Sometimes cars REALLY suck

December 19, 2010

One time you notice a big difference between cars and bikes, is when they fail.

Once upon a time, I was riding my bike home, with a big load of groceries, and the rear hub locked up solid (drive — it would coast), 3 miles from home. No way to repair it on the road. What to do? Push the bike uphill, groceries and all, and coast home. It was faster than walking. I bought a replacement wheel on Craigslist for $300, installed it in the comfort of my own home, and away we go.

Today, my car failed, 3 miles from home. I’d put about a $10 bet on it being the fuel pump in some way (now, after trying to restart it a couple hours later). What to do? Can’t push it home, that would be insane. So I leave it parked, get home, come back later (on my bike, how about that?) when I have time to kill, try to start it again, just in case, and call AAA (to whom we pay $100-some per year for occasions just like this). They’re very polite, computerized mapping and searching and scheduling are all wonderful things, but I’ll sit here for 30 minutes or so, waiting for a tow truck, to deliver it to our favorite gas station, where they might be able to work on it tomorrow, and I’ll be glad if it comes to less than $300.

Update: Would have been $800, except that when the old engine blew its head gasket long ago, the repair guys removed its distributor, because it was only a few months old then, wrapped it in a rag and gave it to me, saying “you never know”. Turns out, this time it was the distributor, and I saved $500 on their hunch. Yay repair guys.

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