Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Four wheeled slavery

$748! That's what my car inspection cost me today. Rear brakes. Rotors. Calipers. Oh, joy. Two weeks ago I took the car for an estimate on repairing the damage cause when my daughter hit a mailbox. That was going to be $650. I asked if the passenger-side rear-view mirror was going to be necessary to pass inspection and he said "no" so I felt comfortable putting that off. Well, when the inspection actually came it turns out that it is, indeed, necessary to pass inspection. So now, for $112, I have a white rear-view mirror on my green car.

But, wait. It's not over yet. I received a letter from Honda saying there was a known issue with their emissions systems that have been causing vehicles to fail to pass inspections. Well, that's exactly what's been going on with my car, except not. I have had issues with the "Check Engine" light almost continuously since I got the car. The mechanics would find nothing wrong and reset the computer but eventually the light would come back. Unfortunately, the letter said they would only extend the warranty for those vehicles under 150,000 miles and, the day I received the letter, my car was at 151,400 miles. Besides, the error code my computer is passing out is for the transmission and wouldn't be covered by the extended warranty anyway.

And lastly, at least for this round, the computer is refusing to pass the so-called "Driveability" test. The computer won't properly reset even after driving all over creation and, thus, the car won't pass inspection, so I will need to spend even more time on top of the 7 hours I spent at the shop today. I had this problem last year as well, but the mechanics couldn't find anything wrong and wouldn't even say that it was a bad sensor or a faulty computer module. The answer that "they're sometimes like that" does not fill me with confidence.

In the 1950s, America was sold on the idea that the automobile was our ticket to freedom. With a car we could travel anywhere. We could work in the city but live in the suburbs. We could vacation across the state or across the country. Ribbons of asphalt would whisk us to our destinations giving us more free time. The automobile was part and parcel of The American Dream.

It was all a sham. The automobile is the tool of our enslavement. Not only do those highways connect us to these distant places, they also separate us from those things we need. And, without the car, we are trapped on our own suburban blocks. Without our cars we can't get to work. We can't shop for food. And when the cars break, we must do whatever it takes, bankrupting ourselves to get back on the road. We have become slaves to the automobile.

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