New car smell is overrated. Keep your old car running.
I saw that on an auto repair shop’s billboard, on my way home Friday. Seeing it rather tickled me, because it sums up my philosophy on cars rather well. Drive ‘em until they’re rust.
Well, as you may surmise from the above, I drive an old car. It’s got a few issues, as all old cars do, but it’s still not at the point where fixing it is more expensive than buying another one. One way to keep the price of fixing it down is, of course, to pay for parts, but not labour…to do the repairs (as many of them as possible) your own damn self. Which I do.
Anyway, recently I was driving the boys from here to there and as I was crossing the train tracks from the back of the car I hear:
And the rest of the trip (thankfully only a couple of miles);
Clunk, clonk, bang, rattle, rattle clackity clack.
Okay, something’s not right. Look under the back wheels. Oh, my, the shock mounting plate has blown apart. Those terrible noises were the shock rattling around in the wheel well.
Sigh, time for new shocks and mounting plates. It’s not the first time I’ve done them, and I don’t imagine it will be the last, but as a driveway mechanic, with a solid 3 days of rain in the forecast, it’s not something I’m looking forward to.
Now, you can go to YouTube and look up how to do it, and they’ll tell you it’s a 5 minute job. Or, for a more realistic take, you could go read this story (you really should, I laughed out loud), which is a little closer to my tale of woe.
I had metric nuts on one side, imperial on the other. I had mounting nuts that were so jammed that they stripped in the socket (and I used the correct socket, I swear) so I had to use a stripped nut remover and a LOT of WD40. I’m doing this in my driveway, not up on a hoist, so getting to the bottom bolt requires a contortion worthy of Circ Du Soleil.
Unless you want to lay down on the ground and slide under the back bumper. Which would be fine, I suppose, if I weren’t claustrophobic. I literally cannot make myself do it, I’ve tried, but…nope.
And did I mention that I did this after spending 4 hours with kids 1 and 2 at the waterpark? On a day when it was 18 ° (that’s 64 ° for you ‘Mericans) and intermittently raining? And that my impact wrench is electric, not air drive, so I don’t know if I’m going to have to quit mid job if the skies open up?
The long and short of it is, like my changing the tires story, or my dancing with kid 3 on my shoulders story, or my opening the cottage story, or any others, I got the job done. I was a little sore. Also very greasy, but I finished up, put my tools away, washed my hands, did my little 10 minute back maintenance routine and came straight to the computer to tell the tale.
I feel good; the car is fixed and I saved a few bucks (maybe $200). The physical price of these tasks used to be steep. Before I embarked on my journey to “Overcome Pain, Regain Mobility, and Learn to Stand Up Right” all the bending, twisting, and lifting involved in this little (1 hour) job would have wrecked me for a couple of days. Advil, Robaxacet, bed rest. Knotted back muscles, a kink in the neck and potentially a stress headache or even a migraine.
In other words, the price wouldn’t have been worth it, and I’d have taken it to a mechanic.
Funny thing, learning the skills of better posture, primarily to be a good example to my kids, now saves me time, money and aggravation on car repairs. No strike that last, those shocks were plenty aggravating. So it saves me time and money. No, strike that first, I can leave the car at the mechanic while I go to work.
Okay, it saves me money. Which is good, because I’m cheap.
But that’s not all it does. Life isn’t about sitting, standing or moving in perfect alignment. It’s non-linear and messy, so to enjoy life to the fullest you’ve got to prepare your body for tasks that take it out of static or simple linear motion. Gardening, car repairs etc. are tests which show me I’ve done that, and now I can enjoy the sense of accomplishment (and frugal satisfaction) from a little car repair job, without the pain and frustration of back troubles.
Posture correction, which I started out in order to be a good example to my boys, has become a key component in me living a healthy life.