Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Hate Cars

by Leann

Last week, my relatively new car (has about 5000 miles on it) stalled out at a stoplight. First of all, that makes the people behind you honk and make unpleasant gestures. But second of all, when I have an impending deadline, car trouble is the last thing I need. I have no time to sit around and wait for the "diagnosis" at the dealership. Those people are in no hurry to do anything.

Ordinarily, one stall in traffic wouldn't bother me, but I panicked. It's because of what I call "the bad Karma car" we owned about fifteen years ago. It was used, a reliable brand and we bought it for my daughter when she was in college. She got into not one, but two wrecks with that car and thus the saga began. The second wreck (and we are so thankful she wasn't hurt considering how much damage was done) took three months to repair. That's when we learned about replacement parts and how the insurance company must approve what's used. They are picky.

When daughter moved to NYC and no longer needed bad Karma car, we kept it. You can always use a spare, I say. But that was the wrong spare. I decided to drive bad Karma car to a writer's conference in Austin--about a 200 mile drive--because my own car wasn't as comfortable and the air conditioning was at best intermittent. Big mistake. Thus I arrive at the point of all this. The stalling thing. Bad Karma car stalled out while I was doing about 75 mph on the freeway. Yeah. Just quit. The only good thing was that I was going fast enough to navigate several lanes of traffic while coasting.

I had to be towed, my husband had to drive 60 miles to exchange cars after a temporary fix was done and I didn't get to the conference hotel until very late. Bad Karma car continued to stall every now and then, so annoying and scary, but the final straw is when my husband took it to look for our blind, geriatric dog who had wandered away from home. He was rear ended by a teenager so badly that the bumper landed in the back seat. Emergency room, more insurance woes and finally bad Karma car was totaled.

So perhaps that sheds light on why I had a panic attack when the new car stalled. I envisioned stalling again on a freeway and this time not being so lucky. I had to take the car in, of course, and the diagnosis? "Cannot replicate problem" written in dark ink on the repair statement. I've heard that one before. How about you? Have you ever had a bad Karma car? And what's with this, "cannot replicate" thing that mechanics love writing all over your bill?