How Do You Know When You're in Love (With a Car)?
I've heard some guys say that if you park it and look back, then (yeah) you're in love. But I think we can chalk that up to infatuation more than anything else. That kind of behavior is almost to be expected, especially when you first buy the car. It's the "puppy-dog" stage of the relationship where everything is Mother's shine wax and premium octane and the notion of anything going wrong is still a very far off distant idea that warrants no serious contemplation. It lingers in the far reaches of the mind like some elusive foreshadowing in a John Steinbeck novel, ever present yet never surfaces.
But stick with it long enough (the car that is, not the novel), and it will. And like any relationship that matters, what you do when things start to get difficult is what will determine if you simply like driving your car on sunny weekends or if you're in it for the long haul, the seriously long haul.
Some people never "fall in love" with their cars. C'mon, that's ridiculous, right? They're just cars! You buy them, sell them, fix them, restore them, destroy them, track them, collect them, race them, rally them, show them, and generally enjoy them but you don't have to have a relationship with them. Especially not like this guy and his 1998 Chevy Monte Carlo. Okay, I get that - believe me I get that. But there are those of us, who feel a deeper connection with our cars, something like a kismet duplicity, either positive or negative that anchors us to that hunk of metal in the garage in a way that we can't fully explain. So here are a couple of insights to help you determine if you should change your Facebook status from single to "in a relationship (with my car)". These tips may also help you navigate your relationship with your significant other, but don't blame us when things go south after you took advice from a car blog.
1. You Named the Puppy
This may not hold a lot of weight for you if you are the type of person that names everything from their favorite coffee mug [Mr.Smilies] to the good stapler in the copy room [Staples McStapleson]. But if you have two kids named "John", then taking the time to name an inanimate object shows that you have a little more invested than just the air freshener on the dash. Oh, and if you refer to it as "she" or "he", that counts too. Give yourself 5 points if you have given your car a name.
2. It's Had You On Your Back (More Than Once)
Not counting that initial inspection when you dropped under it to make sure the floorboards were still there, if you have found yourself frequently underneath your vehicle wedged beneath a greasy oil sump and a cold cement floor wondering were that squeaking was coming from, then guess what? You started building a relationship with your car. Whether you completed the task or not, you took the time to find out about the car and what makes it tick and that made you go from "owner" to "caretaker". For that, give yourself 10 points.
3. You Don't Take It For Granted
I'll be honest, I have a 2003 Honda Civic that takes me 100 miles to and from work everyday, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. It requires very little maintenance, saves me a ton of money on gas and has never let me down. It is a workhorse, a rock, a constant in this ever changing precarious world. And yet, it sleeps outside, gets cheap gas and doesn't even merit the twelve dollar deluxe car wash. It reminds me of that homely girl that lived across the hall from me in college and brought me fresh baked cookies and listened to me rant on about the "hot chick" in my trigonometry class. God, what was her name? Anyway, my point is that when you love something or someone, you only want the best for them. You don't take them for granted and you understand that every moment you spend together is a gift. For cars, that translates to quality parts and service, routine maintenance, no "easy" or temporary fixes, and yes the twelve dollar deluxe car wash. Give yourself 15 points for this one.
4. You Made It Part Of The Family
It's in our nature to want to share the people and things we love with other important people in our lives. If we love them, how could they not? When you share the joy of car ownership with others in your family, you make a connection and bond that can be handed down from generation to generation. Whether it is the fond memories of weekend road trips to Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, hours spent with your old man in the shop learning to change an oil filter, or simply those special conversations that take place on the open road, when you make a car part of the family, you make it a part of your life. 8 points.
So how'd you do? Anything over 25, and you might have to come to the realization that your car means more to you than you thought. In the end, a car is just a car. What matters are the relationships we build, stories we trade and experience we share in them that make them a special part of our lives.