Last week, my daily driver slid into a curb and blew out a tire, so, like any normal person, I ditched it in a grocery store parking lot. With that car on the fritz, all five of my vehicles are broken, proving for the final time that I am indeed very, very far over my head.
When I bought my second car, my 1996 Jeep Cherokee, my mom asked me why I needed two cars. “In case one breaks,” I responded, half-jokingly. Then the engine mount bolts broke on my ‘92, and indeed, that second car came up clutch.
Now I own five cars, and you’d think that, with four backups, I’d always have something to drive. But somehow, because I’m either the unluckiest or dumbest person alive, my four safety factors have failed me, and all five cars are on the fritz.
I am stranded.
I am forced to bum rides off my friends, who make fun of me for my never-ending struggle to maintain my fleet of junkers. I sit there in the passenger’s seat wondering where I went wrong.
I look back on how this all started. How did I get to this point, the very lowest point in gearhead existence? How did I wind up becoming a stage 2 hoarder?
I think moving from the city to the ‘burbs into a place with a garage and a big driveway was the start of what would become the early stages of my Jeep hoarding problem. I moved to the suburbs when my ‘96 XJ cracked its cylinder head, leaving me with two dysfunctional cars abandoned in the FCA parking lot, and no way to make my 30 mile commute. The only logical thing to do was move to a place with a garage, where I could nurture my XJs back to health.
Yes, I literally moved so I could take care of my dear, wounded XJs. Once I had the XJs all buttoned up, I found that I had plenty of time and a little jingle in my pocket—it was time to start buying more cars.
This is where I went wrong.
“Now that I have a garage and a driveway, why not buy the Jeep J10 I’ve always wanted? Why not tackle a $600 Moab build? You know what, I could also use a winter beater, why not buy Freddy’s (Tavarish’s) junky Accord to putt around town in?”, I thought.
All of this “why not” thinking got me into trouble, and now I own a handful vehicles—three XJs, a J10 and an Accord, all in various states of disrepair.
At first, everything was fine. I fixed my XJ’s broken engine mount bolts, I replaced my ‘96's cylinder head, and all was well. But then I blew up my four-liter while off-roading. Then my J10's tranny started acting up. Then the white Jeep blew an engine mount bolt.
The other two cars, the $600 XJ and the ‘95 Accord, were junk from day one, but they at least drove. But, since I’ve been building the $600 Jeep for Moab, that car has been undriveable for weeks, in part because the lift kit introduced some serious driveline vibrations.
So that left me with the Accord which, despite its bad clutch master cylinder and water pump, still got me to and from the junkyard and O’Reilly Auto Parts with little drama. But last week, I slid into a curb hard, and blew out my front tire.
No problem, just grab the spare, bolt it up, and be on your way, right? Nope. The spare had a hole in it.
I think the lesson here is don’t let your big driveway tempt you. Pace yourself. If I had bought these last four cars over the span of four years, I’d be in good shape, and my front yard wouldn’t be filled with axles, leaf springs and transfer cases.
But instead, I bought four cars over the span of one year, and that’s ultimately what did me in. Well, that and the giant mud pit.