The Seventy Year Old Car

Clackity, clackity, clackity. “What is that noise?” I wondered. No, the left-turn signal was not on this time. I could not tell where the sound was coming from. When the car stopped, the noise stopped too. “It will probably go away,” I thought. “It’s nothing.”

But like cavities in your teeth, funny car noises do not heal themselves. I am mechanically impaired, but I did have a car once that had clattering valves. Could it be valve clatter?

I asked my daughter to listen to it. “I don’t hear anything,” she said. That proves it. It’s nothing.

Later I found some green oily-looking stuff on the floor of the garage. “It looks fresh, but it is probably old. The car is running and none of the gages show anything. It is okay,” I told myself. “There is nothing seriously wrong.”

Okay, so my car is 70 years old in car years. Supposedly, if you divide the mileage by the year, you can find out how old a car is in human years. But I take really good care of it. I give it only premium gas, I change its oil every time I am supposed to. I have it serviced at a dealership. So, why is it leaking oil and making a noise? It has only been driven by a little old lady at 35 mph.

“The car is making that noise again. I heard it today,” my daughter informed me. We could not both be imagining the same noise, could we? Face it, the car is a senior citizen.

I have things to do and places to go. I don’t have time for the car to have a senior moment. But I don’t have time to get stranded on the road either, or have the noise get worse and tear up the entire motor.

Suddenly, fixing the car became an emergency.

I called Cindy at the auto shop and made an appointment. “It is making a clackity sound,” I told Cindy. “It only does it when the car is moving.” I didn’t tell her what I thought it was. No use suggesting something expensive. They have diagnostic equipment and expert mechanics.

Cindy called me later. “It is the serpentine belt,” she said. I didn’t know what that was, but I was happy when she told me they could replace it. “We are not sure about the leak,” she said. “I want the transmission guy to look at it and he is out of town this week. Can you bring it back?”

Transmission? My heart stopped as I watched hundred-dollar bills sprout wings and fly out of my purse. “Okay, I will bring it back.” I was sure it was going to have a spasm and drop the entire transmission on the Interstate somewhere on the way home.

Nothing is worse than having a car that is over the hill and not dependable. Finally, the next week came and I took it back, knowing the car was senile and the diagnosis could be chronic.

I called Cindy later to check on it. “Oh, Joe is working on another job,” she said. “I’ll have to tell him to check it.” In a while she called back. “It is the transmission oil pan.” She said. I didn’t know what that was either, but it sounded better than a fried transmission. “We will have to service the transmission, but he should have it ready today before we close.”

What a relief. It will not be pushing up daisies for a while yet. Seventy is the new 50. Maybe I will fill up the gas tank and take it to the car wash, just to let it know I am not ready to put it out to pasture.

I only wish cars had Medicar.

Copyright 2014 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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