I have a very old car. It is 11 years old at this point and though it still runs and has air conditioning, it is getting more obvious every day just how old my car really is.
I love it though…there are so many memories involved with my car! The time my friends and I took an impromptu road trip to San Antonio for my birthday, all the awkward sex in the back seat when both my boyfriend and I lived at home with our parents so we were forced to turn my tiny mazda into a traveling hotel room, etc. The fact that my car is full of honey-coated memories is what prevents me from pulling over on the side of the road and kicking when it starts to overheat in the rush hour traffic on my way home from work. I just roll down the windows and turn on the heater and tell myself, “Yeah, this sucks, but remember the time that the ex was standing in front of the car smoking and you got tired of waiting for him so you honked and scared him so bad he spilled a 64 oz ultra-mega-monster big gulp all over himself?” And then I smile and think to myself that it’s hot but that is a small price to pay for scaring the bejeezus out of that asshole I used to date.
My car has now, however, pushed itself right into the category of things that make me feel stabby. The computer monitor that flickers fushia if I bump the cord, high heeled shoes, and now my car.
My radio has a habit of occasionally sticking. Sometimes when I turn on the car the buttons on the radio don’t work and I am stuck listening to whatever radio station/tape I was listening to when I turned the car off last time. This usually only lasts for a few days and then I have full control over the radio and the tape deck (yeah, I know I have a tape deck. I already told you the car is old.) Not this time.
For the past 3 weeks I have heard nothing but Elton John’s Greatest Hits. Elton John is fabulous though, so how can that be bad, right? Anytime I touch a button to see if the radio is working it sends the system into a doppler effect. If I want to see if the radio is working yet I have to take this chance, and as it hasn’t worked yet I am pretty regularly exposed to:
Front Left Speaker: It’s like tryin’ to
Front Right Speaker: Get gold from a
Back Right Speaker: Silver mi-
Back Left Speaker: -ne, like tryin to g-
Front Left Speaker: et whiskey from
Front Right Speaker: a bottle of wiiiine!
Every. Single. Day. For the past three weeks. I am going insane. I would rather have a haunted Jack LaLane Power Juicer than listen to this much longer. I am going to go to my parent’s house and see if my dad can fix it or at least disconnect it so I don’t have to listen to anything at all. I will bring a discman with me or something.
Not exactly a rant but I had to complain to someone about it, and where better to do that than the SDMB?
Speaking of crazed car entertainment systems, when I bought the car I am driving now three years ago (its a ten year old car) it came with one of those really old 10-disc cd changers where the discs are actually in the trunk. It was nice to have for a while, but eventually it became one of the deciding factors in why I bought an iPod.
I didn’t do a lot of driving at the time so I could toss 10 discs into the changer and resonably expect to not have to open my trunk for a month at least, it was nice. Then the thing started acting strange. They never completely stopped working, but every day I would have to relearn what each button did because every day something would change. It started by the ‘skip track back’ button started cycling through the shuffle options, at the same time the ‘skip disc back’ button became ‘pause’. At this point the only way for me to go back a track was to skip through 10 discs and then forward to the song I wanted. Then the actual pause button started acting as the ‘skip disc forward’ button and the ‘stop’ became another ‘pause’ button. Now I couldn’t turn the thing off except by opening my truck and ejecting the disc cartridge. After almost a year of dealing with a schizophranic cd player I just bought an iPod and the thing hasn’t been turned on since.
You should be able to purchase a new radio or even a radio for the same car for a different year. My dad did that for my old Corolla* and it never worked for the back speakers, but who cares - I only sat in the front seat. (Quiet your dirty minds!) And it worked wonders.
*Yes, I have the same feelings about that lovely old Corolla as you do for your car. It gave me freedom at a time I was feeling desperately trapped. It let me live. It is the only car to have ever earned a name from me and my affection. It was so cute, too, and a color that always stood out - topaz. A sort of goldish shade. I called it Baby and yes, I did love it.
My first car (a first-generation Hyundai Excel) ended his life with a boom box duct-taped to the dashboard, because the radio was so fubared. (It did, however, give me the enviable ability to make mix tapes while driving.) I wish you luck.
I can sympathize. My first car, an old Mazda 323, lost its powers of radio reception over a period of time - a slow death. One day, the CD input died - my Discman could no longer be hooked up to the speakers. (The tape deck died before the car even got to me). Soon after, I began losing FM stations rapidly, starting with the higher numbers and right down to 87.5 (the lowest it would go). I was left with only AM stations, and eventually, only Canadian public radio, the CBC. Not even the good FM classical CBC. The AM, talk radio, call-in CBC. I knew it was time to do something about it when I started laughing at CBC jokes.
Nope…trying to turn him off is what causes the doppler effect. I am hoping that my dad will be able to fix it. If not I may look into buying a new radio for the car, I was just hoping not to have to put much more money into it before I end up selling it next year. The radio is one of the most important parts of the car though so I will consider getting a new one.
My first car was a Camry, edging in on 14 years old by the time I got it. Aside from the fact that the alternator died, I had to replace three tires, and, by the end, the radiator developed enough of a leak that it was only good for stretches of about 10 miles before you had to stop, let it cool, and then put more water in later (this was a few weeks before I was going off to college. No point in fixing it), the tape player was in poor condition.
One of the belts had lost enough elasticity that it would slip, and the tape would play slower. This was dependent on the humidity, so sometimes you’d be driving along and the tape would just gradually slow down. You wouldn’t always notice it, at first, but eventually you’d realize that you were singing an octive lower, and that this song seemed to drag on.
And then you’d drive out near the ocean, and a few minutes later, it’d be right back up to full speed.
The car I drive is really really old, next year it’ll be 40! I drive it every day, and every year I pick 1 major thing to fix. Last year it was the rearend, upgraded from a puny 4 bolt to and 8" 5 bolt with bigger brakes and new driveline as an added bonus. It cost a little over $500 and I did 99% of the work myself. This year was to fix the over heating problem and correct the problems with the alterantor brackets. So a new radiator, water pump, harmonic balancer and pulleys. Another $500 and again I did it all. It’s looking like next years project will be the suspension I need to upgrade the spindles, brakes, springs (coils and leaf) and replace ball joints and bushings and maybe add a sway bar front and rear. $1000 at least.
Oh, and the car hasn’t had a working radio since I got it.
The first car I bought for myself (excluding “The Butt”, a 1971 Torino which barely ran, and for which I paid $550) was a 1986 Toyota Celica.
Man, I loved that car. I moved a lot of times during that age of my life, so the Celica was more of a constant in my life than anything else. I spent nights in it- it was surprisingly comfortable. Even when it was eight years old, it got 34 miles to the gallon and could go 120mph. I took really good care of it, so much so that people thought it was brand new.
It was getting on in years, and I’d just taken a job that was close enough to my house that I could easily walk, so I sold it.
A year later, I saw it parked at a local sandwich shop. It had been rode hard and put up wet- it was in horrible shape. Paint peeling, window tint peeling, and rust starting to show through. I went in and talked to the owner- she’d bought it from the couple I’d sold it to. I was so sad, seeing the shape it was in. If I’d had the money, I would’ve bought it from her right then and there.
Jeez, I’m tearing up a little bit just thinking about it. I loved that car.