Friday, April 16, 2010

It's Oil Changing Time. Yippee.

I just realized that my car is in dire need of an oil change. Fortunately, that realization did not come about because my car sputtered and died on the freeway, but because I actually looked at the little tag in the corner of the windshield and realized how overdue it is. You mean they’re serious about that 3 months or 3,000 miles thing?


Things like oil changes and tire rotations are not in my bag of tricks. Thus, I have to bring the vehicle to someone better qualified than I to perform such maintenance procedures. And I hate it. Why? Because I know absolutely nothing about the car’s mechanics. And, before you get all snarky on me and tell me about the myriad of classes I can take to learn about such things, let me just say that I don’t want to. I really don’t want to know the difference between a lug nut and a carburetor. Yeah, yeah – I know one is a whole lot bigger than the other and probably way more important, but I really don’t want to learn their functions.

One time, shortly after Vince and I met, he went into a long explanation about how a car’s engine operates. I tried really hard to pay attention, because, after all, we were still in the early phase of our relationship where everything the other person says is fascinating. Before the poor guy got to the part about fuel injectors, my eyes started to glaze over and I started to think that maybe – compared to this – root canals couldn’t possibly be all that bad. I managed to listen without interruption, but I changed the subject at the earliest possible opportunity. Probably I mentioned my next dentist appointment, but I can’t remember for sure.

Oh, c’mon. I’ll bet you Vince feels the same way when I go into minute detail about the pros and cons of waxing versus threading or anything shopping-related unless the word “steak” is mentioned.

In Vince’s defense, he might’ve thought I was actually interested in cars because I had done extensive research before purchasing my Mazda6, so I could tell him how many cylinders it has and what the horsepower is. I don’t technically know what those terms mean, except that a 6-cylinder car is gonna go faster than a 4-cylinder and I knew my car went fast.

Impressive, eh? Nah, I didn't think so either.

The problem with not knowing anything about car maintenance is that car mechanics get all happy when they see someone like me walking into their shop. Before I leave, they think they’ll have me convinced I need to replace every little doohickey and thingamajig in the car lest I face an immediate breakdown the next time I turn the ignition key.

Then, of course, I’m all defensive and keep saying “NO!” when they tell me what needs to be replaced, some of which might actually be required. But if one more guy at an oil change place pulls out the old air filter to show me how disgustingly filthy it is, I may just bean him over the head with it. I know the air filter is going to look filthy. That’s its job! It’s gonna look filthy a week after replacing it! (Hey! I guess maybe I have learned something about vehicle maintenance after all. Must be through osmosis or something because I’m sure I didn’t learn that on purpose.)

I have a friend whose granddaughter knows how to fix cars. I’m so impressed by that. A girl who actually likes getting her hands dirty and who knows what a head gasket is and where the timing belt is located. The best I can do is figure out where the window washer fluid goes. Not that I change it. That’s the benefit of putting up with a guy pushing a dirty air filter in my face – one of their jobs is to “top off” things like window washer fluid.

My very first car was a used Pinto. If you know anything about old cars, you know that the Ford Pinto was not a good car to own. They leaked oil. Copiously. Whenever I drove to Alliance, a 2-1/2 hour drive, I’d have to stop at the halfway point and replace at least two quarts of oil. I routinely carried a case in the trunk. I’d have truckers stopping to offer their assistance, but by that point, I was an old hand at funneling oil into its proper place under the hood of the car.

A year and many, many quarts of oil later, I replaced the car with a new one and promptly forgot how to add oil to the car. More likely, I refused to learn. Cleaning under my fingernails shouldn’t require lye soap and a heavy duty scrub brush.

One of the perks about being married is that vehicle maintenance is no longer strictly under my domain. Vince, being a car guy, is great at knowing what to do and when to do it where our vehicles are concerned. And few mechanics thrust the dirty air filter under his nose demanding that he inspect it and allow them to replace it. (Unless I was the one who took the car in for its last oil change and I automatically yelled “NO!” at them when they said I needed a new one.)

I suppose, however, I need to give Vince a heads-up that the car is past due for an oil change. Or maybe I’ll just let him find out by reading this…

Um…Honey…? What’cha doing this weekend??

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