I bought a truck in 2010. It was the first new car I had purchased since 1984. Unlike how I treated that car two decades earlier, I have been a diligent owner — oil changes, checkups, all those things that are recommended by the manufacturer.
For almost 100,000 miles this truck has been a team player, serving as daily transportation and the vehicle in which we take our road trips.
Returning from work last week, I heard an odd noise in the engine. Initially it sounded like the air conditioning fan. I drove it the next morning to my neighborhood mechanic, and rented a big white car.
“Mr. Ben,” the service manager told me, “We have to open it up, but see here? There’s a hole in your valve cover. Something has torn loose. Maybe the timing chain.”
“I am still crunching numbers. I talked to the dealer and they told me this happens with these vehicles at about 100,000 miles. There is a chain in the front and one in the back. If the back one is shot, we have to remove the engine. The dealer suggested you just buy a used engine with less mileage.”
“And wait until it gets up to 100,000 to go through this again? Fix it.”
I thought it would take a day or two, so I enjoyed the big rent-a-car. I drove by the shop the first day, parked outside. Likewise second.
“When are you fixing it? I am paying a fortune for this rental.”
“Rent one of mine!” the service manager said, and he offered me a tiny little electric car with tiny wheels.
“Can it go on the highway?”
So I handed over the big white boat and crammed my body into this itty-bitty car, not much bigger than the desk at which I sit writing this. And because it’s electric, it’s silent!
Well, it sure was fun. Scary, but fun. It just happened to be a very windy day and I feared I would be picked up like Dorothy’s farmhouse. The car easily took on I-95 at 70 mph and did not blow off the highway.
My truck sits in the bay, hood removed. Large portions of her insides ripped out and strewn about the mechanic’s work surfaces.
“We’re waiting for a tool, Mr. Ben,” the service manager explains, while the one mechanic works on someone else’s car.
Take your time, I say, as I silently pull away.
If my truck is reading this, don’t worry, I still love you.