Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blinded By The Light

You have probably realized by now that I can be kind of a doof.

There are certain things I don't understand and frankly I don't care to understand them, though to be honest I probably should. At the top of the list is: Car Stuff.

I use the term "Car Stuff" to encompass all things car related other than going to the car wash, getting gas, and taking it for maintenance/oil changes. I don't know the proper term for the things that spit water on your windshield when you put your wipers on. I don't know why my car drives like crap in the rain even though I just got new fancy tires. These are the mysteries of life that plague me when I stop to think about it for a second. And some of my biggest fears in life are car related fears. Breaking down on an abandoned road late at night (because obv. I traverse abandoned roads all the time). Randomly losing control of my car on a bridge and careening off of it.

And inexplicable lights on the dashboard.

You know the ones - the ones that are in shapes of components of your car's engine that alert you to the fact that something isn't working right. These lights scare the crap out of me because 1) I have an unhealthy attachment to my car (her name is Lola) and 2) Things that go wrong with cars tend to be Expensive Things.

So I was NONE TO PLEASED when a random light went off on my drive home today. I noticed it about five minutes from my apartment and immediately began to silently flip out. What is that light!!? Has it been on for a while and I just didn't notice? OMG MY CAR FEELS LIKE ITS CRAPPING OUT (which wasn't true but you know you see the light and you think, this is it). So I immediately get out my phone and call the mechanic on my street and blurt out to the man who answers the phone "There is a weird light going off on my dashboard can I bring it in for you to look at?". He asked me which light went off and you know, telling him the one that looks like a video camera/robot just didn't provide him with the kind of information he needed. He told me to bring it in in a few hours but I was not satisfied "Can't I just bring it in noq and you can look at the light and tell me what it means?"

Apparently it doesn't work like that.

So, we get off the phone and I contemplate calling another mechanic when a thunderbolt of genius strikes me: Look in the Car's Manual. So while stopped in the mother of all traffic jams, silently praying my car doesn't explode because BY GOD WHAT DOES THAT LIGHT MEAN, I leafed through the Manual and came to find out it's an "Emissions Problem".

Say what?

As soon as I started to get pissed that my 2004 car was already having "Emissions Problems" (And this, the month that I have to get it registered), I read that if you don't twist your gas cap completely on, this can cause the light to go on.

And I just got gas yesterday.

A HA!!!

I pulled into a parking lot and checked the cap and lo and behold, it was barely on. I had just gotten my tank filled yesterday, and hadn't noticed that the attendant hadn't put the cap back on correctly and lo, my heart attack was for nothing.

So allow me to be your cautionary tale: If the video camera/robot light goes off in your car and you got gas recently, fear not.

And maybe, you know, learn something about your car other than her name is Lola.


Karen said...

I too share an unnatural fear of all things car related. Unfortunately, I have an experience that (in my mind at least) justifies this fear. A couple of years back, I picked my husband's car up from the mechanic. Less than 5 miles away, the car broke down. On an insanely busy road nonetheless. It was my worst fear realized. Onthe bright side, the necessary repair was covered by warranty. And a good thing - would have cost us $4000 otherwise!

Glad all is well with you and Lola!

Sarah said...

AH Karen that is also one of my fears. While I was in traffic on the phone with the mechanic I was petrified my car would just stall out right there during rush hour traffic on a busy street. EEK. I'm glad your experience was at least covered by warranty!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. I know a smidge about Car Stuff, but I refuse to actually use it unless forced. My husband asked what kind of maintenance I'd had done on Princess Consuela Bananahammock (she's The Princess for short) since I'd had her and my reply was, "um...oil changes, and um, some other...stuff."

Jzbell said...

I once did the same thing! Only I DID go to my mechanic, all worked up over the light, and he had to tell me it was the gas cap... at least you saved yourself the embarassment!! Of course, that was many years and many, many, MANY miles ago. Now when the lights come on, I try to ignore them and hope for the best. Because I too have an unhealthy attachment to my car. And I am in complete denial about ever having to give her up.

Sarah said...

haha Jzbell - Ignoring and Hoping For The Best = my MO when it comes to stuff like this.

wheresmymind said...

Hey...what is up with this??

I can't believe you two matched ;)

Sarah said...


Meg said...

Apparently if it's an orange light, it'll be okay for awhile but if it's a red light, you'd better pull over posthaste. I learned this in my early years of driving, when I drove a succession of beater cars that constantly had something wrong with them. The ill effects of those years show themselves even today - I always think there's something wrong with the Subaru, even though we just bought it.

I don't know what the point of this was. I guess that you're not alone in your supreme fear of the car breaking down.

Perfectly Plump Preppy said...

That totally happened to me with the gas cap only I didn't figure it out. The guy at my dealership did, um right after I read him the riot act and screaming that my brand new car was a lemon. Holy crap was I embarassed!

Glad to know it was only your gas cap though.

MarisaJosephine said...

i used to own a vw until recently i traded the F--er in for a Honda
and i am so happy that i did
VW is infamous for S--Ty things and stupid LIghts on the dashboard

yay it was just a gas cap

and i got my new car like 2.5 weeks ago and it got KEYED while i was visiting my friend on Houghs neck. BASTARDS!

i love jamie oliver.

Sarah said...

That sucks!! When I first got my car I was in Brighton visiting a friend and a band of hoodlums ripped the passenger side mirror of my car. I was LIVID. To this day I still kind of hate Brighton for that reason.

Nicky said...

Hahah! Oh those lights are my biggest fear too. One went off on my drive home from Boston on the night of my last class last semester. I feared for my life the whole way home. I should've feared for my wallet. Those repairs cost $500.00. And I needed follow-up work a few months later. Same price tag. Ugh.

Norwego said...

I fully support the "ignore the light(s) on the dashboard and the problem will go away" mentality.

I also got my driver's side mirror lopped off, when my car was parked on the street. Hoodlums!

Sarah said...

It;s the worst! Because of that, when Adam and I were first looking at apartments together I would not budge on the off-street parking neccesity. Parking on the street makes me edgy!

The Chic Chauffeur said...

hold up! you say that the attendant did not put the cap on correctly???? you have a gas attendant???? I am in awe of you? Now I really think that living in Kansas stinks. The only attendant I have also sleeps with me, and I have to do 'favors' for him to get him to pump my gas. I hope you know how lucky you are!! :) Have a good day!