A Tale of Two Cars

For fifteen years I owned and drove a used Ford Escort. It was nothing fancy, just a common Ford to carry me home. But last fall I sold the Escort and bought a used Honda Accord. It seemed like a fitting car—after all, the book of Acts reports that the apostles were in one Accord. (There are Sundays that the entire gathering at the church I attend could fit in that one Accord.) Oddly, two of my daughters have also bought used Accords, so now the driveway contains three Accords rather than one Accord. I’m not even sure what that means.

When I had owned the Escort for about five years, the air conditioner began to fail intermittently. When it finally stopped working for good, I had a mechanic at the shop examine it. The mechanic reported that the failure was in a relay switch that was supposed to divert power from the air conditioner when I needed to accelerate. The switch had frozen in the “divert” position, so the air conditioner was receiving no power from the engine. A relay switch is extremely inexpensive, but this switch was embedded in a part which would cost $350 to replace. At the time I was willing to pay $350 for necessary maintenance, but finances were too tight to spend $350 on mere comfort. For the next ten summers, I drove with the window open even on the hottest of days.

Then I test-drove the Accord and decided to buy it. The day I paid for the car and drove it home, the car lot workers had left it running with the air conditioner blowing to the point that the gas tank was almost empty. The interior of the car was cooled. It seemed that the air conditioner worked fine.

But as the temperatures rose this spring, it seemed that the air conditioner in my Accord no longer worked. It blew hot air instead of cold, and it made odd noises when I tried to run it. I ignored the problem for a while—I was used to driving with the window open—but when I had the oil changed last weekend, I paid a little extra and asked the mechanic to check the air conditioner as well.

The mechanic reported that the air compressor was not working at all. He could replace the compressor for a few hundred dollars, but the company recommended replacing two other parts at the same time. In fact, they would not warranty the compressor if they did not replace the other parts. I told the mechanic I’d come back about midweek for the repair. That gave me time to think about whether I wanted to risk replacing only the compressor or wanted the full repair done.

Wednesday morning I brought the car to the mechanic and left it in his shop. He had it all day, with instructions to do the complete repair. It turned out that the compressor had failed because one of those other parts had disintegrated, so I wouldn’t have gotten by with replacing only the compressor.

The irony is that I went ten summers without air conditioning in my Escort because I wouldn’t spend $350, but I ended up spending several times that amount of money to have a working air conditioner in my Accord. That pair of decisions strikes me as a little strange, but so it goes. J.

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7 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cars

  1. It’s crazy to think how we all lived just fine (more or less) without air conditioned everything not so long ago. Growing up in NY, we didn’t have centralized AC, and it would get hot and humid during the summer, so we would open the front door and windows in the morning to let the cool air in. Now, though? I couldn’t even imagine living without. How ever did we survive back then? The horror! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that deep in your thoughts you’d finally bought a “new” car that was to have AC and by Gosh AC it would have!!!
    And I would have done the same— I am hard pressed to live without AC— and this coming from one whose elementary schools was not air conditioned or the house I grew up in until I got to high school

    Liked by 1 person

    • The same is true of me, Julie. I remember sweltering July and August days and nights with the windows wide open, and sometimes a fan in the window. Now, if the overnight low is going to be seventy or warmer, we run the air. We keep the house at 78 in the summer to save money, but my workplace is set at 71. Since I’m mostly sitting at a desk, I have to wear a sweater to keep warm. J.

      Liked by 1 person

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