If it has tyres…

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I don’t have the best luck when it comes to cars. In fact, I don’t have any luck when it comes to cars. My first car I ever bought was a red Opel Kadett GSI. During my first driving lesson with an instructor I was devastated when black smoke began pouring out from under the bonnet. Another instructor in the area at the same time had a look and told me I could throw the car away, the engine had seized. Fortunately he was wrong. Some time later, during a deal gone wrong with a friend’s boyfriend who had bought the car from me, I had to place an ad to trace the vehicle, finding it immediately resold without my consent or having received payment. Worn and battered, I got stopped by a traffic officer, who after adding up the fines he had begun writing out, told me that I couldn’t drive a car like this and he offered to send someone to my house to buy the car. He didn’t give me the fines, thankfully. Deciding to keep it after all, I joked that it wouldn’t last until I had finished paying for it. It didn’t. A representative working with us who was using my car during the day, crashed it. Badly. It was fixed up enough to trade in on my next car.

Hello Ford Laser Tracer – my green mamba as some people referred to it. This car had a story to tell. On more than one occasion I accidentally locked my keys (and Damian!) in the car. The first time, panicking, a friend ran to call a petrol attendant who swiftly unlocked the door using the tape found around printer paper boxes and chewing gum. A trick that would come in handy when instructing my brother-in-law when he came to help me on incident two of locking my keys (and Damian!) in the car. Unfortunately, this trick wasn’t my little secret and one evening while on a stationary bike at the gym, my friends came running in to tell me that someone was driving off in my car. Clearly, they also knew the trick of getting into my car without keys. Pity for them, I have a foolproof antitheft method which I only (smugly) realised at that point… my car is always running on empty. The car was found abandoned two days later.

A few incidents later and after one evening out, my friend and I were just leaving a dance club and were pulled over by the police, obviously checking for clubbers driving under the influence (which I was not). The conversation went like this:
Officer 1: “Do you know your front headlight is smashed and not working?”
Me: “Yes I do, I had an accident and am waiting for the insurance to sort it out.”
Officer 1: “Can I see your driver’s licence?” (While officer 2 is shining his light on my licence disk on the windscreen).
Me: (Cringing and opening my door to climb out) “Sure.”
Officer 1: (following me) “What are you doing?”
Me: “Getting my driver’s licence”
Officer 1: “In your boot?”
Me: (Handing him my application for a new driver’s licence) “My handbag was stolen off my car seat and so here is proof I am applying for a new one.”
Officer 2: “Your licence disk has expired, your car is unlicensed.”
Me: (Handing the officer the applciations for my new licence) “The car dealership that traded in my old car for this one didn’t change ownership on the old car and because of the new owner’s fines I haven’t been able to renew my licence. Here is all the proof.”
[By this time we had all started giggling a bit and were all at my boot]
Officer 1: “And where is your back number plate?”
Me: “My car was stolen and they threw it away.”
[At this point we were all hysterical]
Officer 1: “You need to please just get in your car and go.”
Officer 2: (Shining his light into the back seat) “And that baby seat?”
Me: The new cover is on it’s way in the mail – would you like to see that receipt?
[Laughter… more laughter… and then some more]

About a month later, in the pouring rain after work I asked my friend to drive me to where I had parked my car. Alas, it was gone. The green mamba had been stolen for the second time. This time it was never recovered.

Hello brand new incident free black Opel Corsa Club. I loved this car, and I honestly didn’t have any stories to tell until I had to give it up after losing my job.

Welcome the family hand me down maroon Mazda Soho. I did the whole coastline from the Natal Midlands to Cape Town in this charismatic car that would slow down to a crawl on a freeway and then suddenly regain power and shoot off again. Before this though, I had the delightful experience of having to drive it without a clutch. For seven days. There was apparently a problem with leaking something or other (I heard brake fluid mentioned, but saying that out loud confirms the craziness of this episode, so I won’t). On day one I was so proud of myself – ‘Look at me! I can drive a car without a clutch.’ It was hair-raising, but do-able because I had no other choice. By day 7 I just wanted to cry. And then we were rescued and the car was fixed. With no backseat and a passenger door that wouldn’t open it really was a car to remember. Sadly, she saw her end on the N7 one evening when the engine seized.

Now I am still enjoying my wonderful grey Renault Scenic. I love this car. But let’s discuss how our relationship began. I got a really good deal. Five years old with 90000km on the clock, I got this car for about R20,000 less than they were being sold elsewhere. Papers and finance sorted, I took ownership on my birthday in 2011. That joy was shortlived. The computerised dash, which displays petrol, speed, etc. flickered a few times and went dark. I couldn’t see how much fuel I had in the car or how fast I was driving. Devastated at what it was about to cost me, I contacted the dealership. Fortunately that year model had been recalled for that exact problem, and a new computerised dash was installed at no cost. Relief!

Now in between all of the above are my regular flat tyres and petrol shortages. Flat tyres are a regular occurence – I have been asked if I ride off-road. I don’t. I have woken up to a puncture two days in a row, on different tyres. I have learned to change a tyre without hesitating (see my previous post – Anything boys can do) Petrol used to be an issue of lack of funds, but my latest episode was not such. I just forgot to stop. As simple and as scatter-brained as that. I ran out of fuel not even 5km from home on the R27. It was already dark and cold so I couldn’t walk anywhere with Damian so phoned a friend. He arrived quickly with a bottle of petrol. But we discovered that Renault have a petrol tank that only allows for the nozzle of a petrol pump to keep it open to put petrol in. We tried holding it open with a pen but that or our hands would only get in the way. Suddenly I had a MacGuyver moment… I got out my diary and tore out a wad of pages, rolled it into a funnel and voila! Petrol in my tank!

I’m not too sure what I need to learn from all of this yet, but I definitely felt that it was God 1: Deirdre 0 in this little lesson. I got just close enough to home to be safe, but just far enough to teach me to be more conscientious about keeping my tank full.

10 thoughts on “If it has tyres…

  1. In my life more of the same but added to this thrill of ever failing cars is pushing them all over the place. Getting other people to push. Getting other people to come and check your car – driving from far away, only to discover there is no petrol in car etc etc. I sympathise!

    1. Oh yes… I forgot the PUSHING! The red Opel needed to be parked on a downhill at one point due to a faulty battery and the possibility I couldn’t find anyone to help me push start! Oh the joys! I could probably drive anything now!

  2. Oh my gosh, you are so funny! I love the dialogue with the police when they stopped you. I am of half English origin (over 300 years ago, ha ha) so I am able to figure out what a boot and a windscreen are.

    You might enjoy my Americanized sense of humor at 1950 Suburban Adventures, with stories such as ‘Squishy Foot and Monkeys’.

  3. You have about as much luck as I do. I haven’t written about my bad luck. I write more about my strolls through my neighborhood, and more recently, my family, which I think I’ll keep writing about if it goes over well.

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