I Need to Learn About My Car

Reading Time: 2 minutes
under the hood
Image: Chris Yarzab via Flickr

I need to learn more about my car. I don’t know why this never occurred to me before this year. Other things that I interact with on a daily basis–my phone, my computer, kitchen equipment–I can fix in a pinch. I feel comfortable taking out the tool box and disassembling the vacuum or the dishwasher. I’m pretty confident that if I can’t fix it, I can (at the very least) put it back together.

I don’t feel that way about my car.

Maybe because it’s this enormous machine that has the potential to kill me if I don’t utilize it carefully or because there are so many damn parts under the hood, but I’ve never taken the time to get to know my car. I call AAA when it breaks down–even if it’s a simple fix–and take it to the dealership or Jiffylube for upkeep.

I don’t know what happened to the 16-year-old version of me that was dying to pop the hood and figure it all out. All I know is that her interest not only fizzled but turned to fear.

A few months ago, I left my lights on and the battery died. Not my finest hour because the car stalled at the front of the carpool line. A teacher ran over with a hand-held battery and another joined in to help jump start the car. I was more than a little bit jealous that she knew what she was doing and moved with confidence. She beckoned my son over and told him to watch because he may need to do this for me one day.

Um. No. I need to watch because I may need to do this again one day. And my daughter needs to watch because she may need to do this for herself one day. And my son, yes, also needs to watch because he may do a bonehead thing, like leave his lights on while he’s sitting in line, and then he will need to do this for himself one day.

Talking about this with friends, I was amazed how many people were in the exact same rickety knowledge boat: male and female.

My twins will be 16 in a few years. This needs to happen for all three of us. It’s as simple as getting out a library book, popping the hood, and figuring it out. Or setting up an appointment at the local garage and asking the people who work there to give me a mini-lesson to get me up to speed. Cars are commonplace; this information is all around.

I just want to know the basics. I can leave the complex work to the experts.

I found my goal for 2016.

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