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vehicular hypochondria

April 18, 2011

My cars have always been a major source of stress in my life.  For all of the convenience I enjoy having transportation, I also fear major mechanical breakdowns, resulting in oodles of dollars and inconvenience to fix the old girl.  You would think I drive a clunker but I don’t; I have a very reliable Ford Focus ZX5 and before that a Ford Escort.  Still, I was and am sensitive to the way my cars handle on various roads, in different weather conditions, and their reactions to potholes and bumps.  I analyzed every new and random noise: Is it coming from the front or back? Is it metal on metal? Is it grinding or clinking?  Is it consistent or does it only happen on certain occasions? Is it the brakes? Or the tires? Transmission? Muffler? Water pump? Tire rod? Control arm bushing*? Timing belt? Windshield wipers?  Can you say hypochondriac?  

I used to exasperate my dad and Charles with my insistence that something was “off” about my car or there was a noise I couldn’t identify.  One of them would take it for a test drive and come back claiming nothing was wrong.  I rarely believed them – they didn’t know my cars the way I knew them – but neither one ever fell apart.  Well not until now… Ok so my current car – the Focus also known as Zelda or just Z – hasn’t technically fallen apart, but she’s on the brink.  Really. 

My most recent mechanic used to be great, but the shop went downhill over the past couple of years.  I didnt’ notice at first.  I only took my car in for oil changes and trip checks – nothing significant.  They always told me everything was fine, but recently minor issues started to arise – things that they should have caught.  And now I’m totally freaking out!  Zelda has not been herself lately and my hypochondriac antennas are picking up every variance and discrepancy.  I know I need to take her in to get checked out, but 1) I’m not sure where to take her and 2) I’m not sure when I can take her.  Not to mention, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to know how bad it is.  What if it does cost me oodles of dollars and/or take longer than a day or two to fix?  How do I survive without Zelda?  But then what if she falls apart while I’m driving?  What if a tire falls off or the steering goes out? 

Sigh.  I suppose it’s time to take out an ad:  Vehicular Hypochondriac now accepting applications for a trustworthy, patient mechanic.  Must have excellent hearing (for those only-the-owner-of-the-car-can-hear noises).  Please provide references.

*This went out on me when I was driving my parents’ Aerostar years ago.  I don’t remember what it is or even if my current car has a control arm bushing, but I’m paranoid that it’s going to go at any moment.

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