A Tale of Two Cars

This is a tale of two cars. And two people.  And two thousand dollars.

It started two months ago. And it resulted in two weeks of no blogging.

Well, I can’t really blame it on the cars. But it didn’t help that’s for sure.

The boy and I are 11 months apart. That means we both get to renew our licenses at the same time each year. We both drive old cars and in Ontario old cars have to be emissions tested every 2 years. Our cars also happen to both be built in odd years so that means they get to be e-tested on the same years. All of this together means on even years we both have to make sure our cars are going to pass the e-test and then get the plates renewed. Money. Both cars cost us money and they aren’t even polite enough and to do it at different times of the year – you know spread out the love a little. Not our cars, all at once is apparently the family motto.

So two months ago we got both cars ready for their big tests. The Camry didn’t need much, an oil change and they changed a couple filters – done. The red car hasn’t had a muffler on it in about a year. It fell off – so the Boy put it in the trunk and washed his hands of the whole thing. That’s no way to pass a test – it needed a muffler and a Cadillac converter (I know it’s catalytic but the Boy likes to say for what it cost us it should turn our Buick into a Cadillac). The Boy’s mechanic friend said this was the last hurrah for the red car. Let’s put it this way – it has squishy parts. I don’t know much but I know there isn’t anything on the outside of the car that should be described as “squishy” or “crumbly” or “so rusted out I can put my hand through it”.

$750 later they both passed the e-test.

Then, two weeks ago I drove the red car to work and it made a grindy sound when I tried to start it. I tried again and it went on. I went to work. When I came home it did it again. I told the Boy. He said “what do you mean it made a grindy sound?” When my answer “it sounded grindy” didn’t appease him he went outside to hear for himself.

It died.



Nothing but grindy sounds that is.

We called a tow-truck.

The tow-truck guy tried to boost it, he said that might at least get it to the repair shop that’s only 2km away. He took one look at the battery and said “you know you have to replace these every once and a while right?”

The Boy doesn’t believe in preventative maintenance on old cars. I would like the record to show that I said we needed to replace the battery when it started randomly not starting for me over a year ago. Just sayin’.

The boost didn’t work. We had it towed 2km to the shop.


Once we got it there they said they’d look at it first thing the next day. The Boy and I went home and I broached the topic.  How much are we going to put into this car? What are you willing to pay and when do we say – not worth it, and cut our losses?  Let’s just say the Boy and I had very different opinions on the matter.

A new battery, a new starter and $750 later the car is purring and the engine light that’s been on for at least 2 years is off.

I broached the topic again.  How much more are we going to put into this freakin’ car? I voted $0.  When I was adding up the costs I wasn’t even interested in putting gas money in the car.  Done would be an understatement.

This time the Boy agreed, we would start looking for a second car.  We would decide what kind of car we wanted, put the word out, look around and if we found something great – we’ll make the purchase, if the car dies again – we’ll be a little more prepared and don’t have to run scared to the mechanic.

I thought we were done.

But I’m now convinced the cars talk to each other.   One week later… the Camry battery light came on.  I called the Boy.

He thought I should be fine and told me to continue on my way to my meeting.

Then I got a text… “Don’t start the car until you call me”


Long story short by the time I got the second car in a week to the lovely mechanic the dashboard looked like this:

If you’re thinking right now – that can’t be good, you would be right. Now imagine driving down the highway (since your husband told you to get home as quickly as possible and stay in the right lane just in case it dies – comforting right?!) as each of these lights come on one by one.

Heart palpitations. And a lot of talking to the car. If you’re picturing me stroking the steering wheel and saying out loud to the car “Come on little car. Just get to the mechanic.  I know you’re sad but I’m taking you to feel better.  Were you talking to the red car? Did you think we were going to replace you? We would never do that! You’re our favourite and we’re planning on your being with us for at least another 4 years. Come on little car. Almost there.”  I would wonder if you are either a. psychic or b. a creeper who has cameras installed in my car – because you would be 100% correct.

A new alternator, alternator belt, oil change and $560 later, both cars are now happy.

But $2000+ later… I am not.

The End.

One response

  1. I know exactly how you felt driving the car with all those lights on. Fun story for you…

    Once upon a time I was driving J’s car and a light came on. I had no idea what it meant so he looked in the book and said “Oh…it should be fine…just drop me off and go directly home and then don’t drive it until I come over.” (Side note…this is before we lived together.) Guess what? It wasn’t fine. No, in fact, it had a bad alternator and it broke down on the highway, right under the George Washington Bridge. You know what the NYPD doesn’t like? Cars stopping under the bridge. It’s considered a security risk. Luckily, the officer was super nice and hung out with me until the tow truck came. Here’s another fun NYC fact I learned that day…if you break down on a highway in NYC, you have to get one tow truck to tow you off the highway and another to tow you to the mechanic. It’s awesome. Also…the first guy will leave you in the sketchiest area possible and you will have to wait over an hour in the freezing cold, alone…in the sketchiest area possible!

    Anyway…we got the car fixed…all was good as new.

    Fast forward a few years and we’d just bought our house, but were still living in the city. We were leaving the city to head up to the house and the same light came on. Our mechanic is outside of the city (near the house) which is half an hour away. Towing would have cost $150. So we turned off the radio and anything that would drain the battery and we crossed our fingers and prayed really hard to get to the house before the car died. I, too, stroked the dashboard and bargained with the car and I set milestones…”Just let us get to the highway…just let us get to the toll…just let us get off the highway.” Luckily, we made it to the house before it died that time.

    Then we traded that sucker in for a new car. Because I was done with the drama.

    Good luck finding a new one! (and sorry for the crazy long comment!)

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