anyways it fortunately will only cost you one arm. No legs required.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a flux capacitor but crankshaft position censor sounds nearly identical to that doesn’t it? Either way it looks like I will be able to travel back in time to catch the premiere of this in the near future. I just need to find some plutonium first.
Thankfully Azul is doing just fine and there are plenty more adventures for us ahead. But now you know the tale of the Incredible Car Adventure.
What’s the worst car trouble story you’ve ever heard or experienced? Do you love your car, hate it, or a little bit of both? Have you named your car or is it too utterly ridiculous to name an inanimate object? Did you know what a crankshaft position censor was before this story?