For those of you interested, not interested and those still unsure, my second search for a vehicle in the last 10 months is over. It concluded with a stylish 4-cylinder 97 Civic. Thank God I already have a girlfriend. I’m just glad the search is over. I do this way too often. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t hate it with the passion of a thousand island dressing (I may have misunderstood that saying). Seriously, the act of looking for a car is up there with waterboarding for me. Strap me down to a chair and force me to look for a cheap but reliable vehicle that is Maryland State inspected and I will admit to shit that I did not do. So in an effort to maximize the time between now and the next time I’ll have to deal with this shit (and with that girlfriend card firmly in my pocket), I decided to stick within the Honda and Toyota families – not that the concept of buying a car from one of 7 different companies who have gone bankrupt and will cease to manufacture replacement parts isn’t appealing. Though I did occasionally take a peek at the Wranglers around the area. But I was able to fight through it thanks to my mantra: “What would a grown-up do?” “Buy foreign, and throw away your Weird Al t-shirts.” I didn’t even ask for that second piece of advice, thank you subconscious.
So why am I buying my second car in under a year? Well, I’ll give you half that story now. If you haven’t heard about the exploding jeep, you’ll have to wait. But it forced me into buying a car cheap and quick when I moved to Maryland in August. Basically, the cheapest car I could find that was Maryland State inspected on craigslist. And so I got my $1300 Sentra. It started to accrue so many problems in so little time that it was evident I’d never be able to sell it again. It wouldn’t pass inspection, it wouldn’t pass emissions, it wouldn’t even pass a moped on the sidewalk. I found myself wishing that something would go wrong with the engine or transmission just so I could justify getting rid of the damn thing. Well, I got my wish about a month ago.
Driver’s Side Window Stuck Up – This is especially annoying at drive thrus and toll booths. It actually used to just make this metallic grinding noise about halfway down (and up) and you just had to push (or pull) it the rest of the way while holding the button down. I had gotten good enough at it where I rarely got my fingers caught in it on the way up, when it just stopped altogether. Honestly it’s probably better that way. Thankfully, this has nothing to do with the performance of the car but God forbid I get pulled over and have to explain that. C-
Exhaust System Banging Against Gas Tank & Back of Car – The literal day after I bought the car, it started making this banging noise. Turns out the guy who sold it to me had basically glued the exhaust system together long enough to fool me into buying it. After Jamie (my nephew daddy) helped (he did it – I helped) find another tailpipe and fasten it on, it was rigged to only bang against the gas tank rather than have a hole in it. But it still wouldn’t pass emissions and it made the same annoying noise and now we added a much higher risk of explosion for a part that has nothing to do with the performance of the vehicle. Thankfully I met Jen before she ever saw the car. C+
Brakes Are Broken – So I went to my mechanic the last time to get new front brakes because every time I tried to stop, the car pulled to the right and smoke started coming up from the front right tire. I figured that was bad. So the mechanic replaced the front brakes and told me that the rear cylinder was leaking so bad that he recommended that I either replace it or I don’t drive for more than another “two days” with that car. Well, I wasn’t about to shell out $500 for a car that probably wouldn’t sell for that. And so I took those two days and just drove for another 2 months with one hand on the emergency brake. A worthwhile non-investment. B
Faulty Transmission – Finally, something that I can’t overlook. The car won’t get out of first gear. I came to this realization on the Capital Beltway. This is the second car of mine that died on 495. It’s not a very forgiving environment. In fact, I had to put my left turn signal on to ensure everybody would try to pass me on the left so I could get off the highway on the right. So it is dead. But I managed to get the car back home and I know of 4 or 5 used car & junk lots I could actually drive the car to in first gear. Better than a hole in the engine. But not by much. D-
Missing Windshield Gasket – I was driving up 83 after work when I saw the rubber gasket that went around my windshield blowing in the wind. Before I had any other thoughts, it went flying off onto the highway. Now I’m sure it’s not an expensive part, but it seems like an important one. Right now, gravity is the only thing keeping my windshield on. While I don’t expect gravity to ever stop working, it would be nice to have some insurance. And duct tape is apparently not the answer. Duct tape is like Superman tape that will stick to anything – but rain is it’s kryptonite. So I’m living without a gasket, which will only matter in the case that gravity ceases to work or if I flip my car into a position which gravity cannot help it stay on. Either way, I got much bigger problems than my windshield. B+
Buying foreign and wearing polos,
Still Standing Right Here…
QOTD credits (7/1/09): John Chapin – (Thank God you already have a girlfriend)