Automobile care and awareness has become automobile paranoia.
After decades of driving cars pretty much into the ground because I have not taken care of them well, SR has me convinced that every time a light flickers or a sound is made that the car is going to BURST into flames.
I drive a 13 year old car. It's got about 145K miles on it. I drive at least 500 miles a week, seriously. So the car is gonna have issues. I don't know of any car that is made to handle that for a sustained period of time, let along after it's 13 years old. So I expect some issues on a regular basis.
However, because it has been ground into my head that I can't IGNORE my car the way I have in the past and the way I drive is not "conducive" to a car's long life, I am hyper vigilant about it.
What's the sound? Was that a light on the dashboard. Shit, why don't the lights flash long enough for me to see what fucking light it was??? It's driving weird Sir. It feels like it's "heavy." There's a "clicky sound." It's feels "jerky" I'm not moving. The oil light only seems to flash when I'm stopped or in slow traffic. It's smooths out when I get into 4th gear, or maybe that's third gear- wait, automatics have gears??
Yes, I am generally ignorant about cars and what makes them run. I was shocked to find that the "head gasket" was just a seal and not some huge chunk of the engine. I don't know cars. I don't WANT to know cars. I want my cars like I want my pain medication. Just fucking work.
So I have noticed some weird "jerkiness" that we deciphered was a misfire. Ok, replace a wire or something and the engine light flashing is gone, and it feels fine. Wait, there's the flashing engine light again. But it feels fine once the car is warmed up- no flashing engine light. Ok, so I will let it warm up. Yeah, it's fine now.
This morning I am letting the car warm up and when I finally get it- the engine light is on. It's not flashing, it's just a solid on. But wait, the engine doesn't feel jerky. So why is the light on?? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON????
So I drive it to the vets office, and then to get my nails done an come home. Maybe 10 miles tops. The entire time I am listening to the car run, I'm feeling the engine. Is it jerky? Is it idling too low, too high? I can't drive like this. I'm too busy and panicked listening to the car that I am not focused on the road.
I realize that I'm not a GREAT driver. I tend to take my foot off the gas a lot. I brake to late, I take off to hard. I neglect the fluids. OK, this has been drilled into my head. I have had my dad and SR have fixed my car enough times that they both feel entitled to tell me that my car shouldn't be so messy. And that I should drive better. And that I should PAY attention. So yes, I'm a bit paranoid now. I cannot drive 50+ miles to work safely when I'm constantly looking at the dash board for an engine or an oil light warning me of impending doom. I have a better chance of crashing into the car ahead of me because I was looking at the dashboard then actually rear ending someone- which I have also been known to do.
So I have gone from being ignorant to paranoid. I already reserved a rental car- and I'm going to take my car in today and have them figure out what the deal is with the light. And then I'm going to have my brakes checked next week. And then the motor mounts fixed- because while I am told that the motor will NOT fall out of the engine and this can wait til we have the money, it seems that something that fastens the ENGINE to the car should be addressed with a quickness- even though it's been like 6 or 7 months.
I'm going to drop more money than I want to on this, but you gotta spend money to make money right? And this car gets me to work.
And really, I don't want the car to burst into flames on the freeway.
I don't want to die in a 2001 Ford Focus.