Reflections of a Mazda: Dealing with a Driver who is a Lemonhead

Guest blogger: Lilo, the 1993 Mazda 626

Don’t ask me what Chas is trying to accomplish in this photo, but I have noticed a funny taste in my wiper fluids lately…

So I finally got around to reading Chas’s entry on cars that are lemons. But the thing I find ironic is that there is little mention of his own problems – oh, he makes it clear that he knows a great deal about car personalities, but did he ever bring up his knowledge of car maintenance? Of course not. Why not? It is for the simple reason that he doesn’t have any.

Don’t get me wrong, Chas is alright as a person, but I think Chas has about as much knowledge of car mechanics as a duck – a mentally challenged duck… a dead mentally challenged duck.

Why do I say this? Well, I’ve been driving Chas around for about two years, and all I can say is that I’m jealous of Ourtwo, who is now in lemon heaven. If his wife didn’t offer him five bucks for every time he did an oil change, I’d probably be there myself.

But my point here is not to rip on Chas. My point is to give advice to all you cars out there who have lemonheads for drivers. It only takes one to ruin a car, so if you are driving a lemonhead around, here are some tips for making the best of whatever time you have left.

  1. I know it’s standard to turn off your “Check Engine” light after you are repaired. Lemonheads don’t see that light, but their spouses do. If you keep that light on, their spouse will probably nag and bribe them to take you in to get you checked. When, after three months of pestering, they finally take you in, the mechanic will lecture them about keeping the fluids up and getting regular oil changes. They won’t do both, but they will either get you an oil change or get you fresh fluids. After they do, just turn your “Check Engine” light back on.

  2. Being low on oil can get tiring fast. To prevent your driver from spending more than the absolutely necessary time driving you, make sure your heater and air-conditioning never work. This is vital if you drive a lemonhead. The life of a lemonhead primarily consists of eating, sleeping, and puttering. The less puttering they do while driving, the better. You will get the recuperation time you need.

  3. Make lot’s of external noises. Rattle your muffler, squeal your pulleys – anything that will get the attention of passersby. Your lemonhead will just think you are talking to the other cars, but the common Joe will recognize that you are in need of help. They will recommend to your driver that they should tighten your pulleys or check the brake fluid. Of course he won’t do that, but if he hears this advice enough, he will start getting worried around inspections time. Be sure that when that time comes around that you play it up good – conk out a few times if you need to. He’ll get you into the shop – he won’t want to, but he’ll do it.

  4. Whatever you do, do NOT make the solutions to your problems too obvious! While it would be nice if your driver was savvy enough to fix the problem, don’t forget that he is a lemonhead.  His idea of obvious and yours are quite different, and if he feels confident he can fix it, he will try. And if he tries, you have a problem. In fact, you’ll have many problems. Anything that requires more than adding fluid ought to be done in the shop for you, or you’ll be in the junkyard before inspection day.

So if you are dealing with a driver who is a lemonhead, your prime directive is to get into the shop as OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. It’s your only chance for survival. This will also keep him from ever saving up enough money to buy a new vehicle, which is good for you, because as a lemonhead, your driver knows about as much about selling a car as he does about fixing one, so he’ll just junk you.

I’m proud of my adopted brother, Buzz, who has just conjured up enough problems to keep him in the driveway for several months while Chas saves up the money to get him fixed. That will keep us both around for awhile – I get to continue being the primary vehicle and Buzz gets a rest.

I’m not worried about Buzz, because he’ll be the only vehicle big enough to carry the whole family once Chas’s new baby comes along, and I’m not worried about myself because I get to be the primary vehicle for a while.

Besides, it’s almost inspection time.

Read More Funny Entries

When your Car’s a Lemon, Make Lemonade

Cars are like people. It’s the messed up ones that have the fascinating personalities. It’s the lemons that have all the great stories. How many funny stories are there about brand new flawless cars? I am no mechanic. I know very little about the inner workings of an automobile, but I have a good deal of experience working with junky cars.

Image courtesy of iGeir Halvorsen/i on Flickr
Image by Geir Halvorsen on Flickr

The key to coping with a clunker is to have a sense of humor. With the right approach, this can be easy.

Ourtwo’s suggestions for getting the most out of a clunker.

1. Name your car.

Naming your car gives you the first glimpses into its personality. The most recent car that my wife and I had was a small white ’96 Dodge neon. We named him Ourtwo, after R2D2 on Star Wars, because he had so many odd creaks and squeaks and he looked like him. We even bought some boat letters and plastered his name on his bumper. I admit, the spelling was a little wacky, but that too added to Ourtwo’s personality. People would read the letters and say, “What’s Ah-oort-wo?”

2. Know your car’s personality.

This is essential if you are ever to get along with your car. You must recognize that your car has its own ideas about things. Your car has an attitude. It also has fears and eccentricities. Some even have obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Ourtwo was a good car, but he was incredibly doctor-shy. Every time we took him to the mechanic, his symptoms would magically vanish. The first couple times I thought it was an amusing irony, but after the 4th and 5th time, I realized that Ourtwo had a phobia.

Ourtwo also had a strange left-turn signal. When you first pushed the signal, it would click like normal, but as soon as you pressed the brake, the clicker would go berserk. Sometimes it would just stay on. Sometimes it would double it’s pace. Sometimes it would double it’s pace, then triple, and get faster and faster until it stayed on completely all in a matter of about 3 seconds. Other times it would change to a random pace, clicking without any conceivable pattern. We decided Ourtwo was trying to tell us something, since there seemed to be no way of predicting which click style he would use each time. So we made up a chart with all of the clicks, and assigned each to a fortune or prediction so Ourtwo could let us know by means of the left turn signal what kind of premonition he was Continue reading When your Car’s a Lemon, Make Lemonade