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.