My car is dying. Or I should clarify to say it might already be dead. Technically, it’s been on its “last legs” for many years now, but she’s been hanging in there like a trooper, until a few weeks ago. Now, I’m not going to blame Mark, but it was while he was driving that he noticed she was sputtering, perhaps the transmission slipping? I said, no no no, you just have to know when to ease off the gas. But alas, the next time I drove, I too felt a new and unfamiliar jolting. Oy.
I’m not excited about the prospect of car shopping. I started the process last summer when we were going to move to Michigan, and we didn’t think there was any way my 1999 Audi A4 was going to make it all the way from Baltimore there. But nothing panned out, and so we slowly (we’re topping out around 70 these days)/silently (radio died during a protracted 6 month dead battery scenario last year)/noisily (the engine/turbo is super loud) made the trip across MD, PA, OH and MI.
It’s not that a new car wouldn’t be nice (or a new used car), but I just LOVE this car. My parents got me this car somewhere between my 16th and 17th birthdays. I had never even heard of Audi, but after doing their research, they determined that this was the safest car around. (I would have been excited with a Ford Explorer but “they can roll”…funny how that’s exactly the car my sister got…hashtag oldersiblingproblems.)
They actually leased this car. I drove it the last two years of high school (during which time she was dubbed a female named “Summer”…little-known fact), and then my sister drove her for the year after that. At that point, I was allowed to have a car at college, so my parents purchased it off the lease and she came to school with me (which is when my sister got the leased Explorer fyi).
It seems like immediately after buying it off the lease, it started to have issues. The brakes. The brakes again (I think the shop we took it to only changed the pads the first time, so the worn rotors corrupted the new pads super quickly, or something like that…insert “car talk” here.) The anti-lock brakes apparently stopped working (creating a constantly flashing light on my dashboard….I don’t even notice it anymore but it gives rise to a lot of passenger/mechanic comment…fyi, pump the breaks if you don’t have anti-lock ones). The belts. The computer, which kept popping the Engine light on…not that anyone could find anything wrong with the engine. The battery. The battery a few more times (especially at inopportune times like in the bank parking garage after working late). Headlights out, cracked windshield, flat tires, and more flat tires (apparently there are lots of nails lying around Baltimore City streets). In the last few years, I think the Turbo pick-up has been petering out, burning oil. So I just carry around some extra liters in the trunk to refill from time to time. NBD. I stopped driving her on the highway when I got to Michigan because I can’t pick it up fast enough to be safe. The turn signal has also died, so I manually have to move the handle up-and-down up-and-down to make the light blink. Passengers are always like WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!? but I don’t even notice it anymore, and I find myself doing it when driving anyone else’s car now too. And now this transmission scenario, although driving it in the optional manual transmission mode seems to help. I can make it work.
Because just look how cute she is!
Okay, so this doohickey got knocked off:
But it just covers the little thing that pops up to wash the headlight when you use the windshield washer fluid. Not an integral part. Yes, she’s a bit banged up: upholstery tearing, question mark on whether or not the lighter can be used as a power source or if it actually drains the battery of whatever’s plugged in, bumper and taillights a bit mangled from the tap-tap game of city living, and the usual dents and dings from side swiping garage pillars.
But on the other-hand, she really has been quite a safe car for all these years. An all wheel drive, she’s super heavy (I feel like all cars are flimsy plastic now) with a pretty wide wheel base for being a compact car. She was excellent in this winter’s massive snow storms. She curves so well, you barely have to slow down. Now, when I’m driving Mark’s newer “safer” car, sometimes I take turns too fast and have to hit the brakes or acceleration depending on the scenario. When driving my parents’ larger newer Toyota I can feel a light breeze shake the car, whereas the Audi could drive through a tornado and not even sway (okay, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration but I’m not sure because I haven’t tried).
I’m so hesitant to give her up. Does anyone have a super trust-worthy mechanic who can give her a top to bottom once over and make me a punch list of the minimally necessary repairs to make her safe? Yes, she’s 15 years old, but she’s ALMOST at 150,000 miles, and I feel that a car like this should be able to go to 200,000. Right?!?!? Please?!?!?!
Clearly I have attachment issues (like when I had to trade in my flip phone), so I wrote this cheesy poem to commemorate the end of the Audi era. Bring on the tin can I guess. Sad face.
Ode to an Audi
My first car ever, age fifteen
Silver and cute, best in the snow, heavy but pert
We drove back and forth to school of white, yellow and green
First I, then my sister, we drove alert
Off to college, then work, we went
Often faulty, burning oil, sticky buttons, no radio in the end
Held on so long, to one hundred fifty thousand miles we meant
But fell three thousand short, and I can no longer pretend
That we’ll ride along together for years to come. The end of an era. Goodbye my friend.