« #SaveEddie, Part IV: The Agony of Without | Main | #SaveEddie, Part II: The Consequence of Inertia »
Sunday
Aug202017

#SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of Arithmetic

This is the third part in a series of articles chronicling my illogical attempts to repair and restore my long-time owned Pontiac Sunfire, affectionately dubbed "Eddie." Do not anticipate expert repair advice. Trust me, an actual mechanic would have sorted this all out years ago.

Previous Entries:
Part I: The Coefficient of Friction
Part II: The Consequence of Inertia

I’m put in mind of the Soap Opera: so named for their mid-day time slot being so easy to market to housewives, which led to their primary sponsorship coming from cleaning product manufacturers.

First, if I may keep my Man Card valid, I never watch soap operas. Instead, I occasionally tune to them during a slow lunch shift and invite coworkers to provide their own dialogue. All I know is I see old interlaced camera sensors capturing underprepared actors in too much makeup under uninspired studio lighting. Spend five minutes watching one of these and you’ll find yourself mocking them. Three minutes, if you’ve already had a beer or two.

But if you find yourself sitting through an entire episode or two, suddenly you’re invested in the characters’ story. All at once, you’re worried who really fathered Zoe’s secretly-adopted twin brother and whether Skyler will ever come out of his sixth coma. Trust me, it happens. Not to me, obviously, since I keep it muted and supply my own material. But watch these long enough and follow along with everybody sleeping with each other while denying you a chance to get in on the action, you’ll start to get flashbacks to high school.

Without a doubt, the stories are formulaic and the cinematography is basic. But I have a bit of admiration for these daytime drudgeries: anything that can suck people in and get them engaged within 22 minutes plus advertising time, should be commended. They should also stand before a firing squad for abusing this power, but commended all the same.

So it is with Eddie: see him on the street or take a short trip, and this is just another late-90s economy car from GM. He makes a general racket as he rattles and whines at idle. The interior is a bit spartan, awash with hard plastics accented by the modern convenience of an aftermarket Bluetooth head unit. Power from the 134 cubic-inch motor is far from abundant, and is again hampered by the three-speed automatic. You’d be forgiven for dismissing this Pontiac Sunfire for the Smith-era, Canadian-built budget car that it is.

But then, you haven’t taken him on a road trip, taking most of it using cruise control at 70mph, letting the motor thrum along at 3200rpm for 400 miles and getting up without much fatigue. You also haven’t taken him down the Blue Ridge Parkway on a fresh set of summer tires. You’ve never goosed the throttle into second gear and rode the torque curve up to cruising speed as you enter the freeway. And you most certainly haven’t spent several hours with an odd assortment of tools trying to hold the engine from pitching forward while you install a new torque strut mount.

I’ve done all this and more. As such, I am emotionally invested in this car’s fate. It’s hard to shake the feeling that his destiny is tied to my own.

Cheesy as it sounds, there’s a communication here. In early 2012, the starter motor was failing, struggling harder to turn the crankshaft with each successive turn of the key. I learned to listen to these cues, so when I heard the fuel pump’s sickly whine four years later, I was able to replace it before it failed. And again, when he idled rich after driving some distance, I was able to diagnose a failing coolant temperature sensor before a check engine light ever illuminated itself.

So with that in mind, and considering everything I’ve poured in to maintain this car and all he has given back, you can imagine how much it hurts when the insurance man values Eddie at a paltry $1757.

Words hurt feelings, but numbers can crush a soul.

But I have to think objectively.  The car was purchased on Craigslist for $2600 back in 2008, meaning a depreciation rate of about $100/year, requiring only occasional repair, considering its methods of manufacture.  This may have been the deal of the decade for me, ranking up there with some $1200 speakers I once bought for a mere $200 (legitimately, I assure you) and the time I provided positive affirmation to a coworker and wound up dating a smart, sexy redhead who enjoys watching Doctor Who with me.

And at the same time, there’s the emotional component.  $1700 barely begins to cover the cost of the work done to this car.  $1000 was dropped early on an entirely new air conditioning system.  Last year I bought new wheels and summer tires, totaling $900.  I’ve saved money by installing the replacement fuel pump, alternator, radio, cooling fan motor and gaskets for the valve cover and transmission pan myself, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t put a value on sweat equity.

I’m not turning the car in, so instead the insurer cuts us a check for what it’s worth and we set to work.  But first, I’m gonna need a rental, since Eddie isn’t quite street legal right now.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (16)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    Response: kayak fish finder
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    Response: best fish finder
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
  • Response
    #SaveEddie, Part III: The Inconvenience of
  • Response
    Response: 2 people like it

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>