Sunday, October 7, 2012

Car trouble

Saturday was the much anticipated day of the neighborhood-wide garage sale. We dressed the kids and hustled everyone out the door and into the van, shoved a dollar in each kid's pocket, and drove sloooowly up the street in search of treasures.

We cruised by a couple of sales on our street, deciding to pass when we saw stacks of pink baby clothes or other items we will never have any use for, then headed for the part of the neighborhood where the houses and cars are bigger and fancier. There we hit the jackpot! I huge bat bag filled with kid-sized bats, baseballs, softballs, gloves, and a helmet for $10, score!! Ryan paid for that sucker then spirited it back to the car like a thief in the night before anyone else could fight him for it.

I found a tshirt I liked and Charlie bought a Christmas cookie tin and we headed back to the car to go to the next sale. We had just pulled away from the curb when Ryan said "Do you smell that? It smells like burning oil."

I waved him off. There were tons of less-than-new cars cruising around the neighborhood. I was sure it was one of them. We pulled up in front of a driveway packed with toys, including a Spiderman bike helmet. I was so excited for Wes, who was very disappointed he hadn't found anything at the last sale, and was about to get out when Ryan said "Hang on a sec," very solemnly, and got down on his knees next to the car.

Just as I was starting to get annoyed by the delay, Ryan popped up off the ground and into the passenger seat. Eyes wide he said "DRIVE HOME. DRIVE HOME RIGHT NOW. If the oil light or any other light comes on, SHUT IT DOWN."

I complied before asking, "So, what's wrong with the car?"

The kids were wailing in the back about wanting to go to the yardsale. Why did we not get out? I saw a cool car at that one? Are we coming back?

I had no answers for them and was a little scared to ask Ryan, whose entire body was a coiled spring, his eyes laser focused on the panel of indicator lights. My dad is an awesome mechanic, he can fix anything in a car, he is also one of the kindest, gentlest people you will ever know, but if there is one thing I learned growing up, it is that you do not interrupt Papa when something serious is wrong with the car. This seemed like a good course of action at the time.

"It's leaking oil." he finally responded, not taking his eyes off the dashboard.

"PSSSHT!" I thought. "Cars leak oil! It's what they do! It's why my dad kept a piece of old carpet under our cars when I was a kid! How bad could it possibly be?" But you don't express those thoughts. I kept quiet and drove very gingerly the mile back to our house.

When we got home I saw how bad it could possibly be. Ryan slid a piece of cardboard car-diaper under the van to catch the DRIPS because YES, OIL WAS ACTUALLY DRIPPING OUT OF THE CAR. I racked my brain but could not remember hitting anything the day before, or driving over anything unusual. He assured me it wasn't my fault. Probably.

When he pulled the dipstick out of the engine, wiped it off, then pulled it out again to check the level, it took both of us staring at it to realize that the reason we couldn't read the oil level is because THERE WAS NO OIL IN THE CAR. Not one drop. Except the drips that were still coming from underneath the car.

I herded the children inside and let Ryan have a moment to use whatever language he felt most appropriate.

A few minutes later I went out and asked gently if maybe I needed to see about renting a car for a few days, since it seems mine (only one of ours that can hold all the kids) seemed to be, uh, broken? Like, really broken? And the rental place closes in two hours, soooo... OK, I'll just give them a call.

Ten minutes later I was in the car on the way to pick up "A big car, an SUV, a van, whatever you have that'll hold three kids would be great!" and Ryan was spending the first of five hours that day with his head up the business end of a Toyota Sienna.

I came back to drop off his Sonic lunch and tell his legs I was taking the kids to a birthday party.


We came back from the birthday party to find Ryan watching YouTube videos about replacing the "rear main seal." It looked complicated. Ryan's hand reached for his phone, then put it back, then reached for his phone, then put it back.

I put on a video for the kids and puttered around the kitchen. Ryan came back in from the garage with oil all over his hair and went upstairs to take a shower. The kids' video ended and I sent them out back to play. James woke up from his nap. Ryan came back in from the garage and started calling shops. He called my dad who said "It does sound like the 'rear main seal'. I wouldn't *touch* that!"

Then this happened. Wes missed it because he fell asleep on the bathroom floor sometime during the time I was pacing around in the kitchen


It made James very, very nervous.


I made the kids some dinner. Ryan left in the rental car to go get the verdict and also some Chipotle for us for dinner which was very nice of him because after he found out the car would be $1200 to fix he said he wanted a nice bowl of Ramen noodles for dinner. And maybe some water, but not too much.

We ate tacos and watched Law and Order and made jokes about how happy the neighbors probably were when they saw the shiny new Toyota Camry sitting in the driveway and the Neon nowhere to be found. Ha ha, boy would they be surprised when the Neon came back from the rental car place in all its paintless glory! We found out the repair would *only* be $700, which was a relief, though Ryan argued that if he could've found the lesser problem he could probably have fixed it himself for much cheaper but that he hadn't found the problem because he didn't have a good flashlight because the kids took all the batteries out of all the flashlights in the house. THERE GOES YOUR COLLEGE FUNDS, I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY.

Thank goodness the van will be ready tomorrow, but in the mean time I am driving around in a mosh pit. You have no idea how quickly they go from this:


To this:


These kids should not be strapped in within scratching distance. This experience has done wonders for my guilt about having such a large car when technically everyone would fit in a sedan.


Kim said...

Sorry about the car repairs!!

Love the pictures of the kids in the sedan! We three were always so badly behaved when we drove in my dad's car (sedan) compared to my mom's car (minivan, where we were separated). However, I do have fond memories of fighting with my siblings in the sedan! It was much more entertaining than riding behaving well in the van. :)

Sarah said...

Totally agree with Kim-- It was lovely to be within scratching distance sometimes (and we were not in carseats very long back in the day, so we could kick the heck out of each other, too).

Sorry to hear about the van--I can think of a bajillion more fun ways to spend $700.

Jessica said...

Even though it makes no sense, I'd probably be more annoyed about missing the garage sales than the car bill. Forget $700, I didn't get to save 20 bucks on random junk!