Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ticking Off the Car god.




My father was a strong Catholic who worshipped one God, most of the time, as long as the mechanical heap he was driving  didn't get a flat, or a hole in it's radiator, or a squealing belt, a wobbly sort of frame, an oil spewing gasket. You get the picture.

When those things occurred, and they did fairly often in our household as extra money for newer cars didn't exist, my father would make reference to another power. One that waived about a large pair of channellock pliers in his omnipresent hands-one known as-The Car god. (Sorry, too many years in parochial school for me to be able to capitalize  the "g" in  any other god, even one with greasy hands and the breath of antifreeze.)

Dad would rationalize that our cars broke down when perhaps we had been negligent about making appropriate sacrifices to that ever lurking Car god. One who had the power to both inflict, and relieve vehicular injury. But, he also believed in the law of averages. After a run in breakdowns, he knew a good streak was due to follow, and when it arrived he enjoyed it. Often by driving too fast and picking up too many hitchhikers.  He never could never pass up a fellow on the side of the road with his thumb out.

This past month Keith and  have been slammed with car/truck repairs and we're wondering ourselves, what have we done to tick off the car god? First my little car needed new brakes, then a new power steering belt. Then last week my car started spewing transmission fluid as I motored down the road. A few days later Keith's truck sputtered, coughed and gagged while he was delivering a load of hay for a friend of ours.

Expenses were piling up. What could we afford to repair and what could wait? Could we dump my Dodge Neon with its 217,000 miles and just get by with Keith's fifteen year old truck? Were we healthy enough to chuck both cars and just walk the ten miles to the nearest grocery store? 

We decided to try our hand at mechanical repair ourselves after getting  the $300 estimate to fix the transmission fluid issue on my car. Turned out hoses and a new radiator was needed. Keith has many, many talents but he is the first to admit he's not so good with engines. But  he talked with our    repairman, ordered the new pieces, grabbed me for assist (I am really good at holding bolts and pointing out where one doohickey doesn't look like the same doohickey we removed and now replaced) crossed his fingers, and slid himself under my car.



It took us a couple hours, but we did it.  We replaced the radiator in my car, and nobody died.            Even filled it with antifreeze AND connected all the right hoses AND replaced all the transmission fluid lost. Know what that darn car did? It ran, just great, and still is a week later. We were so fortunate  that it was super warm that day, we didn't miss our old machine shed with shop quite so much.

                                                                         Shiny  new radiator in place

What about the truck you ask? We decided not to push our luck and took it into the garage yesterday.  We'd  hate to totally tick off said car god with our mechanical independence.

So tell me. Who does their own car repairs? Oil changes? Tire rotations? Can you even fill the tank with gas or do you bribe the fellow at the station to do it for you?

21 comments:

  1. Hubby is a wonderful man, but totally without mechanical abilities.
    We take our one and only vehicle in for service. It has 180K miles on it. It's been a TERRIBLE year for repairs(breaks,shocks,front end work), but now she's all new and ready for another 180,000.....I hope.
    All that work added up to about 3 car payments. That saves us 57 car paymments, if you get my drift.

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    1. That is exactly how I figure too! All in terms of car payments. The way I figure it we're good until 2018...or not.

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  2. Wow. Very impressive. Is there anything worse than working over your head? I have pumped gas as long as it was allowed. Filled window washer fluid, checked oil. Other than that I let the professional mechanics do it. My son in law changed his brakes with Youtube.

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    1. I am often in over my head Carol...ba dum ching...and when I was working alongside my hubby I thought that a basic auto mechanics class might be in my future, if for not other reason then being able to describe car issues to a mechanic without using words like doo-hickey and thing-a-ma-bob.

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  3. Good for you!! Husband has done many repairs over the years, even built a "kit car" in his younger days. These days, as energy seems to be waning a bit, he employs the local garage just around the corner to do the more finicky things. -Jenn

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    1. We are now also in search of some local guy to do more minor repairs as they come up. Large garages around here have such huge overhead expenses their labor costs are crazy.

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  4. I fill the tank, the oil, the washer fluid, change the headlights, turn signals and fill the tires, but that's about it. Mechanical? I leave that to our trusted mechanic. One day though I do want to be able to change our tires and oil, paying $75 just to have the summer tires put on seems outrageous, but I don't have the tools for it. I had a Neon and it was such a lemon! Repair after repair. Once the warrantee ran out, I stopped all big repairs and cut my losses. I sold it to a dealer who knew the issues (he ripped me off terribly) and bought a Hyundai.

