November 15th, 2009
Luciana rolled her eyes at me again. Well, maybe she didn’t, but she should have. I was debating what to do about my beat up lemon of a Subaru. It was stuck in the parking garage with a stripped spark plug bore, courtesy of me. It’s not like I haven’t changed spark plugs before, but in the Subaru the head is aluminum (the place you stick the plugs into) and the spark plugs are steel and ceramic. I cross threaded the plug bore…and then stripped it.
I knew what she was thinking: Your car is a junker and you should replace it. But I’m loathe to toss out perfectly working things. And while my car wasn’t actually working, I’d recently invested in a new transmission because of a shot throw-out bearing. The struts were great (I’d replaced them myself), drive axles, brakes…and a bunch of other things on the car worked just fine. But it IS a 1992.
I knew what else she was thinking: Mechanics are mechanics and you are a photographer. I know she was thinking that because she actually said it.
I guess, gone are the days when I worked on my own car. Thermostats in the dust bowl of a road side bivouac. In-tank fuel pump hours before a back country ski trip. Drive axles and spilled transmission fluid in the back yard. A few brake jobs. Stuffing control arms into a backpack and bicycling them downtown to a machine shop. The list goes on.
I try to do it because I want to understand the vehicle, I want to understand what the mechanic says, and because in the past I’ve had more time than money. These days, I have less time and not much more money which is why, after I had the car towed to the shop, I choked at the repair estimate.
They would need to pull the engine, remove the head and put a steel insert into it so the spark plug would stay in. While they’re at it, they will replace all the gaskets, water pump, etc. And they suggested I do the other head too. I get it. The engine is out, so you might as well.
Sigh. I can’t afford to junk it and shop for another car. At least my lemon of a Subaru will have a drive train good for another 100k…if something else doesn’t go wrong and, more importantly, I don’t try to fix it myself.
I guess I should listen to Luciana more attentively…I’m a photographer, not a mechanic.
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