Holidays, car troubles and a clueless writer - Jason A. Smith

I've come to a conclusion in the last couple of days.

Holidays are bad for my vehicles.

I've noticed it sporadically over the years, like when I was involved in a car accident as a child, two days before Christmas.

But lately, it seems I have had more than my fair share of automobile woes, on or near a special occasion of some kind.

Take, for instance, Valentine's Day 2007. I was on my way to cover a story at the airport, when my beloved Ford F-150 died a horrible death on Interstate 75. An attendant at the body shop later informed me I had thrown an engine rod into the oil pan of the truck.

I wasn't sure what it meant, but I was positive it was not a good thing.

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, since I am notoriously bad at vehicle maintenance. Some might say I was asking for trouble, by not taking my truck in for regular oil changes and such.

Regardless, I wasn't happy, and I wanted someone to blame. The only suitable person I could find, of course, was in my mirror.

I ended up having to sell my pride and joy to a body shop. The repairs would have cost more money than I had, and more than the vehicle was worth.

Eventually, my wife and I got through the situation, and found another car to get me where I needed to go. I told myself I wouldn't let myself get into such dire straits again.

One might think I would have learned my lesson from that whole episode.

However, such a person would have been proven wrong last weekend, the day after Independence Day.

I was driving around my old hometown of Conyers, enjoying a long holiday weekend, when it happened.

My Honda Accord started sputtering. I looked at the gas gauge, hoping the problem was as simple as an empty tank.

As one might guess by the fact I'm writing this column, the car had enough gas, yet still refused to go anywhere.

It was at that precise moment I realized, it had been a while since I had put oil in the car.

I found out Tuesday there were other issues to contend with as well, which will be accompanied by a hefty price tag.

Needless to say, I'm less than thrilled about these developments. I could try to joke about it, and say recent events were my car's way of telling me it needed a holiday, but I don't think it will help.

At this moment, I'm once again faced with the knowledge of several key facts.

First, I am reminded of how clueless I am about taking care of a vehicle.

Second, I absolutely must do better at saving my money. That way, when life happens and the next minor disaster enters my world, I'll be prepared for it.

Third, I really have to watch my step around holidays. After all, there seems to be a direct correlation between my ability to mess up my car, and local body shops' propensity to be closed.

All I know for sure is this. I simply must take good care of my next vehicle, whenever I get it, for the next few months.

My birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year, and I'm not taking any chances.

Jason Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.