Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I have stated several times before on this blog that the last automobile I owned that I could open the hood and perhaps fix a problem was the 1948 Chevrolet which I drove in my college days.  It was ten years old when I started.

I believe I have told you about the winter when the brakes went out. I was impoverished in those days and my college sat high on a hill above the rest of the town.  Whenever I had to go into town I would creep down a snow- and ice-covered hilly street in second gear, hoping against hope that no other traffic would be coming on the street at the bottom onto which I had to make a u-turn.  There never was and I would skid across the street backwards until my wheels struck the curb.  Then I could proceed on into town.

It went like this throughout the winter because I knew I didn't have enough money to get my brakes fixed.  And then spring came, the snow melted and for some strange reason I had some money in my pockets.  So I nervously took the car to a garage and waited for the expensive repair estimate.  Finally the mechanic came out and said something like "you're good to go.  That'll be eighty-five cents!"

"What?", I said.

"You just needed some brake fluid," he explained.

OMG!  I had spent all winter risking life and limb when all I needed was some inexpensive brake fluid!

Well, that should tell you all you need to know about my automobile repair expertise.

Until today.

We recently bought a brand new 2013 Nissan Altima car.  But over the past week or so we began to notice a rattle which seemed to be coming from the dashboard on the drivers' side.  We had less than 2,800 miles on the car and already it was falling apart!  After the latest drive by my wife she came home, steaming, and said "We've got to get that thing fixed!"

So I took it to the local Nissan dealer, whose service manager said that day was not a good day and we made an appointment for this morning.  I showed up right on time, having first removed everything from the car that might cause the rattle. A few minutes later he asked me to go for a test drive with the mechanic.  We had a tough time finding a road with bumps in it that caused the rattle but he did hear it and confirmed that I was not crazy.  Back to the dealership.  I returned to the waiting room, he took the car back into the shop.

About 15 minutes later the service manager came out with the verdict.  I braced myself for the bad news.  He said "the mechanic found the problem.  Your sun visor wasn't clipped."

"You're kidding!" I responded.

But he wasn't.

I drove home with the radio turned off, listening intently for any tiny rattle.  There weren't any.  The car drove like a dream.  Silently.  Rattle-less.

Car repair.  It's not for amateurs.


  1. LOLOL - this is exactly why I wait forever before getting my car checked (& myself checked for that matter) - I'm always afraid that it will be something simple that I should have figured out :)

  2. It took a while to respond to this, because I had to pick myself up off the floor from laughing so hard!!
    But you know, I've been there and understand. Sometimes the only thing you can do is say DUH!!! in your best Doofus voice!!

  3. Once K's car had a warning light come on so I nursed it back to the Toyoto dealer. He had it about 5 minutes and told me "no charge"....it seems the gas cap wasn't screwed back on tight. The fuel system needs some kind of vacuum or something like that and air was getting past the seal on the loose cap. Who knew?


  4. Your car was probably under warranty but I'm glad nothing was seriously wrong with it.

  5. When my daugther Kristen was in college, her roomate had a beater Volkswagon GTI. My kid, who I had schooled in checking oil and all the other vitals, asked her roomate why she had a piece of electrical tape on the speedometer pod, her roomie said "there's a red light that is always on and it drives me crazy so I taped over it." It was the oil warning light!

  6. I remember changing oil once and not being able to figure out why the crankcase kept taking oil without filing up. Then I saw a black river flowing down the driveway; and out into the alley, and only then I realized that I'd forgotten to put the crankcase plug back before pouring new oil in.

    Ever since, Rapid Oil Change has performed this highly technical work.

  7. That is so funny especially since the same exact thing happened to me. Fortunately, I figured it out before I took it in.

  8. I am glad you didn't call Car Talk and embarrass Arizona. Our politicians do a good enough job of that.

  9. Repairing a car is definitely not for amateurs to handle. They might make the damage worst. Well, it's a good thing that the rattle sound disappeared. Is your car under warranty that day? Anyway, I love the car makes nowadays because of the innovative parts they used. Like for example, the advanced emergency braking system and the new electronic wedge braking technology. I know for sure that they can't easily be taken down by any weather condition.