I was eighteen years old and looking to purchase a car. Since I did not have a lot of money I was not a picky shopper. I just wanted something that would get me to work. A friend of a friend was selling a car for $500. The price was right so I went and looked at the car. The car was 1986 Dodge Lancer ES with a turbo engine. Leather seats, a digital dash and lots of options. The tires alone on the car were worth $400. Little did I know the problems I would have. I am going to do my best to tell every problem I had with the car but I am sure I will forget some things as there were so many.
My first indications of what was to come should have been when I had problems with the car starting. I would go to work and if it rained when I got out of work the car would not start. We could get it to start sometimes by shooting some starting fluid on a spark plug. Our guess there was something wrong with the spark plugs or distributor after getting stuck at work one night. We went to purchase new spark plug wires. When the old ones were removed we saw there was electrical tape wrapped around the inside of the wires. It was a wonder that the car started at all.
Put The Window Down To Unlock The Door?
The car had power windows and power locks. For some reason when ever you rolled down the passenger side window down more than halfway the door would unlock and pop open. After taking the door apart we found out that the previous owner had “fixed” the power window by putting in a washer to hold the window on the track. The washer was too big and every time the window when down it hit the door mechanism and open the door. The part to fix the door was only $5. I have no idea why he did not fix it the correct way. After seeing the electrical tape in the spark wires I did not think he had any car repair skills.
The next problem we had was when ever we were driving around steam would some out of the front of the car. We then had the radiator and hoses replaced. Problem fixed.
Going into problem number four. The car was making this ka-thunk sound when ever I shifted out of park. I brought it into the garage. While the hood was up you could see that the engine was moving a lot when shifting. After the mechanic looked at it he saw I was missing a motor mount. Problem number four fixed.
This problem was one of the scariest problem I had. It took a while to figure out. The problem first started when the car would stall all the time. We would be stuck on the side of the road a lot calling people to come jump us or give us ride so we could have the car towed. This was before cell phones. There was a lot of walking to go find a pay phone. One time the car stalled on the side of the highway during a big snow storm. I couldn’t even keep the hazards on due to them draining the battery. I almost got hit by a large plow truck because he couldn’t see me covered in snow. The final straw was when I was driving down the highway and anything electrical in the car died. I had nothing. I had to try to brake while going 65 mph with no power brakes. I also had to steer with no power steering to the side of the road. It was pretty scary. At this point the car was dead. The mechanic figured that the cars computer was dead. He actually found us a good deal on a new one. He replaced it and we were back on the road again.
It’s Hot In Here
This next incident is what finally did the car in. My husband and I were driving down the Interstate. We got about 15 minutes away from the house and could smell gasoline. Then there was this puttering sound. We decided to take the next exit to pull over and see what was wrong. We came off the highway and stopped at the light at the end of the off ramp. That is when we noticed the black smoke coming out from under the hood. We were stuck in traffic and knew we had to get off the road. The car was still running so we drove through the light as soon as it turned green. There was a gas station right there we figured we could just pull into the lot there. As soon as I hit the gas on the car flames shot out of this small vent on the hood of the car. I just turned the car off and left it in the road so we could get to the phone and call for help. As we were running to the phone some people yelled from their car. “You know your car is on fire”. We thought “Yeah that is why we are running this way”. Being near a gas station there was a firefighter pumping gas. He grabbed an extinguisher and tried to help put the fire out. By the time the fire truck got there the fire was out. Everything under the hood was destroyed. Anything that was not metal was melted. They figure that the fire started from the fuel injection box. The car was finally gone and we sent it on it’s way to a junkyard where it still sits to this day.
Most of these things went wrong on a weekly basis. Every paycheck I had went t right back into the car. I was also pregnant at the time. Once the car was gone we knew we had to get a nicer car. A car payment was going to be much cheaper than what I was paying out in repairs for that awful car. The next car I purchased ended up being my favorite car of all time. Every cloud does have a silver lining.