Wednesday, 10 July 2013

My Car is Making a Strange Noise

My car is making a strange noise.

It’s old, like me, so I understand its need to whine and groan at times, but this sound makes me think there’s a construction crew in the engine running a buzz saw and, well, that’s new and a little disconcerting.

I have a great fear that one of these times the car is going to let me down but good, and I’ll be without transportation, or paying a repair bill that will end up costing me more than the car is worth.

I don’t want my car to have any more problems. I had planned for the car to run as long as I was still driving, and that we would end our driving relationship together. And damn it, I’m not ready yet to give up my independence.

I’ve heard this car noise before, in my friend’s car, and they’re both older than me and mine. She told me it was dampness, moisture that collects because we live by the lake and we don’t drive every day. It only happens in reverse, and only the first time I back out of my parking spot. And circumstances being what they are, I’m driving even less than before.

I was told once that my kind of driving is really hard on a vehicle, especially in winter. Because I usually drive locally, just running errands, with a lot of stops-starts, the engine never gets a chance to really warm up.

I was told to take it for the occasional drive on the highway, where we would be out longer and get up to a greater speed. So now I’m thinking, these monthly lunches I do out of town, once with my friend and then with my brother, are therapeutic, for me and the car.

Which leads me to another issue, modern rock music. When I’m listening to music in the car and some song comes on with that repetitive sound in the background, that mechanical, techo-rock sound, I think it’s the car.

I turn the radio down and listen, and no noise, thank goodness, so it’s just the music. I have done this so many times now that if the car could talk it would chastise me for having so little faith.

Women need a reliable vehicle. Being stranded somewhere, alone, is a scary thing. Let me tell you about being stranded, at least I wasn’t alone, and it wasn’t my car.

I was out on a country day trip with a friend, in her brand new car. I mean really brand new, less than fifty kilometres new. We were travelling along when we noticed a strange noise from the rear of the car, on the passenger side, and pulled over to the side of the road to investigate.

We were on a fairly well travelled country road, but it was raining and traffic was sparse. I got out of the car, seemed logical as the noise was on my side, and discovered we had a flat tire.

A flat tire! It was a brand new car. So, there we sat, on a country road, surrounded by farmland, not a house in sight. My friend turned to me. “Do you have your cell phone?”

“I don’t have a cell phone,” I told her. “Don’t you have one?”

So there we were, two middle aged women, neither who had embraced the new technology, both wondering what we were going to do next.

But, I watch television…I’d seen all those car commercials about accidents and the OnStar people responding to the emergency. And, I saw the red OnStar button above the rear view mirror.

We laughed about the whole situation, the lack of cell phones, the isolation, the rain, and decided, what the hell, and pushed the button.

Well, what do you know, it worked. A very nice woman answered our…summons, call, I don’t know what you would call it, and listened to our plight. “Where are you?” she asked.

We knew vaguely where we were, but it wasn’t exact enough for her. ”Do you see a cross road, or any signs?”

There was a side road back a ways, so I got out of the car again, and walked back along the road, in the pouring rain (woe is me, eh?) until I could read the road sign. Once we gave our new friend the information, she knew exactly where we were. Then the issue became where did she send help from, as we were at a half way point between two towns.

Long story short, we had the tire inflated by a tow truck sent to help, made it to the closest town, and spent the afternoon waiting for her car to get a new set of tires, as the one that had gone flat was shredded to pieces, a factory defect.

We never did get to our destination, which had been some unique shops in town, so all the day cost me was a soaking and lunch. It was much more expensive and troublesome for my friend.

Old and used doesn’t have to mean unreliable. Old and used just needs some regular maintenance and care. And isn’t it fortunate that we now have a mechanic in the family, so my wheels get some personal attention, and I can maintain my faith a little bit longer..

Maybe we’ll make it to the end together after all.

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