There comes a time in every car’s life when it’s time to just let it go. There is only so much you can do for an automobile. You can spend your entire personal wealth trying to keep it alive, but in the end, it is just going to be sent to that great scrap heap in the sky.
It can be hard to admit when that time has come. Next to our children and significant others, the relationship with our vehicles can be the single most important one a person can have. In fact, it may be THE most important. You would never ask your spouse or kids to carry you 20 miles just because you heard a restaurant in a certain part of town was really good. Your car never complains about it.
That is why I was so disturbed Wednesday morning. I had made my daily trek to my mighty steed in the effort to warm it up before going to work. When it comes to 22 year-old SUVs, this is usually a 7 to 8 hour process. Since I have no desire to wake up at 1 a.m., I have been rounding up from 10 minutes and assuming that is good enough.
This particular morning, though, something was askew. There was the scene I had grown accustomed to, my vehicle sitting there, its engine groaning as it desperately tries to run for yet another day. Beside it, though, was a puddle of greenish liquid. My mighty steed had begun to seep coolant at a rate so extreme that it had begun trickling down the slight hill it had sat parked on.
This is not what one would consider a good sign. I checked the coolant and, seeing that it was still most of the way full, I went to work. Several times throughout the day, I would go down to check on my poor leaky car. Each time, though, there was nothing underneath. Not a single drop. The pavement was dry as a bone. Naturally, as a responsible car owner would do, I pretended that the morning never happened and went on my way home.
It was very cold Thursday as I made my way outside. I turned the key to get the sputtering and coughing of the engine going. Again, this fluid was emanating from my car. I had two choices. First, I could take it to a mechanic to fix whatever was happening here. Secondly, I could continue to ignore because everyone knows that most problems go away if you pretend they just do not exist. I chose the latter.
Friday morning, though, I had come to the harsh reality that something had to be done. There was another puddle, the cloudy green liquid standing out against the dark pavement. I looked at my poor vehicle and made the resolution that I would indeed take it to see a professional Saturday.
I woke up early and took it to the mechanic down the street. Much like my relationship with this car, the mechanic had built his own rapport with this relic of vehicles past. If car shops were to introduce a punch card system like the one many sandwich shops have, I am fairly certain I would have reached a free repair by now. I explained the issue and went on my merry little way.
Three hours later my phone rang.
“Nathan? This is Mark over at Goodyear.”
“I was calling to pick your brain a bit.”
This is not a good sign. A professional should not ever want to pick my brain about anything. My brain is essentially useless to a mechanic unless there is some way that knowing the names of the characters in “Welcome Back Kotter” could possibly help get a car up and going.
“Where exactly was the leak?” he asked. This was puzzling. I almost said “Above the puddle of green fluid,” but I thought that would be unhelpful. I explained it to him as best I could.
“Hmmm…. Well, that’s interesting.”
“What is?” I asked. I did not want things to be interesting. Interesting is not a good thing in this particular scenario. Interesting is usually bad. Interesting has, in the past, ended with me pulling out a credit card reluctantly and silently cursing the day I decided to take driver’s education.
“We can’t make it leak. We have run every test we can think of, but nothing is happening.” There was suddenly nothing wrong with my car. It was a modern vehicular miracle, one that would someday be ordained by the vehicular pope and go down in vehicular teachings forever. My car had suddenly healed itself.
There comes a time in every car’s life when it’s time to just let it go. Fortunately for me, it was not today. I still have my mighty steed and, more importantly, my money.
Now if it would just fix all of those other leaks…