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?

21 comments:

Laineshots said...

Okay, that car was seriously bad news! I'm so glad you all escaped it with your lives intact, if not the car.

I had one Bad Karma car, a Ford Granada. The first time I drove it on the freeway, I was in an accident and ended up plowing through the planted barrier into the oncoming lanes, and it went on from there. I'll skip the middle years and go right to the fitting end: it caught fire. Sitting in a parking lot, just WHOOSH. Goodbye, car, and good riddance.

Andrea C. said...

As I get older I am more willing to try new things and new foods. My husband will try any food so in the 12 years we have been together I have been pretty brave. I like to do new things and go new places as well, but I don't like to be dirty, cold, or in wet clothes so kayaking, not something I want to try...now sky diving or bungee jumping I would love to do...oohh

Babs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda Leszczuk said...

Our bad karma car (a station wagon) was an accident magnet. The first one happened seven days after we bought it. New. Over the years, that wagon and I were in at least four accidents and my older son had two or three. I'm not sure if my husband had an accident in it but he did have it stolen while on a business trip. (They threw it back.) When my younger son totalled it, only months after getting his license, I told myself it wasn't a bad thing - no one was hurt and hopefully he learned a valuable lesson. He did. Monday morning at school he was a celebrity for being the one to finally kill the 'beater wagon'.

Leann Sweeney said...

Yup. I think we've all had a bad Karma car in our lives. I must say, I'm glad mine didn't catch on fire. Yikes!

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Yikes! Just what you need. My cars have mostly been boring and well-behaved, but I did have an '80's Mustang that liked to stall when turning left into traffic. Our relationship didn't last long. I used to wish it would get stolen!

Hugs,

MJ

Charlotte Adams mysteries

Leann Sweeney said...

Turning left? That I can understand. I will go to great lengths not to turn left. LOL!

Rural View said...

Many years ago I had an Opel. It was lemon yellow and that was truly the best color for it. 'Nuff said?

Heather Webber said...

I'd be seriously cranky if my new car started stalling -- deadline or not.

My first car was a Chevy Blazer. At its bad karma peak, it needed a new engine. I was never so glad to get a new car. Since then, though, lots of great cars (knock wood--don't want to jinx the good car karma).

Anonymous said...

I totally understand the bad car karma and have been subjected to the 'cannot replicate problem' statement from the dealer. It tends to come with a "You're a woman so you must be an idiot..." kind of attitude. My favorite part was writing out the check for the 'services rendered'. Where you write out the total dollar amount, I wrote "Cannot replicate amount on bill." I think they still have the useless hunk of metal and I still enjoy looking at that copy of my check. Ahhhhhh...justice is gooooood! :o)

Leann Sweeney said...

Wish I could be as brave as you! Yup, cannot replicate how much time and energy I spent bringing my car to you so you could treat me like an idiot. :-)

Aimee said...

My first car was a 1970 Chevrolet Monza (this was in 1987 and it was a year older than I was) ... one of the 3 most structurally unsafe cars ever made. It had power nothing. I took my driver's test in this car and the tester was stunned that not only could I drive it with no power steering but that I could parallel park it. My dad taught me to drive on a dump truck - a 1964 4 speed dump truck. True story - we owned a construction company at the time. Anyway, the Monza ...

It was painted Basin Street Blue, number 97 on the list of 100 paint colors in order of how noticeable/ticketed by cops. Which still stuns me because that sucker was turquoise. How could you NOT notice it? That paint job cost more than my dad paid for the car.

It was my tester car. If I could survive it, I got a real car.

In a year it was hit three times in parking lots while I was not anywhere near the car. People claimed to not have seen it in the notes they left. Which I was so grateful for them leaving ... otherwise no 'real car.'

Then it started stalling. Eventually it would stall every time I made a stop. It was like car boot camp. Once I made it through that car it was smooth sailing. It's the only car I owned for less than 5 years. When it was time to get my real car, my dad took me to the junkyard and they let me punch the button to turn it into a car cube.

But my husband could tell you some hard luck car stories that would curl your hair and then straighten it.

Leann Sweeney said...

Ah, Aimee. I would have given anything to see bad Karma car turned into a cube. Of course it was already halfway there with that bumper in the back seat. Turquoise? Not noticeable? I guess all those who hit the car can attest to that! Never would have thought it. I'm guessing RED is the MOST noticeable. Ask my son. He has the tickets to prove it.

Caitlyn Henderson said...

When I was a kid we were driving in our Pinto (YES, Pinto) and it caught on fire, everyone made it safely out of the car and it didn't blow up. Dumb part - mom went out and bought another used Pinto. Guess what happened?

Our bad karma car was a Dodge Neon. We were going camping with family and it was a 5 hour interstate trip up North. Our daughter and her best friend rode up with other family as we decided it was a good time to drop my car off at the mechanic for a minor repair and take my husband's car up North.

DH, me and our chow/st bernard mix with some camping gear in the trunk. An hour into the trip the car overheats so we pulled over to let it cool down and my husband added fluids. Back on the road but every hour it overheated and we had to stop, let it cool off and put fluids in it. No leaks, not the radiator, we finally rolled into the campgrounds around midnight after a 9 hour trip.

DH figured out it was the thermostat and replaced it while we were up North. Drove just fine while we were there. On the drive home, YES, it overheated. Luckily the girls were with other family members in a mini-van and they pulled over with us and then took the dog on ahead with them. She just couldn't stand all that heat for the amount of time we had to keep pulling over (in construction!) and let the care cool down.

The mechanic couldn't find anything "wrong" with it. Passed along to my father-in-law who never had a problem with it but then he never drove it on the freeway.

signaldy217 said...

I hate having car trouble!! My thing is I've been in about 6 wrecks, and none of them were my fault! Seriously! Rear-ended, side-swiped, head-on, yeah, I've done them all (or at least had them done to me!) :) Glad I've survived them all with only residual back and neck problems, but that stuff still hurts.

Mare F said...

Oh, yes. Not in a few years, but the residual fear is still there. I don't think that it ever really goes away.

Maggie Sefton said...

That story is seriously scary, Leann.

Carol in Indian Springs Village said...

For whatever reason, I guess bad karma is as good as any, the vehicle i drive now seems to be 'invisible' to people. It is a Toyota Highlander in the soft brown/gold. I've been rear ended 3 times in it; just sitting in traffic! I didn't stop quickly but had been stopped for several minutes each time and WHAM! Needless to say, I know the body shop guy on a first name basis. But I love my vehicle other wise. I just with more folks would watch what they are doing. Two admitted they were on their cell phone and didn't notice me and the other was coming off the interstate exit ramp way too fast to stop. Good luck with your car; maybe it was just trash in the gas line.

Leann Sweeney said...

The cell phone thing is getting to be a standard excuse--although the kid who hit my husband said he "sneezed" and didn't see our car up ahead. I was rear-ended three times in one year, so I know what you're talking about Carol. You're sitting at a stop light or waiting to make a left turn and WHAM! Not fun.

Lindy said...

One thing I must have is a reliable car--I was single far too long and did not have a white knight to come to my rescue. Had I been told "Cannot replicate problem." I would have been in a larger than life huff--they can't treat me like a dumb blond and get away with it. One time, after getting the run around at the dealership, I called the Buick home office and talked to their customer representative. I let them know I cannot have an unreliable car--I got the car fixed and didn't have any more problems.

Leann Sweeney said...

You sound like a strong woman! I must say, I have had no more problems with the new car. But I am still worried every time I go somewhere. If I were 20 years younger, it probably wouldn't bother me! I've just been through too much with cars, thus the title of this blog. :-)