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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cars

Inspired by loneislander.

When I turned 17, my Uncle gave me his old 1990 Ford Escort. This car had been in my family for a very long time, nearly everyone had driven at one time (either just one time, or for a semi-permanent period). I was the last one to drive it.

Blackened part was my college's parking pass. :X

This car had over 150k miles on it, and lots of problems with it. The main problem I had with it (towards the end of its life) was with the starter and alternator. Always at the worst time, of course. The plus side to this car, however, was that its brakes were EXCELLENT! I felt safe when I was in this car, since I knew I would be able to stop short. Sure, it was slow, ugly looking (I hate red), and had problems, but for a first car, it felt great to be so safe. The steering was a lot better than my current car too... But thanks to all the problems I had with the car, I actually learned a fair amount of car things. One big thing was how to change a car battery.

I never was really into cars like other guys. As long as it drives and I feel safe in it, I was fine. I don't know names of other cars when people start name dropping them, so I could care less if someone had a Miata or thundercougarfalconbird. Needless to say, I hardly knew anythign about the intimate parts of the car either, so when problems came up, I turned to my dad for help. My dad isn't a mechanic, but knows enough to find what the problems of a car are at least. Thanks to my alternator problems, my battery apparently wasn't charging while the car was driving. We got a second battery, and so, far a temporary solution until I had money, I would charge one battery in the house while another would be placed in the car. About every two days I would have to go into the car and change my battery. I believe I became a bit of a pro at it after a week of doing this. I recall a time that this process ended up completely failing, however.

An old friend of mine invited me up to his place one night to hang out. He lives way upstate from me, and since my family doesn't like me having friends over at the house, i decided to go to him. I freshly changed the battery in the car and went up. After hanging out till like 12am, I started to head back. On the highway, the headlights started to dim. I quickly turned off my music and the heater to conserve battery power, but it was no use. Soon the lights went off, so I put on my emergency lights so people could still see me (surprised they worked still) and quickly called home. In the end, my mother and sister had to drive out with the spare battery from the house so I could get the car home. Finally made it home at 3am.

During the time of my car's failings, I had an opportunity to buy another car in excellent condition for a very good price. it is my car still today, but has its own problems (of course). My grandfather (may he rest in peace) knew of my great grandmother's neighbor who had a car she was not using for a very long time, and could use some cash. Long story short, I bought a 95 Dodge Spirit that had only 40k miles on it for 1000 bucks. The car was in excellent condition for its age, 6 cylinder (scary fast compared to my red car), and... AUTOMATIC WINDOWS & LOCKS! :D It was such a huge upgrade in comparison! Since my old car was actually doing okay at the time, however, I only ended up using the car sparingly. Then, my dad's van ended up breaking down, so I let him use it instead until he could get another car. This ended up being for a long period of time, too. A problem occurred with this arrangement at one point, forcing me to use my cousin's car for a few months though.

My cousin who I am closest to had two cars at the time just like me; her first car which she painted mushrooms, peace signs, and other hippie-like things, and great-grandma's car which was ANCIENT. She had to alternate between the two cars to keep them going (since great grandma didn't want to get rid of her car even though she couldn't drive it, plus either one of the cars could die at any time... best to have a back up just in case). My red car was starting to have constant problems again, and dad really needed my just-bought car for work, so I worked out an arrangement with my cousin and one of her cars until I could scrape the funds for the red car once more. I ended up driving the hippie car

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of it. This car was sort the opposite of the red car with the breaks, but had better acceleration. It also had vent problems, so carbon monoxide came into the car if you turned on the heat. It also had manual steering, which took some getting used to, but I later found out the tires were causing it to be more difficult than necessary... Some air in the tires made manual steering feel better than power steering! I got a lot of strange looks while driving, and with me having long hair too made me look like a hippy I think (even though I dressed raver-like/punk). One time I was sitting at a light and someone from the other direction was passing by and honked their horn, and yelled, "YEAH! PEACE MAN!" Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the short time I had with it.

The hippie mobile was returned to my cousin when the semester was over, and during the break from college, mom got a new car so dad got her old car, and I got my newer car back. Though the red car was doing okay at that time (yeah, it had those good periods and bad periods), I decided I was done with it, and ended up donating it to a charity. I wouldn't want to try selling that car to anyone, too many problems to make much money off it. Finally having a car with speed and looking at least semi modern was great! Even better was that it was green, my favorite color! Unfortunately, I had my first accident in this car, which really shook me up for a period of time.

I don't have a picture of it other than the accident photo.

What happened was this guy was coming from the other direction and made a left (right from my point of view) a bit too hastily in front of me and another car (two lanes). The guy even told the police officer, "I cleared the first car fine..." which just ruined his argument for it being my fault. Besides the whole accident thing, the guy and his wife were kind enough to me socially. we both knew we had to exchange information and call an officer to make a ruling, so we didn't argue or anything. We both just said what we felt once and then waited for the officer. I called my father since I was scared shitless. In the end, they had to pay me for damages, to which their insurance said my car was totaled and gave me 1000 bucks for repairs. Awesome enough, I only needed less than $500 to repair the car, so I ended up making money off the thing.  Of course, my luck doesn't hold out like that... someone rear-ended my car WHILE IT WAS PARKED a year later and and ran off, leaving me with a steeper bill than my accident.

Right now, my (green) car is doing OKAY. Just got the brakes done a few months ago so it's drivable, but it hasn't had inspection for 3 years now... not just because it would fail, but the rearview mirror fell off and hasn't been wanting to stay on... and I think its illegal to drive without it (I still do though). It has all sorts of other problems but until I can get myself a job, I can't get the rest finished. :X

9 comments:

  1. Wow you have gone through many vehicles!
    My first car had 189k miles on it. Everyone would always compliment on how comfortable the seats were :D

    Too bad I never got a girl alone on those seats to really test them out.
    btw, it was a Park Avenue 1987. Pretty sweet.

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  2. YAY CARS :D. Hope you get that Rearveiw sorted out. I'm pretty sure it's illegal not to have one.

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  3. Good post! Looking forward to reading you next one

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  4. I have a friend that had such an old car it was good for at least 1 break down a week.

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  5. always useful to know about cars.

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  6. All I have is a Toyota Corolla, never got to switch around :O You have some pretty old school nice rides though

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  7. It's a ThunderPANTHERfalconbird, yeesh Tal, get the name right at least. :P

    But it's stories like this that really make me nervous about owning a car. I know how convenient it would be but at the same time there are so many problems associated with them it's just a pain in the ass.

    I'm waiting for the automatic driving cars by that Google may be developing. Until then, public transit for me.

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