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My awful luck with cars (Part 1)

I'm going to do a series informing the world at just how my luck goes with cars. My first part of the series will start back in 2005. It all starts with a family car that was revived from a 4.5 year slumber, just in time for me to use with my newly acquired driver's license.

Illustration for article titled My awful luck with cars (Part 1)
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Featured pic is similar to my first car, but way too little rust. Think rustier, then add a lot more holes.

Ok, so it all starts with a 1989 Toyota Camry. It had been in our family for well over 10 years by this point and had seen many horrors in its time (i.e. the time my dad hit a patch of black ice while driving down the interstate and did a slow-motion 360 across three lanes of traffic while barely missing a semi). The car had 220,000 miles when parked by my father. He decided that it was going to be cheaper to get a used van and utilize it than to fix the power steering pipe that shot fluid out the right wheel every time the car was turned. Don't get me wrong here, the car was perfectly fine at this point minus the power steering line.

Now fast forward 4.5 years, I'm 16 years old and just got my driver's license and I see this poor car sitting in our driveway that is neglected and just wants some TLC. I poke and prod my father enough that he lets me tinker with it (i.e. charge the battery and throw in some new gas). After that minimal tinkering, the car starts up, first try! "How exciting!", I thought to myself. My father, impressed as well, decided that now was a good time for me to use my license and get the car to the mechanic so that we could actually use it.

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He tells me, "Put it in reverse". In no time at all, I'm in the driver's seat and letting the automatic seat belt fasten me in. I put it in reverse and...nothing. I tell him that it's in reverse and he yells back "hit the gas!". With some trepidation, I do. The car's wheezy 3 out of 6 cylinder engine and holey muffler start screaming at me, telling me that she's giving me all she's got. And just as I thought that she was on her way to the scrapyard, the car starts to move. *Crunch* *Pop* *Crunch* Three of the wheels are freed from the oxidized brakes. Suddenly, she starts moving! I rejoice while hearing a terrible squealing coming from the 4th wheel. And finally, it releases, but not after leaving a 20 foot skid-mark down the driveway. Now I get her to the mechanic but not without feeling like I was driving Goofy's jalopy in the old-school cartoons. Bucking and grabbing the brakes all the way there.

After getting her back from the shop, they tell us that they fixed the brakes and the power steering hose and replaced 5/6 spark plugs. Apparently 1 of the spark plugs was frozen in place and impossible to get out without a major overhaul. After some griping with the mechanic, we leave in our car that was now a little more efficient than when we arrived.

On my way home, it starts to rain. This car hadn't been driven in the rain in over 4.5 years and now was its time to show me just how terrible an idea this was. I get onto a main road, waiting to turn left. The light gives me a protected green, I hit the gas and hear the FWD start to spin the tires. I let off and let them catch. I turn the wheels to the left now and start to head South. Suddenly the front tires decided to lose all traction in the middle of my turn and began the slowest under-steering curb hit I'd ever seen. It was hilarious and embarrassing all at the same time. I have no way to convey how awkward it was to reverse back into the intersection just so that the curb wasn't caught in between the front two tires and so that I could continue my voyage home.

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The next issue with my beloved camry didn't happen for another couple months. By now everyone had grown accustomed to my go-kart sounding rust bucket. But what we weren't accustomed to was school dances. I volunteered to pick up my friend and his date because my date was at his house. So, on the way to get my date and my friend, I hear a terrible *ker-chunk* at the stoplight. Knowing that this car is known for making strange noises, I am hesitant to declare it a problem at first. I get all the way to my friend's house with no problems but just so that everyone is on a fair footing, I warn him and my date (jokingly) that the car made an awkward noise at the stoplight and that all bets were off on if we'd make it to the dance. It got a couple laughs and we were on our way...sort of. We almost made it out of the neighborhood when I glanced down at the Temp gauge and see it's through the roof. I immediately pull over just as the car starts belching smoke from the hood. We get out and sure enough, the car is pouring anti-freeze all over the ground.

This was the last time she ran for me and was quite upsetting knowing just how much of my time and effort I put into this rubber-bumpered jalopy. She may have not been the happiest car, nor the flashiest but I will for sure say she had some of the most character of any of my cars that I have had to date. With her final odometer reading 222,222 I felt that it must have been pre-determined that she would be taken from me so early on.

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TL;DR - Car sat for 4.5 years -> "Fixed" -> Rain hilarity/shame -> School dance chauffeur -> Smokey-fiery car death

Thank you for reading, and I hope that this inspires you to tell us about your particular luck with cars. I hope to have another post up within the next week. Wedding this weekend for me and I'm not sure which of my friends'/families' cars to choose that will whisk the Bride and I away to the reception. But that's another post for another day!

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