Women’s work: car maintenance

Last weekend I went away with the girls for a leisurely 2 days of relaxing, drinking wine, sleeping for over 8 hours a night, having naps and eating food that I had not had to cook. It was blissful. I was feeling liberated after flying solo for 2 days but on the drive home the oil light started to flash on the car dashboard. What does that mean? I discussed the implications of the light with my co-pilot Jo, and then rang the husband, he is a mechanic after all. And as he is so fond of saying to me (in your face Norm): “You don’t get a dog then bark yourself.”

His advice was simple: “If it is orange stop at the next garage and put oil in. If it is red pull over now and stop the car,” he said. It was orange.

At the next garage I bought a litre of engine oil (£14.99 – what? Probably the same price as the pick and mix) and then the fun started. Where the hell was the button that pops open the hood? This was already embarrassing. Not only did I not know how to check the oil after 18 years of driving I couldn’t even open the bonnet to start to get it wrong. We even asked a stranger who fortunately couldn’t find it either. Then Jo demonstrated a flash of genius. “Where is the manual?” she said. Oh yes. I’d had the car since December and had not yet looked at the manual which was in the glovebox.

The manual told us that the bonnet button was just behind the fuel button, which it was but tucked around the inside of the panel down by the accelerator. Not obvious. Obviously.

We popped it open.

Next stop – the dipper, which we couldn’t miss because it was bright orange. We pulled it out and looked for the minimum and maximum lines. There were none. We looked harder. There were two tiny holes and the oil hadn’t even come up to the first one so it was definitely low. Excellent. This was not rocket science. Now which tank was the oil tank? “It usually has an oil lamp on it,” said Jo who, with her powers of practical deduction, was fast becoming my hero. To my mind there were three different openings that could have been the oil tank so I consulted the manual again. It was the black one, which once I wiped it clearly had an oil lamp in it. Bingo.

I tried to twist it. Nothing. Jo tried to twist it. Nothing. We alternated a few times and then looked at each other in dismay as the bloody thing refused to shift. We were on the final lap (of a very short race), we didn’t need a mechanic husband or anyone else for that matter, we were two independent, educated women who could add oil to the bloody engine all by ourselves. Except we couldn’t. Shit.

A few people had noticed our struggle most notably a bearded gentleman in overalls. We waved. He sauntered over and after a few seconds of explanation he reached down and immediately turned the cap which turned as easily as a  child’s windmill in a strong breeze. “It has been over tightened,”  he said kindly. Then he smiled, nodded and sauntered away as we thanked him, our politeness disguising the resentment that we had needed to ask in the first place. Fifteen minutes later we were back on the road feeling empowered. The car needs a service in January. Perhaps Norm would like me to do it instead……

 

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2 comments

  1. Reminds me of the time we borrowed your dads automatic car and couldn’t start it. Who’d have thought you needed to press the brake pedal!!

    Like

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