An Unexpected Ending

The other day, I was headed out to Pasadena to see Sarah, Gregorio and baby Luna. Ray was already there so I was driving our old but trusty Jaguar, vintage 2003. I love this car. We bought it secondhand in 2006, and besides having low mileage, we were even able to talk to the mechanic who had serviced it for the original owner. The mechanic’s description went something like this: “It’s cherry. I’d buy it without a second thought.” What better endorsement is that?

And the mechanic’s analysis was right. We have had no problem with this car except to replace the starter a few years back. A real champ of a car, by all counts, since if has seats that feel as if you’re on a comfy sofa and suspension that gives you the sensation of floating through the air. Not to mention it’s the last year of the classic Jaguar body shape, which is so sleek that it holds the number one slot so far as my favorite car style.

So, there I was floating along in my sweet, but old car, listening to NPR’s “All Things Considered” when I noticed something unusual – the water gauge was starting to move towards hot. Unfortunately, I was going down Coldwater Canyon and there was no turning off. I had to hope that the engine wouldn’t overheat right there and stall traffic for miles since this was right at 5 pm. The gist is that I got to Ventura Boulevard in Studio City when the gauge hit the red area that signifies the danger zone. As luck would have it, there was a Firestone garage right on the corner and I turned into their parking lot just before the engine died.

I called Ray who said he’d been right over. While I waited, the Firestone people were very nice. One of the mechanics came over and gave the car a cursory look-see and told me that we needed a new water pump. Ray arrived and after some debate, we decided to leave the car overnight and perhaps let them work on it the next day. He wanted to go home and do a little research before committing. The following morning, I headed back over to the Firestone store to meet the AAA driver who was going to tow the car to our house. Ray had decided he could order a water pump, put it on himself and save much of what he predicted would be around $1000 before they were finished.

Alas, after the car arrived, he went out and lifted up the hood. He called to me, “Did anybody pull off one of these hoses when they were looking at the engine?”

My response: “The mechanic didn’t touch anything. The engine was too hot. He just looked at it.”

The gist: our car repair was exactly 89 cents, the cost of buying a clamp for the hose that had somehow become disconnected.

Do I need to say more? What a smart husband I have. I am delighted that we didn’t have to shell out an unexpected $1000 bucks right now. I am also pleased that this unlikeliest of “trusty” vehicles continues to earn its keep as one of our reliable cars.

So, if you ever have someone tell you to never buy a Jaguar, they’re too unpredictable, then just turn a deaf ear. Sometimes you can find just the right one to bring a little joy to your life without the hefty price tag. The key is to not buy new and to find one with low mileage. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to talk to the mechanic who has been taking good care of it.

I suppose it also helps to have a husband who knows to actually look at the engine and notice when there’s a disconnected hose…

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10 thoughts on “An Unexpected Ending”

  1. My sister also bought a second hand Jaguar, from the mother of the mechanic who’d been repairing my sister’s other vehicle. She loves it! But she also dreads the time when a repair part needs to be ordered because it’s imported and expensive. I hope if she does need her car repaired it’ll be as simple a repair as yours was.

  2. The sad thing is that as a single older woman who know bupkis about the mechanics of a car, I might have paid the $1,000 … But I would or might have become suspicious about the mechanic not looking under the hood.

      1. I took an anto mechanics course through our local community college. It was “real” auto mechanics, not the “powder puff” kind that just introduces you to what your car looks like under the hood. That was several years back when I could still identify what was under the hood. Nowadays I can’t see anything that looks like an engine much less repair it. But I’m still not too easy to put anything over on. It might be worth looking into if you want to feel less put upon by the dishonest, even if it is the powder puff kind.

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