Thursday, November 17, 2016

Musings on Mobility

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" 
-adage dating back to WWII, originating from the New England area

Maybe it's my upbringing in an Army family. Maybe it's my love of Doctor Who with his raggedy, outdated, always-breaking-down ship-in-a-box. Maybe it's that I don't have that great of a day job, and can't afford better.

I have a 25 year old Toyota Corolla that vexes me. Say hello, Corolla.
Hello, Corolla.
I realize that may seem contrarian to complain about a thing that I like, but that's me. A car is a necessary thing, and while I am perturbed to no end with my own, it's a bit vital considering that I don't live in a coastal city with a bustling mass-transit system and (outside of some time spent in Boston) I never have. But I have lived in flyover country for most of my life, and in the majority of that flyover country things are pretty spaced out and mass transit just isn't a thing that exists.

Having this car is both a blessing and a curse. After I was divorced I had no car and no home, and I was basically homeless while I couch-surfed for a few months. I managed to cling onto my job, and by the new year I had an apartment and, a week later, this car because a friend from work was selling it for $600 to pay the insurance premium on his new car.

I'm not the most responsible car owner, so I can't say that it's in exactly the same condition as when I received it, but it's still running. I got it at about 130,000 miles, and it's now just over 160,000. In Toyota years, that's apparently not even middle-aged, but it spent the first decades of its life in a swamp, which took its toll.

The laundry list of things wrong with my car includes, but is not limited to:
  • The right turn signal only works in the front. And that's after changing the bulb. 
  • The shock absorbers are completely gone. I'm not just talking potholes; if I run over a manhole cover or even a seam in the concrete, I feel it. It's basically a horse-drawn cart at this point. 
  • There's a crack in the windshield that grew quite a bit, but thankfully hasn't grown in a year or two now. 
  • One of the tires needs replacing. Badly. 
  • Opening the hood requires either a counterweight or a second person, with one lifting while the other hits the hood release inside the car. 
  • The windshield wiper fluid reservoir snapped and fell on the fan belt at one point, which sawed a giant hole in it, requiring removal of the reservoir and replacement of the belt. 
  • The passenger side arm rest has fallen off. 
  • The rolly crank thing (no idea what it's called) has fallen off the window crank on the driver's side. 
  • There was a popping noise when turning to the right. I had this diagnosed at a mechanic, and they said the wheel bearings and front axles had more rust on them than they'd ever seen. I ended up paying more to replace these parts than the car cost. 
  • After this repair work, the car pulls to the right when accelerating. 
  • If you can call that accelerating. 
  • When I got the car, the AC only worked on settings 2 and 4. Settings 2 and 4 have since stopped working. 
  • There is no radio. It was stolen when I was living in Texas, and I can't figure out how to hook up the factory radio, and even if I could 3 of the 4 speakers no longer function. 
  • Due to fading and peeling, the car is roughly 5 different shades of red. 
  • There are various dents, dings, and bent panels. Only one of which I contributed to, when a Ford F350 ran over the car when backing out of a parking space. 
Smile for the camera!
Despite all this, my car refuses to roll over and die completely, which is a source of frustration for me. Affording a new car would be difficult, but is completely unjustified when this one still technically works. Were I either more financially well off, or more mechanically inclined, this wouldn't be an issue as I'd either just buy a new car or fix what's wrong with this one myself. I mean, I've got a fan right now that's making weird noises in my computer, and I know all I have to do is go to Best Buy, spend seven dollars, rip the old one out, plug in the new one, and that problem's fixed.

But this. This frustrates me.

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