Friday, August 11, 2006

Stupid Little Red Car


Wonder Woman's Pathfinder has been in the repair shop since last Thursday -- that's two Thursdays ago, not yesterday -- and I've been forced to drive the dealer's loaner in the interim. The reason for the protraction of the repair is too convoluted to go into, but if that fucker calls me up today and tells me they've delivered the wrong part again, I will not be responsible for my actions, and no jury on the planet would find me guilty.

The car is a Hyundai Accent, a subcompact sedan in a shade of glowing, candy-apple red that should never be seen in public. Its cheap plastic upholstery is spotted with revolting stains of unknowable and best-uninvestigated origin. The windshield wipers are a tattered and useless mess, the windshield-detergent tank was empty on delivery, the battery shows signs of imminent demise, and at any speed above 45 MPH the miserable junker shudders like a dog shitting a peach-pit. This morning, as I negotiated a tight turn, the thing emitted a loud klonk that sounded like a death-knell for the trannie.

I digress for a moment to emphasize: I am not a car-snob. I think defining yourself by what you drive is a little sick, and ostentation in any form offends me -- that's why I'm so revolted by the Accent's screaming red paint. I drove an '87 Chevy Nova (a rebranded Toyota Corolla) until it blew its head-gasket in '96, and replaced that with a Mazda Protégé, which I kept until the family grew to include two large and flatulent dogs, at which point the formal castration of the minivan became inevitable. Now, with the move to the country and intimidatingly rutted and potholed dirt roads, we both drive 4WD vehicles, both bought used. The Pathfinder isn't really much bigger than a Subaru Forester, but with better clearance. I use my Ranger pickup as much as a practical tool -- hauling garden tools, plywood, firewood, topsoil and mulch -- as a conveyance to work.

There are some things I love about rice-burners. They're great on gas (although this abused Accent isn't all that impressive) and the transverse-engine front-wheel drive is absolutely brilliant in snow. You can park them anywhere, and they're pretty zippy on the highway, as long as you're not transporting a piano on the roof or something.

But my unforeseen and nightmarishly extended experience with this filthy little loaner has brought out a sadistic aspect of my personality that frankly surprises me. Every time it bottoms out and grinds its chassis against our nineteenth-century goatpath of a driveway, I grin maniacally and push it harder. I seek out potholes to bash into. Washboard ruts make me cackle. When starting it in the morning, I gun the engine to 5000 revs before oil can make its way into the crankcase. I pop soda-cans in the cupholder, noting with satisfaction the sticky spray misting the instrument panel. On the highway, I keep at just the right speed (62mph, if you're curious) to maximize the off-alignment shuddering, smiling quietly to myself at the thought of the amount of melted rubber I'm leaving on the road.

I fervently hope today is my last day with this stupid little red car. As of last night, the repair shop had only one more thing to fix -- a faulty catalytic converter -- before the Pathfinder is released from durance vile. However, having observed these gooberheads, I'm not holding my breath. I may very well have another weekend with it.

When I got the loaner, the rep and I did the formal minuette around the car, noting all the scratches and dents in its mortifyingly loud exterior. I can guarantee there is no more damage to the paint-job than when I took possession, so I have no fear of reprisal from that quarter. But when I do give it back, I'd love to hand over the key while observing jauntily, "You might want to get the alignment checked: I noticed it shook a bit when I had it around a hundred-and-twenty for a couple hours in the mountains..."

If I am stuck with it for another weekend, I'd love to hear suggestions from my knowledgably evil readers: What else can I do to this miserable little piece of shit before handing it back to its incompetent, maintenance-eschewing, wrong-part-ordering, my-car-keeping-for-a-week-past-its-promised-date corporate owners? Just remember: The paint-job is sacrosanct. Everything else is fair game.

16 comments:

Ronzoni Rigatoni said...

The great state of PA once installed "turtlebacks" down the center of a 2-lane highway I drove for years. These gizmoes are raised reflectors which can be seen after a light snow of 2" or less. Try driving at speed for 20 or 30 miles keeping the driver's front and rear tires atop the turtlebacks. When I was a mere wisp of a lad driving somebody else's car, I thought it was great fun.

John B. said...

Here's something my late father-in-law did with a rental...take it out on some clear and deserted road, get it up to a decent rate of speed and slam it in reverse...
and no, he didn't depart hi mortal coil because of this late 60's adolescent behavior...

johnny phenothiazine said...

Check the air in the tires. Little FWD cars are especially sensitive to incorrect tire pressure, and for some reason all mechanics overinflate tires. The worst offenders in that regard are tire shops. The last two times I bought new tires as I drove the car down the road afterwards the new ones felt as stiff as railroad wheels, and when I checked my expensive new tires were 10-15 PSI overinflated. The last place even supplied me with a printout on which it was written that the factory recommended tire pressure was 26 PSI; when I got out my gauge I found they were pumped up to between 38 and 40 PSI.

Derryl Murphy said...

Throw it into Park instead of using the brakes. Fun from about 5-10mph. I used to do that with a City truck; a sort of your-tax-dollars-at-work thing.

D

blue girl said...

Blow the speakers, Jeddie. Blow 'em!

Crank up Barry Manilow or Lionel Ritchie and blow the suckers!

:)

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Dude, you can do so much more damage w/ a stick. Is it automatic? The best ways to fuck up an automatic have already been detailed above.

If it's standard you know what to do. What a lot of people don't realize too is that 10 mph in 4th gear is just as vile on th' differential as 30 mph in first gear is.

What kind of e-brake? There's that hip car-chase move where you yank th' e-brake and turn hard and you can execute a lovely 180 in some dark parking lot. that'll burn some serious everything.

Ha ha- pull one or hell, two of th' coil wires. It'll run like absolute, unmitigated ass. Switch 'em all around! change th' firing order! Woah! You'll never get them right again. Sweet.

Oh- and try diesel, of course.

Joel Hanes said...

At 40 mph or so,
apply the emergency brake
just enough that the engine
loads down a bit.
Keep driving. The smell will
tell you when to let
the brake off -- either that,
or the smoke visible in the
rear view mirror.

helmut said...

Golf courses in the dark.

Jeremy Cherfas said...

You are one ungrateful cocksuckin' sonofabitch, Jingo. In may part of the world, when you ask for a loaner, they look at you like you've just landed and you antennae are glowing sickly green.

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Ha ha. This was a great idea. Some of this crap I've done with my own car just because I'm sort of dumb.

I love th' golf course in th' dark. Hee hee. Might head off some Republican mating too.

XTCfan said...

Man, you are asking for some seriously bad Car-ma (oh ho ho ho) with this one! This little Korean POS has not done anything bad to you ... in fact, given how you've been driving it, you're lucky it hasn't decided to give up the ghost in the most inconvenient of circumstances. Remember, the incompetent bastards are only going to give the Little Red Hyundai to the next unfortunate soul they burn, and you'll have that on your conscience.

So, you've got to find a way to get even with the dealership ... I say you sneak in there one night and replace all the motor oil in the place with molasses. That'll cause some serious havoc.

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Yeh- or try this one-

call each of th' service advisors individually and tell 'em there's a dim behind the toilet in th' bathroom.

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Or a dime! A dime! That'd be better'n any old fuckin' dim.

roxtar said...

Did you ever play games in the car when you were a kid? Like "Out of State License Plates"? Or "What's That Foul Smell Coming From the Air Conditioner"? I'll take sardines and bleu cheese for $500, Alex!

Tom said...

Frankly, there's nothing that you can do to it that would be worse than it simply being the make and model of car that it is. It was damned with the mark of Cain from the moment that they superglued the stylized H onto the hood.

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