I Now Have Literally No Excuse Not To Fix My 10 Cars So May The Wrenching Begin

Illustration for article titled I Now Have Literally No Excuse Not To Fix My 10 Cars So May The Wrenching Begin
Photo: David Tracy

I counted my cars today, which is something my therapist (who, incidentally, doubles as a junkyard operator) told me never to do. But with my go-to ’yard closed due to the coronavirus, Beauregard and I haven’t met in weeks, so I’ve slipped a bit. Turns out, I own 10 cars, many of which are broken. With what’s going on in the world right now, now’s the time to fix them. I have no excuse not to.


I’ll begin with a count of my automobiles and their main maladies:

  1. 1948 Willys CJ-2A (suspected rod bearing wear; brake pedal shaft worn)
  2. 1985 Jeep J10 (faulty heater flap, cab rust repair, dash lights, speedometer)
  3. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle (engine rings/bearings)
  4. 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer (rusted out brake lines, ignition system)
  5. 1991 Jeep Cherokee (front axle is bent, needs fender and bumper end cap)
  6. 1991 Jeep Comanche (suspected wheel bearing issue)
  7. 1992 Jeep Cherokee (leaky transfer case, suspected cracked cylinder head)
  8. 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee (headlight broken, lower control arm bent)
  9. 2000 Jeep Cherokee (suspected bad shocks, front track bar bad)
  10. 2003 Kia Rio (suspected O2 sensor, starter relay)

If we’re being honest with ourselves, those are some seriously abbreviated ailment lists; no way in hell could I actually keep any of those cars’ issues down to a single line. Still, those are the most important problems, and to take care of them all will probably take me a crapload of time.

Turns out, that’s exactly what I have.

Illustration for article titled I Now Have Literally No Excuse Not To Fix My 10 Cars So May The Wrenching Begin

I haven’t been grocery shopping since Sunday, March 15, and even then, I barely bought anything. Over the past 10 days, I’ve been awed by just how much food I’ve had hidden in my cupboards—hundreds of dollars worth that likely would have just sat had it not been for this covid-19 health crisis and my strong desire to avoid humans even if it means I have to eat just-add-water pancakes for 10 days in a row. (I don’t recommend it. Eating too many powder-based pancakes is like putting Stop-Leak in a radiator. And believe me, you don’t want that).

Expenses have dropped markedly from not going out or driving much, especially now that I’ve reached into my forgotten food reserves. This led me to contemplate a simple bit of arithmetic:


Broken Cars + Time + Money = ?

It’s a tough one, I know. But after many, many hours toiling with my TI-83 graphing calculator, protractor, Matlab script, Raspberry Pi computer, and SolidWorks computer-aided design software, an answer popped up on my Casio CA53W-1 watch:

Illustration for article titled I Now Have Literally No Excuse Not To Fix My 10 Cars So May The Wrenching Begin

I checked my script over and over, and pored through my hand-calculated Laplace Transforms, but everything looked right. And since math never lies, it appears that indeed, the answer to my current life situation is: Wrench. I have no choice, really.

I have so many vehicles to mend, so much time, no huge expenses (but of course, I recognize the risks associated with a dwindling economy)—I’ve run out of excuses, really. I felt the same way last week as I sat in the living room of what had to be the messiest house in the whole of Michigan. I had lots of time to clean and no excuse not to, and now I’m no longer eating in a dining room filled with greasy engine parts. Hopefully, this pattern of guilt yielding progress continues with my fleet of junkers.


Wrenchfest 2020 beings today in the House of the Misfit Jeeps. I’ll be tearing into an AMC 360 V8, and broadcasting my work on my Instagram page and that of Jalopnik.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.


Just Jeepin'

My problem with motivation is that I’m turning 50 this year. Not old, but old enough.

I genuinely don’t have high hopes of living through this, so why should I care about any of my backlog of projects?