How To Make the Most Out of Three Trips to AutoZone in One Afternoon

Last November, my check engine light came on. After waiting a few weeks, hoping it would just turn off itself, I took my beloved 2002 Prism into Goodyear. $250 later, everything was “fixed.” Less than two weeks later, the light came back on. The conspiracy theorist in me surfaced and I started to believe that the whole notion of the the check engine light is just garbage. Yet another way for the industry to get the ignorant (like me) to pay out.

So I ignored it.

Six months later, the check engine light is still on as I pull out of the parking lot at the gym and hear the sounds of metal dragging. Upon inspection, I find my exhaust pipe fallen and dragging on the pavement. The bolt fastening the metal band around the pipe has fallen out. I call Diene to come pick me up and leave the car overnight.

The next day I go to Auto Zone, explain my problem to a very nice associate named David Lee and he sends me off with a bolt, nut, and two washers. I drive (Diene’s car) to the gym, discover the bolt is too wide, and return to Auto Zone where David hooks me up with two smaller bolts. I drive back to the gym, discover the bolts are the right width but too short, and return to Auto Zone where David gives me a longer bolt and lends me some wrenches. In the gym parking lot, I crawl under the car, pull the metal belt around the exhaust pipe, fasten the bolt and feel totally satisfied with myself. Third time’s the charm. I get in my car to start it up only to find the battery is dead. I try to jump the battery and it doesn’t work. I check the oil and realize I’m a bit short.

Back to Auto Zone. I return the wrenches to David, buy two quarts of Mobile One and drive back to the parking lot. I pour in the oil and then try a second jump. No luck although the clicking of the dead battery is speeding up. By now, I have been going back and forth between the parking lot and Auto Zone for more than two hours and its time to pick up Diene from work.

A few hours later, we return to the parking lot and try to jump my battery again. It works! Third time’s the charm. But wait…the best part….

My check engine light has turned off!

Today, I am grateful for the confirmation that the check engine light is garbage. And a reminder that there is something good to be found in every crappy situation. And for being a two-car family (in spite of the excess fuel consumption).

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