Welcome back to Garage of Horror, where we share your worst wheeled experiences. Today's installment asks the classic question: Is this damn car trying to kill me? Or am I trying to get myself killed?
Let's just get this out of the way right now: Mackenzie W. — You were in an abusive relationship with your truck. But that's okay-you're among friends here. We've all loved the one that hurt us, gone the extra mile for the one who refused to move an inch, bled for the one who would never, ever care. But we didn't all have the chance to turn our abusive relationship into a few thousand dollars. You did the right thing in the end.
Now please let me preface this with I know a lot of this story will be laughs
at my expense. Which I am fine with I never claimed to be a rocket surgeon. However I am intelligent; I just don't think things thru all the way this story is what I think of every time I get the feeling something might go wrong. I then re-evaluate my plans immediately.
Cash for clunkers was just about to wrap up when I had a conversation with a coworker of mine about my beat to dog snot ole' s10. It had hit a guard rail 2 times was rusting to bits had more miles than Jesus' sandals on it. I knew time was coming to take it to the yard. That's when I realized I could get 3k on $4C for it. But what car to get? O the choices! I finally had my heart set on a 2008 Saturn Astra. But it was end of the year 09 where could I find a year old car that was still considered new. The answer was calling every Saturn dealer in the state. All them turned up nothing. Finally In a neighboring state, I came across one that had turned back in after being driven on Saturn's X many days no return policy. Great! So I told my girlfriend (at the time now wife) We need to get the paperwork together head over and pick this car up.
So I get home from work we search and search and find nothing it's now 11:00 at night and I say "It has to be at my parents house." We get into our car and head over we had to go here anyway to pick up the S10. After searching here for hours we decide to sleep up and start the search in the morning. As the morning comes my Mother informs me you can get a instant title at the Sec. of State. Which is in a town right on our way. Most excellent! After this small hiccup we decide it's time to hit the road.
This is where the horror begins. I go to start this truck up and it turns over but won't fire. (My little sister had been driving the truck for some time and parked it because "she was scared to drive it anymore") I think the gas gauge must be broken among the another multitude of problems. I mean "You don't just park a vehicle because you it runs out of gas." (Was my train of thought) First I use starting fluid and it turns over and dies. I run out of that quickly and think that pouring some gas on a rag over the intake should be about the same. I have my wife start the engine. FAWOOF! I am now holding onto a flaming rag and the engine stays running a bit longer. So in my insane reasoning I pour more gas on the rag and right into the intake. What I didn't notice is how it also spilled in around the engine bay. I have her crank it over. Flames! So high they come up over the hood! Everywhere!
The wife jumps out the truck, runs to the front to see the engine bay ablaze. I start smacking the flames down with the rag in my hand. Little to remember it's covered in gas! I am now holding a blazing rag beating down the flames of hell to try and save what horror I have made. Flaming like a maniac I accomplish the task and put down the fire and am now swinging around a fire soaked rag trying to put it out. Throwing it to the ground and stomping on it brings an end to the fire. My wife looks like she just witnessed my own funeral. I assure her it's alright and to try it again. Thank God! She refused listen to me and says she will no longer help with doing that, that she "Is going to the gas station to put fuel into a can and she will be back."
So in my stubborn bull headed ignorance I hop in the truck and notice the keys are gone. The tumbler has been broken since day one with this so I just crank it over anyway. It won't start. I get out and there my wife is with a look that could kill staring at me. I will always remember that look a mix of, how the hell did you just do that? And sheer unadulterated anger. She throws the key at me and makes me promise not to try to start it again. Alright, I agree. From there she returns with the gas can we put it in and magically we are on our way to the gas station to fill up.
We arrive at the gas station with new issues. While filling up I decide I am going to wash our windows and get everything ready for the great trip. While doing this I cut my arm on the truck's broken antenna ripping a four inch gash down my skin. We don't have a first aid kit something I put in all my vehicles since said trip. So I use her hair tie and a gas station napkin to repair my arm. Ok great everything is set we head out on the open road. Or so we thought.
A mile away from the express way the front tire blows out on the truck. So I get out to change it. While I am on the side of the road changing this tire I am passed by two cops who ask if I need any help, I assure them I have it under control and thanks for the offer. A third motorcycle cop pulls up to my wife behind me and has his lights on so people will get over and I can have some room to work and not worry about being road kill. I dearly appreciate this. (After talking to my wife about the cop she said he was nice but they spent the whole time cracking jokes about my makeshift bandage, and other hilarities at my expense. Still worth it though for safety's sake.) The only tire I have is the spare. The "Do not exceed 50 MPH or 50 miles." Spare not the full size. So we have to make another detour to the used tire place to pick up a 80 mile tire. Which just means I figured that if the trip was 130 miles the 50 mile tire would get us some of the way there the next tire would take us the rest of the way. So we buy a 25 dollar tire. Then hit the open road.
20 miles on the expressway the wife's car dies and she doesn't know why. It won't turn over so we jump it and it takes right off. (Battery cables loose or something.) We start driving, which thankfully is pretty uneventful until we have to stop for the night.
We didn't have much money so we decide that we can sleep in the S10 cab for free, wait the six hours and go end this nightmare. As I try to sleep my back hurts something fierce. Like rolling needles down it sharp stabbing pains all along it. Doing all this work I had forgotten I get sunburn worse than a vampire on the equator. So I am writhing in pain so bad I wake my wife up. After about an hour of just trying to tough it out. We head to the local wenty-four hour drug store. We buy stock in aloe and Benadryl. The aloe doesn't do much I end up taking one Benadryl an hour just to sleep. Waking in racking agony. Finally the morning comes.
As we roll into the parking lot and hand the man the keys he says do you need anything from it? I simply reply "I never want to see it again." The drive home was very nice in our new car and we love it very much it made such a drastic impact on us that the wife was able to use it for a small cake business she runs. I couldn't have been happier.
Now like I said a lot of this is at my expense which I am fine with. But I just want everyone to know I did love that truck in many ways it was dependable when I when I needed it to be.
Once in awhile I do miss it.
At your own expense, Mackenzie? No — to your eternal credit. You had the bravery and the humility to share your tale of woe with us, and believe me, this crowd can relate. We just hope your habit of getting yourself into injurious jams like this has proven useful in your new job with the United States Army.
Thank you for your service, Specialist Mackenzie W.-to your country and to your fellow Jalops.
Garage of Horror is a recurring feature where we share your automotive nightmares. Some are mild, some are wild, but all are moments - some funny, some painful, some outlandish - that you'd rather not repeat. Have your own Garage of Horror story? Email it here with the subject line "Garage of Horror."