What a cruel joke: Car picks bad time to puke

Published 2:01 pm Friday, October 12, 2012

I always joked my 2000 Ford Taurus would die on me at the worst possible time, and that I would end up either dead in a ditch or stranded in the middle of nowhere. Much to no one’s surprise, that tall tale became reality for me last week.

I was approaching Exit 187 on Interstate 90 when the car started to slow down on its own. It hovered around 70 mph for a bit before downshifting, and no amount of pressure I put on the gas pedal would make that car go faster. The car died completely close to the turn-off, but at the time I was too preoccupied to notice, as smoke started to rise from the back of my car’s front hood. I remembered the time my friend’s old car burst into flames in high school, and fearing the same would happen to me, I quickly got out of the car and moved 20 feet down the ditch before calling the fire department.

Though there was no fire in my car, my bank account lit up like a Christmas fireplace after the car was towed to a local auto shop. Auto shops and I have a long and storied history, unfortunately. I once spent more than $1,500 to replace the power steering and rack and pinion system in my car during college, and it seemed like every winter brought numerous trips to the repair shop and a drain on my wallet. That’s not including last winter, where an unfortunate accident years ago — someone drove into my parked car, causing me to replace the driver’s side back door with another one that never did fit right — was causing my car to pull and potentially veer off the road at high speeds. Needless to say, my car and I had been through a lot.

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This time was no different. A steel rod broke off from the motor, puncturing my coolant hose which sprayed coolant everywhere, including some of my heat gaskets (at least one of which was warped to begin with).

I couldn’t understand it. I took the car in every 3,000 miles for an oil change, got an occasional car wash, and tried to keep every fluid topped off at the recommended level. Yet here the car was, unfixable, and I was in need of new transportation.

I’m sure there was something I could have done to prevent it. I could have used more gas stabilizer in the gas tank during winter. I could have checked the coolant levels more often. But I guess it was simply time for the car to hit the junkyard in the sky. Now that I’m getting a new (read: used) car, I’m going to make sure to have that baby in at least once a year for a checkup. I wouldn’t want to be stranded in a ditch on the side of the freeway again.