Saturday, December 5, 2009

Unexpected Learning

I walked into the garage a couple of days before we left for New York and found a pool of pinky-red fluid flowing out from under the car. Sunday, the day mechanics watch football and drink beer and do NOT go into work or answer the phone to tell you what the fluid is, what to do about it and if you can drive a hemorrhaging car in to be fixed.

Did you know if you enter "pinky-red fluid leak" into Yahoo Answers, the name of the fluid will be waiting for you?  It's steering column fluid or transmission fluid or antifreeze, depending on the shade and color and how it smells and how it feels when you rub it between your thumb and finger.  And you can't/shouldn't drive the car if you've lost most/all of any of those fluids.

Of course, if you thought it was antifreeze and you had put a bowl under the leak to catch any remaining fluid, and the next morning you poured that fluid and a goodly slug of filtered water into the white plastic container on the right side of your engine, you might think you could make it to the dealership.

You would be wrong.

Then if the car overheated before you got past the community mailboxes but the engine temperature needle dropped while you fumbled with the hood latch and peered at the engine, and you thought maybe you could make it to the dealership with a couple of stops, you'd be wrong.

And if, when you figured out it might take forever to go the 15 miles to the dealership in half-mile increments followed by engine-cooling periods, you finally called a tow truck, you'd realize it would have been less stressful to wait beside your neighborhood mailboxes, or even in your own house, than on the side of the road in the dark.  Although it will probably not be dark by the time the tow truck arrives at your roadside location.

But you'll bless the TWO large go-cups of coffee, book and camera that came with you.  Better to be awake and armed with words and pictures in case of attack. 

And, in the end, you'll have learned about pinky-red fluid, how to unlatch the car hood and where the radiator cap is--which is where you should have poured the pinky-red fluid and water instead of in the antifreeze overflow container, but which probably wouldn't have made any difference because of the radiator's Niagara Falls issue.

And you'll know Bob, the Assistant Service Manager at the dealership.  You'll know him so well that when, the first morning the car is in your garage again instead of the airport parking lot it occupied after the Niagara repair, it drips pinky-red fluid on the floor (drips this time, not gushes) and you call him, he knows you by the sound of your voice and he's got a loaner car ready.  And he replaces the radiator he installed ten days before, no questions, no charges.


  1. This made me chuckle out loud here this morning.
    Glad it all turned out okay. :)
    And I loved typing out chuckle, although I guess it was more of snort.

  2. Oh Lord. See- this is why I am so grateful my husband is The Car Guy. He is. Officially. Maybe I married him because he could fix houses and cars. Well, that is part of it.
    But great reminder to always keep human-grade fluids and something to read in the car in case of breakdowns. I'm glad you survived and all came out well.

  3. Hooray for loaner cars and good old Bob!


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