Scott buys a new car

The one time I remember performing any sort of car maintenance with Dad the chore ended with him putting a screwdriver through the oil filter. On purpose. So if I know and care very little about cars, and car maintenance, you know why. I want them to get me where I’m going, with some semblance of comfort and reliability. Beyond that, gravy.

I’ve been an Accord guy, first a ’92 and then a ’97. I drove the latter – all 158,462 miles of it – until yesterday. It took me on road trips – with Dad – to Cooperstown, New York and Johnson City, Tennessee. Mrs. SMEs and I took it out to Washington, D.C. in 2000. Six years later, I drove it back. You couldn’t hardly keep the damn things from running. One time in an auto shop in Arkansas my ’92 turned over and started with the distributor cap removed. The mechanic brought me into the bay to show me this. He said it was impossible, but there it was, purring away. 

“Cool,” I probably remarked. “Can you put the cap-dealy back on so I can go home?”

So it just seems a little wrong – in character, but wrong – that I flicked the ’97 aside yesterday like a ball of lint on a shirt. Before signing the last papers at Estes Hyundai I took a picture (above), because it seemed like the right thing to do. Caring seemed like the right thing to do. But I didn’t, not really, and it was only that fact that made me sad.

I got over it quickly, though. Hot new girlfriends have a way of doing that.

Say hello to the 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE. Suddenly, not only do I know those are 18″ alloy wheels. I care.

(For what it’s worth, we loved the guys at Estes…consider buying from them)


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

7 thoughts

  1. The screwdriver-through-the-filter thing is a trick for removing an old oil filter when changing a car’s oil. These things can be hard to grip and turn because of their shape. The screwdriver provides leverage, and since you’re replacing the filter anyway, it’s OK to destroy it. FYI

  2. True, and it worked. But that’s why you should only “hand-tighten,” no?

    And using the incident as an example of cleverness is much less funny.

  3. Not sure what year your Elantra would have been, but Hyundai has completely reinvented itself. Fantastic reliability, great gas mileage and high-end styling…we really fell for the Sonata.

  4. 2001. I really loved it but it did start having major issues right after the bumper to bumper warranty expired. But it only cost $9500. Brand new. And it was pretty nice, nicer for sure than D’s Honda that we bought the same year.

  5. Joanna’s 1993 Accord has been everywhere and still going strong. High school in Arkansas, college in Minnesota, summer work in Wyoming, grad school in Vermont, NPS work in Virginia, now Missouri…and that’s not counting road trips. 160,000-something and going strong. Hell of good a car.

    Interesting thing about judging carmaking quality, you’re always working with old data. When we bought our truck backn in 2006 at the founding of the farm, Toyota was by far the most reliable and recommended brand, though I harbored strong nostalgia for my old ’95 F-150 I’d given up in grad school. Right about that time was when Toyota started slipping and Ford catching up, but no one knew that until a few years later. Now I wish I’d gone with Ford again (for political reasons, too) but back then who knew?

  6. The year-1993-The car in question for the screwdrive-thru-the-filter was a ’77 Pontiac Bonneville, ironically, the same age as SME. The filter had been hand-tightened when installed as the design/layout precluded the use of any normal tool. [17 yrs later, the incident is still vivid in my memory as it is the last maintenance I’ve attempted on a vehicle. I like to think of it as my version of an economic stimulus plan-pay someone else to do it.]

    SME failed to mention that he refused to drive the aforementioned “tank” as it was not “cool” to a budding 16-yr-old driver, although his little sis did manage to drive it two years later when she came of age (and 5 of her buddies could pile into it with her during HS lunch races to various dining establishments). My failure to pass along any mechanical ability to SME is up there with my complete lack of fishing skills that he had to overcome.

    “Big Bonnie” had been purchased, sight unseen, in 1985, via phone call from the Aleutian Islands to my wife’s uncle in Iowa. Moving from Adak, AK to Monterey, CA, I flew to Cedar Rapids airport (which most realize is not on the way) where I was to meet “Uncle Bob” to make the purchase. The fact that I couldn’t find my checkbook upon arrival was a small matter.

    It was purchased for $200 more than what I received for the piece of junk (due to the salty air of the Aleutians) 78 Madza GLC it replaced. In 1996 (175,000 miles), I sold it for $440 cash. My math says I made money on that one.

    [Final note-when the little SME turns 7 in March, I’ll take him to the store for a Snickers candy bar in the 1950 red GMC pickup that his great-great grandfather bought brand new the year I was born. I was 7 when I got my first Snickers in that same vehicle. We still have the original bill of sale. I have received approval from Mrs SME for the trip down memory lane as the pickup has no seatbelts, no turn signals, no side mirrors, and a rear bumper made from a 6×6 piece of lumber-SME’s grandpa retrofitted a rear-view mirror in 1987.]

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