Friday, September 10, 2010

Beryl's First Breakdown

My first car was a 1992 Suzuki Swift. I called her Beryl.

Beryl was awesome, but there were some hidden issues - she had some rust in the radiator which hadn’t been picked up on. Until she started behaving very strangely.

Unlike some cars, who relish the chance to have their engine turned off and will stall at the drop of a hat, and even unlike most cars, who will happily nap while you’re not driving them and the key isn't in the ignition, Beryl utterly refused to be turned off.

That little car just clung to life.  I’d take the key out and it’d spend the next several minutes shuddering and spluttering as if it were in the throes of death. It looked so sad and pathetic, I could almost hear it: Please mummy, please don’t let me die...

It was bizarre and a little scary. Like it was possessed or something. The Ghost of Engines Past? Who knows. Either way, whatever was inside my car and causing this bizarre behaviour, it was not a benign spirit.

Scary monster car. With teeth.

I asked my father about it (he’s an engineer), and his response was simply that I’d filled the car with the wrong type of fuel. I tried to argue (I fill up at the same pump from the same petrol station every single time) but he was adamant: I had filled it up with the wrong kind of fuel. Ok, you’re the engineer and I’m forgetful. You know best.

Then came the day (about a month later) when I brought Beryl home, took the key out, and she kept going. Just wouldn’t stop shaking. I showed dad. He said “Oh.”

In short, the car had been overheating and had blown a gasket. Miracle of miracles: The engine itself hadn’t been damaged in the slightest and, after a month of home repairs, she was fixed and running like a little dream. Of course, it was entirely my fault for not keeping an eye on the temperature gauge. Nothing at all to do with him not taking me seriously...

But I can happily say that, from that day on, my concerns about my car were taken seriously. The next time I pointed out something odd about the engine, dad actually had a drive and agreed that I was right about it needing to be adjusted.

I may not be a mechanic and may not know exactly what is happening, but I do know my own car.

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