Under every hood is a viscous, money-eating monster - Curt Yeomans

We've all had to deal with car repairs, and the pure trouble they cause in our lives.

I've had to take my truck in to be repaired four times in the last eight months. The first time was in February, when the clutch burned out after 10 years of life. Then, I had to take my truck back to the same mechanics to have a carbon dioxide sensor repaired after the truck failed its annual inspection. The instructions given to the mechanics were to only repair what the inspector listed as causes for the failure.

Instead, the mechanics did all kinds of stuff, like changing my spark plugs, and charged me a whole lot of money for it. They also said they fixed the problems listed by the inspector.

The truck failed the re-inspection.

I took it back and was charged an additional $100 to fix the problem they were originally hired to fix. I spent close to $600 to get the truck to passable status.

The truck finally passed. I have vowed to not take my truck back to those mechanics, even if it's dying and they are the nearest repair shop.

The final trip, this time to an exhaust repair shop, was to repair a broken exhaust pipe. It's suspected (by me) that the pipe was broken when one of the previous mechanics was changing out the clutch, because it started making a "burping" noise when I got the truck back at that time.

In all, I have spent upwards of $1,000, roughly the value of the truck, since the beginning of the year, just to keep my truck operating. You know, when I got that truck back in 2000, a friend of mine suggested I give it a name so it would seem more like a person to me. We decided on "Jack," just because it seemed like a "Jack." It's a truck, but it's not as tough as other trucks.

Now, I call it "Quasimodo," as in the hunchback of Notre Dame. It's even got a giant crack that's been slowly spreading across my windshield since December 2004.

In addition to frequent trips to the mechanic, I've had to replace a headlight. Now, I have to replace the other headlight because I currently have one really bright headlight, and one dim headlight. It essentially looks like my truck has a lazy headlight.

Last year, the turn signals stopped functioning. I'd flip the switch and the signal would come on, but it wouldn't flash. I had to flip the switch up and down when I stopped at lights, as a result, just so it would look like I had a functioning turn signal. Imagine driving up a hill, alongside Florida drivers, and having to repeatedly flip a switch so everyone will know I'm coming over. Then you get stuck at a red light, and have to spend two minutes flipping the switch.

Up, and down.

Up, and down.

Up, and down.

Finally, I don't have a working air conditioner. I turn it on, it blows out hot air despite saying the air is cold. Now, it gets hot in that truck, very hot. It's a black truck. What do you expect? Unfortunately, I made the mistake of putting an egg croissant on my dashboard while I was driving to work one day, and then forgetting about it when I arrived at the newspaper. Yes, I threw it out.

I still hear the jokes about cooking food in my truck, especially after I picked up a case of cookies on my way to an interview one morning and the heat melted the plastic case while I was conducting the interview. I just want to say one thing in response to cooking-in-my-truck jokes: The fish don't fry on the dashboard, and the beans don't burn on the hood!

Presently, I'm hoping the worst of my truck problems are behind me. I think Quasimodo somehow senses that its time on this earth is short (if it's possessed by a demon, a la "Christine"). I plan on getting rid of it by the end of the year, and trading up to a Honda, which lasts longer and doesn't have a money-eating monster hiding under its hood.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 247 or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.