Jae vs. Car Troubles

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?


15 thoughts on “Jae vs. Car Troubles

  1. I will forever imagine your car as a train. Thank you, Dora the Explorer! 😉

    We just got our car in May. And, even though I love finally having four doors, I miss the car we had before it. For a long time we went through a string of cars. Our luck was terrible! One or two years tops.

    We had “the before car” for five years and it was 16 years old when we gave up keeping it alive. It was technically a sports car (Chevy Cavalier Rally Sport Edition). The handling! The not slow to get up to speed! Yeah. I miss it.

    I think cars are like favorite sweaters. You have them long enough and they get comfy and familiar. You end up loving them more than you should.

    • I’ve owned a Jeep Cherokee before and I really, really, really miss that car. But the fuel efficiency… Makes Azul seem like a newborn kitten in comparison to that tiger Jeep I had. 😥 I also had a Dodge Spirit. It was still beefier than Azul with a V6. But like you said, cars are like favorite sweaters, and Azul may be a bit of a wimp, but I still love the thing. I think he’s got a good chunk more life in him.

      *smiles* Yep, I do like that favorite sweater analogy. A lot.

  2. I have never heard of a crankshaft position censor but I do name everything! My cell phones, computers and definitely my cars! I’m glad when I run into other people who name their cars too! And definitely glad Azul is healthy again! 🙂

  3. Sorry about the car trouble! We have a Mazda 5. It’s perfect for a family of 5 that needs to fit a car in tight spaces. I don’t like to drive–and so I avoid it as much as possible–but I still like this car. So far, we haven’t had any trouble with it, but it’s only a year and a half old. I didn’t own a car before this one (city living; we now live in an adjacent suburb).

    • When I lived in Japan I could hardly see the point of owning a car, but suburb living, you’ve got to. But don’t like to drive? Well, I guess I can agree if it’s a looooooong road trip through boring country, but I love going for drive through the canyon to see the fall leaves or the time I went up the Oregon coast. Is it just too mundane? Too stressful? Of course if it’s too personal, no worries, but was just curious.

      • I’m just not comfortable driving after living in cities without a car for so long. I didn’t use my license (except on very rare occasions) for almost 10 years! It’s a surprisingly common phenomenon on the east coast, particularly in the major cities. Even in the suburbs, I can walk to many places, including two train stations that get me to and from work. A car is helpful, though.

        • Makes sense. I learned to drive in Idaho, which has two seasons, winter and a brief respite of summer. We don’t salt our roads in Idaho (something to do with ruining the land for the potatoes). It’s like a slip and slide all year. Needless to say our neighbor to the south and where I live now does salt it roads, but its drivers are among the worst there are. It’s like they completely forget about winter every single year. *sigh* Makes me wish for the big city sometimes. 😉

  4. I’ve had my fair share of auto woes because I have an affinity for Land Rovers and Range Rovers– basically the world’s least reliable cars. Most recently I broke down in the world’s most ghetto part of our city while driving down the highway and had to coast to an exit so I could chill beneath an underpass. I was surrounded by road construction and fields of dead grass yet there still managed to be random people milling about (at 1AM). I actually called the guy I had JUST broke up with (like an hour before) and begged him to come rescue me. It was a real special time.

  5. It is amazing what we will do to eek out one more mile out of our car, and what we will do to deny a problem with a car.
    Also, I call anything in a car engine which doesn’t make sense to me a flux capacitor. I once spent a few hours holding up the exhaust pipe as my dad welded a new catalytic converter to the car – which, may as well be a flux capacitor.

    • We should have Doc Brown teach science classes, don’t you think? It would be so much better. 🙂

      Yeah, I don’t even know what a catalytic converter is… So FLUX CAPACITOR it shall be named!

  6. I’m glad Azul is back and kicking! We had a wonderful old honda civic…I think it was an 86? It was old, at any rate, but ran really well. People kept stealing it from our apartment complex b/k apparently those cars are super easy to take, but we’d always find it again a couple of days later, in the same condition, just a few blocks away. It was like a neighborhood shared car, or something…

    After the 3rd time we finally got a club (we’re slow learners), and everything was swell for a couple of years…until it suddenly, out of nowhere, it blew a head gasket. It would have cost more to fix than to just get a new car so we donated it this past year, but I still cry a little on the inside when I think about it. :*(

    • I understand that. I had the silver bullet, I think a Pontiac 2000. I never bothered to wash it because it was so rusted and the paint was all but stripped away. After sinking $800 into it, when it had another problem come up, I’d decided, like you, I wasn’t interested in sinking more and got Azul.

      That’s so funny about your car. You should do a short story about its adventures when it’s stolen. Could be like James Bond used it once, or even Lady Gaga. 😉

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