21 Simple Steps to Starting Your Car (or my car)


Today my car didn’t start, because it needed a new battery. I knew this because three weeks ago a mechanic in Asheville told me I needed a new battery. He also said I needed new coolant, but he said it in a way that set off my bluff radar, so I told him I’d come back. The mechanic today replaced the battery but told me the coolant was fine. Aha, Asheville mechanic! So you were bluffing! You were going to pocket that coolant money, weren’t you? After all, how would I know if the coolant had changed?

I don’t have a total lack of trust for car mechanics, but I do feel it’s in their best interest to repair as much as possible. I don’t know how cars work, so that leaves me read their body language for tells. They’re going, “Alright, you could use a new air filter, and your back tires are bald…” Meanwhile, I’m staring them down through my Oakley’s going, “I call… all in.” The problem with going all in against car mechanics, is sometimes your car dies a few weeks later.

Fortunately, I was only headed to the gym, and of all the thing to not do, exercise is one of the easiest. Furthermore, I did get three extra weeks out of that battery. It’s not the six months I was hoping for, but it’s still savings. While other folks are buying a new battery every five years, I got five years and three weeks. Over the course of one-hundred years, that’s real savings – possibly $10.

The other positive was that I enjoyed jumping my car. It’s the one car thing I know how to do. Not much you say? I’m sorry, I just made my car go from not starting, to starting. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is, an the moment you breathe life into your own car, your masculinity goes, “Yep, still got it Rusty.” My masculinity’s name is Rusty by the way, and he talks in the third person.

If you ever find yourself in a similar bind, and don’t know what to do, here are twenty-one simple steps that worked for me:

1) Find another vehicle that starts (it helps if you’re home for the holidays and you can use your mom’s car).

2) Find jumper cables (it helps if your mom has jumper cables)

3) Pull up you mom’s car into a place where the cables can reach.

4) Find triggers in both cars to release hoods. Don’t be startled when you hear the hood pop – that’s what it’s supposed to sound like.

5) Raise both hoods, and find the doo-hicky stick thing that holds it up. Rusty calls it the “hood prop,” and then he spits tobacco into an old coke bottle (very disgusting).

6) At this point your hands will be getting cold, so it’s a good time to go inside and ask your mom for mittens.

7) Correctly guess whether to attach the black cable first, or the red cable. You have a 50/50 chance, so the odds are almost in your favor. Also, if you put on the wrong one, I don’t think it will kill you. If you have a smart phone, you can Google which to put on first. (Rusty said it was black first, and then made a racist joke, which I didn’t laugh at, and won’t share).

8. Turn on your mom’s car

9) Leave running, and don’t lock the keys in car

10) Turn on your car.

11) Don’t immediately turn your car off.

12) Correctly guess which to do first: turn off your mom’s car, or remove the cables. Again, you have a 50/50 chance, and I don’t think you’ll die if you get it wrong, but I’m about 50/50 on that.

13) Find a gas station that can take your car at the last minute on a Saturday. It helps if your mom knows a mechanic, and makes the call for you.

14) Explain to Gary that you need a new battery, and when he asks how you know, just look serious and say, “I did a reading.” If he looks impressed, good. If he inquires further, break down and admit that you didn’t listen to your last mechanic.

15) Find somewhere within walking distance to hang out that isn’t a gas station (McDonald’s doesn’t count as not being a gas station).

16) Keep your cell phone close, and turn the ringer volume up. The call could come at any time, and you need to be ready.

17) Prepare yourself mentally for various repairs that need to be done, and think of good excuses to avoid them. For instance, “Oh, that part could catch fire? Well, I just love a nice fire in winter!”

18) Pay for battery and ask for receipt. Say it’s for your “records.”

19) Drive home, park, and continue to not lock keys inside car.

20) Place receipt in “records” (i.e. the recycling bin)

21) Put on slippers and take a nap, you’ve been through a lot.

Note: If you don’t feel like jumping your car, you can always call Geico’s towing service, but then you’d have to find your car insurance, and good luck with that.

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One Response to “21 Simple Steps to Starting Your Car (or my car)”

  1. World's Most Dangerous Teacher Says:

    Replacing a car battery is the one car thing I can do. Instead of using a friend’s car to jump mine, I usually just take the friend’s battery and put it in my car.

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