Mario Villalobos

My Car

I slept in about an hour and a half this morning, which felt amazing, but once I woke up and started my day, I remembered that I had set up an appointment with the mechanics at 8 AM and I really didn’t want to honor it. Once eight o’clock rolled around, though, I decided that I have to take my car in because of the issues I’ve been having with it. So I get dressed, pack my bag with my laptop and the New Yorker, and I go outside.

A Sheriff’s car was parked in our parking lot, perpendicular to my parked car. I could still pull out if I backed up, pulled forward, backed up, pulled forward, backed up, pulled forward. It was the Sheriff’s, but I was still pissed. So I walk up to my car, and I see two officers get out of the car. They had just pulled in, apparently, and when I see the main sheriff walk out and we see each other, I saw that I recognized him. He’s the cop in charge of my school where I work. He makes fun of me for living where I do, and he tells me he’s here to kick one of my neighbors out because someone has a restraining order on them and their home is inside the unauthorized distance of the victim or something. He goes up to talk to them and I go into my car.

I turn the ignition and nothing happens. This happened yesterday, so I thought I’d repeat what I did then. I let the car cool a bit, a few seconds, then I tried again. Nothing. No lights turned on and there simply wasn’t any sign of life. I keep trying for the next few minutes, pumping the gas, pumping the brakes, trying everything I could to get it to run. Nothing. At this point, the Sheriff walks out of the apartment, his partner still inside, and he comes over to talk to me. “What’s going on?” he asks. “Don’t know,” I say. He takes a look at my car, notices that nothing happens when I turn the ignition, and tells me it could be the battery. So he pulls around and parks his car near my hood, pulls out some jumper cables, and we hook them up to my battery and his battery.

After letting it idle for a few minutes, I try the ignition again and stuff starts happening. Lights turn on, the car seems like it wants to start but doesn’t. The sheriff tells me to wait about 5 minutes so the battery can charge. We do and still nothing. All my lights are on, and I can play radio and whatnot, but the car won’t start. During all this time, I noticed this solid red light at the top right of my dashboard every time I go to turn on the car. I call the mechanics and tell them that I had an appointment but that I wasn’t able to make it yet because I can’t get my car started. They tell me it could be the security system.

When this happened to me yesterday, I noticed everything in my car was reset. The clock on the radio read 12:00, so I assumed something was up, but I, for some reason, assumed it was the computer system and not the battery. This morning the same thing happened, the clock on the radio read 12:00. Maybe, the mechanic said, when the battery shut off and reset everything, it reset the security system, too. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything about it because my car fob doesn’t work, which I bitched about all way back in December. I told the sheriff what the mechanic told me, and he thought we should disconnect the battery cables and then try it again. By this point, we both noticed that the cables looked really corroded, and it took a bit of effort to disconnect them, but once he did, we waited. After about 20 seconds, he connected them back, pinned the jumper cables back onto the battery, and I tried again.

The car started beautifully. I thanked the Sheriff profusely for helping me out. He said it was fine for all the times I helped him out with his computer at school. We said our goodbyes, I drove to the mechanics, and I dropped my car off. About 4-5 hours later, I returned with a working car. Sure enough, the thing they had to do was replace those battery cables because they were too corroded to work well anymore. It cost me $86, which is a far cry from the $690 I paid a few weeks ago to get my power steering pump and switch replaced.

I hope this really is the last time I have to take my car into the mechanics this year. First California in January, then Montana in January, then two more times in July. I’m done with these car problems. It has motivated me, though, to do regular maintenance on my car. If I simply popped the hood and looked at the battery, I could’ve noticed the corrosion. I didn’t. I need to learn more about this. I’m tired of feeling so helpless when it comes to my car.