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A Cranky Old Man

SO I am hopeless at handling automobiles according to my dad. He had secretly confirmed it long ago but when I came home driving with a smoked up bonnet on July 1, finally he said it to my face. 

"Buying a new car is not going to solve it if you slacked in caring for it.
"With you, it'll just be a matter of months till the new one also ends up like this.
"Look at mine - it's more than 30 years old but it's as good as new because I've cared for it," said dad, looking helplessly at my Suzuki Vitara 4x4, which was parked outside the gate.

Dad's old machine
With the bonnet propped up, the smoke went up higher in heavy grey swirls and the smell of a possibly barbequed gasket was over-powering. It took about 12 hours for the smoke to subside but the smell lingered on. The only saving grace was that the engine still roared a mean roar when I started it. My mother was quite hysterical when I arrived from Kuala Lumpur that day.

"What, are you crazy to drive along when you know it was smoking ?It looks like it could've burst into flames anytime. If I had been with you in that car, I would've gotten down and taken a bus back on my own," she said, aghast at the vehicle's condition.

Oh well. What can I say ? I knew something was wrong when the temperature gauge was shooting up by the time I had passed Tapah. The car felt hot and I sensed heat radiating from the bonnet. After the Ipoh toll, I saw smoke seeping out from the sides and intense burnt smell filled the space inside, but what was I supposed to do ? I was just 10 minutes from home, so I continued driving, desperately hoping that I wouldn't be charred to death. Not my idea of death. Not on July 1.

My Vitara and I have a long history together - something like a love/ hate relationship. He (yes, it's a male) is like a cranky old man who has a lot of issues. Ever since I've inherited him, he has never failed to break down on me at least once in every six months, costing me lots of cash, heartache and disturbed sleep. So much so, every photo I have of him is when he's being towed away to the nearest car workshop. Once he had completely died on me at a basement carpark in Pavilion mall. No tow trucks could come in, and no mechanic was willing to help as well. Finally after two days, and a hefty carpark fee, a kind mechanic helped to bring him out of the carpark to a waiting tow truck. The alternator had died. So, it's not my fault.

Not mine, but like mine
On another occasion, he had stalled in the middle lane of Jalan Maarof in Bangsar during a thunderstorm, and I tell ya, I panicked big time. It was pouring outside and there was a mini flash flood on that street. After two hours, he was towed to a far-away workshop, and for 10 days after that, I had the tow-truck driver calling to offer me rides since I didn't have a car ! Anyway, upon check the mechanic said there was nothing wrong with it except for some wiring problems. Again, not my fault or is it ? Just like that, he has died on me countless times, and no one (mechanic) knows why or how exactly. In January, I had spent RM4,000 on the engine.

I don't know how else to handle it. I check it regularly - engine oil, water, battery checks. In fact, I had throughly checked it before I left KL on July 1. But guess what ? He just had to screw up. Old and senile (but I still love him though). Upon dad's check later that day, there was a hairline crack on the top part of the radiotor, which had caused water to seep out of it when the car was moving.

"This, you wouldn't have possibly known. You can't see the crack or leak unless you're moving on the road for some steady distance. But why didn't you stop when it was smoking ?," said dad. You see, somebody's got to be blamed.

Yesterday, a mechanic picked it up. I'm now without a car, but my uncle is loaning me his Kancil for as long as I need it (Thanks to him, he had changed all four tyres and serviced up everything so it's safe for me). She is a good girl. Not because she is small and white, but because she's reliable. I've been driving her ever since I was 18, and we've travelled quite a bit together. Taking her back to KL would be quite an experience though, as I'm so used to looking above other Kancils and sedans from my high Vitara. Handling a manual in KL's depressing bumper-to-bumper crawl is beyond imagination at this point. I'd only know on Wednesday when work starts.

My Kancil
In the meantime, I'm thinking of a new Prius or a Hyundai Tuscon  :D



  1. You must have a pretty dry climate if a car can last 30 years without rusting. I doubt it has airbags though.

  2. Anonymous05 July, 2011

    oh dear what a lot of bad luck you've been having

  3. GB: it's humid here. Rains almost everyday. Dad's car doesn't have airbags. Originally it also didn't have air-cond, but was fixed later :)

    NM: it's just an old car that's giving up. By year end, I should hv a new one :)

  4. haha! your vitara looks identical to my car, trent reznor, and i always refer to him as a cranky old man too! which, if you think about it, is not a very nice homage to the real trent reznor at ALL.

  5. Welcome here Henrietta !
    Hope yours doesn't give you problems :) Met the mechanic yesterday, and there is a whole list of newfound problems :$ ohh yikesss!

  6. I had a Suzuki Vitara about four years ago. We got it used, and the funny thing is that every time we took it to get a smog check or something, the mechanic would comment on what a great car it was.

  7. Perhaps you have kept it well :) so it's good.


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