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    1. Hey, sounds like you know the basics pretty well. I was so lucky when I got my Neon, (gift from my son and his wife. he had done an excellent job maintaining it so now it's just the fact that it is 17 years old and getting a bit tired.

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  5. Someone else does it!!

    After a lifetime of driving Junque cars - I just can't bear to spend the equivalent of a luxury trip around the world 4 times on a car!!! - I learned to do just about anything from changing tires to installing my own starter. THEN the damn things went electronic! I know my limitations.
    1)Twice a year, I get the oil changed & a seasonal checkup at Mr Lube - first line of defense, well worth the money & they recycle everything.
    2)Check your Fluids - I'm over 65 & a little too beat up to be fixing anything but I can Top Up Fluids - this is half the battle.
    3)Trade - I do bookkeeping/income taxes for a mechanic, two tow truck drivers & sundry other grimy men who know what to do. I trade advice & work credits with them. I even have a glass man who owes me an installed windshield!!
    4)Take advantage of all the freebies. My bad knee won't even bend enough to let me check the tire pressure anymore so I let the kids at the Tire Shop do it for free. And most tire shops REPAIR flats for Free if you buy your tires there.
    5)Always bring Cash. When all else fails & you have to pay, get a referral & tell the garage WHO sent you. Pay in cash & forget the receipt. You will be remembered & your next visit will be cheaper.

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    1. "Sundry other Grimy Men" ANOTHER great name for a band! Sounds like you have the whole "I got connections" thing handled. Well done. Number 5 is best advice ever.

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  6. What guy at the station. They do not exist in Oz.

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    1. That's because Sharon has them all under her bookkeeping thumb.

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  7. Ooh dear...
    My dad was our family mechanic...literally, he worked as a supervisor in a large commercial garage until the day he left this earth, and loved it.
    My husband is not a mechanic, although he's pretty good at most everything else. The Ford dealership here know me by name, or at least the English woman, anything that needs repairing and you'll find me down there.
    In England you have public transportation, but here in this area of Tennessee people drive everywhere.
    Hope the truck repairs go smoothly :)
    ~Jo

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    1. "The English Woman" is a lovely name. Here they call me "The Irish Hag" which is not so lovely but fairly accurate. I grew up in Chicago, spent lots of time on public transportation as my folks didn't get their first car until I was 8. There was a simplicity to that way of life.

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  8. I live about 7 Kms from our nearby very small town. Nothing that a good heavy Shire Horse couldn't cover in about 30 mins. I've always fancied going to market on a big horse, with big paniers hanging either side for my shopping. You have the land; why not?

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    1. I have the horse already but have not ridden her in over a year. I have an agreement with Keith, if I don't ride her this summer, off she goes. Watch my blog for horse related injury posts--mine not hers.

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  9. Good morning my lovely adventurers! I have changed the alternator in my OLD dodge pickup 2x, and the radiator once. Both were not hard to do. I used to change the oil all the time and keep the fluids up. Car repairs are not usually hard - maybe the belt things are, because you have to figure out how to get the silly thing on and the tension properly adjusted. But there are books that can really help on that, Chiltons, etc. Glad the car god is back and happy (hopefully). Hugs, Kara Krantz

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    1. YOU...are impressive. it is amazing how motivated one can be to do things on their own when cash is strapped. At least for us, the lack of cash has been motivating, and enlightening!

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    2. In our case it's absolutely a lack of cash. When my husband was working we were always willing to pay a good mechanic whatever it cost to get the job done. Since we have chosen for him to leave the rat race and our income is greatly reduced he does whatever he can and has learned some new stuff (replacing brake lines). He might get help from a neighbor or we may try barter as well. He just put stop leak in the power steering pump until we decide the best way to replace it.

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  10. We used to so basic things like checking/filling certain fluids, but living in an apt now is very limiting as we can't do anything except add washer fluid and change wipers. We do have the oil and filters changed regularly and our Jeeps are 2004 and 2007 models so we still have a lot of life in each (we hope).
    Kudos to you and Keith for tacking the car repairs yourselves. You should be good for at least another 217K.

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