Friday, September 24, 2010

The Light is On, But Nobody's Home

About a month ago, I finally decided that enough was enough.  My car was in the shop -- again -- because it was leaking some sort of fluid from the undercarriage.  Maybe it was oil, maybe it was transmission fluid, hell, for all I know about cars it may have been a pint and a half of Newman's Own Low-Calorie Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing that was pooling in my garage.  Anyway, after making a fourth attempt at repairing the leak, my mechanic Roger called me with the bad news.

"Hi Chris.  This is Roger from Lucky Lugnut's Auto Repair.  I have a bit of bad news for you."

"Great.  What's up?"

"Well, I found the leak.  It's being caused by a pressure build-up in the transmission that forces the fluid out through the fill pipe.  I'm going to have to refer you to a specialist."

Suddenly I was imagining a surgical team led by Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd working feverishly to repair the damaged transmission fluid arteries or whatever.

"A specialist?" I asked Roger.  "What's that gonna cost me?"

"Hard to say.  Best case about $750.  But if the transmission needs to be replaced, it could run a couple grand."

That's when I came up with Plan B.

I took the piece of crap (due to potential litigation I'm not at liberty to tell you what kind of car this was, but  I'll give you a hint . . . it rhymes with "bored florist") to our local Carmax and traded it in for a lovely 2008 Chrysler Sebring.

The Chrysler is awesome.  Since it's a newer model, there are none of the problems that I had with the Bored Florist.  No leaks, no weird rattling noise from the back end.  I was enjoying complete automotive peace of mind.

For about a month.

A few nights ago, Theresa and I were on our way to the movies when I heard a "ding" and noticed that one of the dashboard lights had come on.  It looked like this:

I had no clue what this light meant.  The "low fuel" light looks like a gas pump, the "check engine" light looks like an engine, but this?  It looks like a harp.  Or a horseshoe.  At first I didn't get all worked up about it because the car had been running fine.  But when I took a second look at the warning light, I noticed the exclamation point right there in the center.  An exclamation point!  Certainly, the Chrysler Motor Company wouldn't use such a dramatic symbol unless something was terribly, horribly, about-to-cause-the-vehicle-to-burst-into-flames wrong.  We would have to get this taken care of at once!

Or maybe it could wait until after the movie.  We left the theater at about 9:30 and I started the car.

"Hey!  The light's not on anymore!" I said.

"Oh, cool," said Theresa.  "Must've just been -"


"Crap, the light's back on."

I drove home and logged on to, where I was able to download the Owner's Manual for the 2008 Chrysler Sebring.  As it turns out, the light on my dashboard indicates that the air pressure in one (or more) of my tires has fallen below the recommended level.

Seriously?  There's a "check the air in your tires" light?  You ask me, this is a waste of electricity and a major pain in the ass.  What next, a "turn down the radio" light?  A buzzer that goes off when the drink in your cup-holder is running low?

I checked the tires, and what do you know, there was a nail in the left rear.  The tire wasn't flat, but apparently the car noticed the slow leak.


The next day, I replaced the two rear tires because, as my dad once said, never replace one tire at a time because the tire guy has a couple kids in college and needs money for their tuition.  Or something like that.  Is it just me, or does it seem like tires cost a lot more than they should?

I picked the car up at America's Tire Center, and sure enough, the light was no longer illuminated.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy one of those scented pine trees.  The "check air freshener" light just came on.


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Mariann Simms said...

Dammit, Chris...I want a low tire pressure tire, light, too!

That is too nifty. Hell, I'm still standing around in awe with my automatic trunk opener doohickey. "Yeah, that's opens automatically...fall to your knees and worship the chick with the 1999 Cadillac." (Of course everyone probably has one, but I didn't as I had a piece o'crap Dodge Grand Caravan.)

that disney blog said...

HEY! i bought a new car a couple months ago too....and it looks like i'll be car shopping again in November....ugh

i probably won't be able to get anything nearly as fancy as yours. tire pressure light? that's way out of my league.

Quirkyloon said...

Ha! That's funny.

Strange, when I saw that pic, I thought it looked like a doorless toilet stall with an oval seat.


Debbie(single;complicated) said...

ha ha ha!!! Having had a LOT of car issues this post cracked me up!! If my car was able to tell me everything that was wrong with it, the battery would wear down powering all the lights on the dashboard!!...just sayin!:)

Eva Gallant said...

My car sends me an email with an air pressure reading of the tires plus a fluids levels check. Technology is amazing.

ReformingGeek said...

Congrats on the new car but is it a convertible? If so, wear a hat. ;-)

Yes, tires are outrageous. My car, which rhymes with "Bakula" and "Hardy Mex", will have to wait until Christmas to see new feet.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

I knew immediatley what that was cuz my car did that a while back too.

Welcome to the smart car revolution. There's a Mercedes that parks shit, really.

Anonymous said...

I also used to have a car that rhymes with "bored florist." After putting thousands of dollars into that hunk of junk I finally tried to sell it. No surprise, nobody wanted to buy it :( The best price I got was at a junkyard for parts.

I'm Jane said...

I had a bored florist too. Hated it. Traded it in for a car that rhymes with Beep. Much better.

corfubob said...

My car is a scooter that rhymes with Jane Fonda - it's got three warning lights. One at the front that tells people to get out of my way, and a red one at the back which says beware of blue smoke.

The third one says 'the engine has stopped - please catch the bus' Life is so much simpler on Corfu, Greece.

J.J. in L.A. said...

My a/c had been out since June and mom said, "It's fine." Then came the 1st REAL heat of the summer. She took it in and the whole system was shot (it's a '98). $850 and 2 days later, I had my car back. And I'm sooooooo enjoying that a/c this weekend!

Mik said...

Now you mention it, it does look like a tire going flat! Would've taken me longer to figure it out, I mean who reads the manual?

Peter Varvel said...

I just saw an article online last month about this very same warning light/signal, and how the majority of people have no clue what it means.
Did you write it?

Nick said...

I have a light on my dashboard that comes on whenever there is a problem with one of the lights on the dashboard. Very handy.

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