Christopher tm Herdt (cherdt) wrote,
Christopher tm Herdt

1991 Buick Deathtrap

When I came home from work yesterday, my 1991 Buick Deathtrap was gone. Perhaps with the proceeds of the car donation, WDET can buy each of their DJs a gumball.

The night before I went out to the parking lot to take the remaining change from the coin holder and to take off the license plate. I decided to start the car up and sit in it for a minute listening to the radio. Some blues song was playing. Man, there's a lot of room in that car. I can really stretch my legs and get comfortable in a car like that. I let it run for 3 or 4 minutes, and then I, out of instinct, hit the brakes as I went to turn the ignition key to the off position.

The car stalled.

A car should not stall when you hit the brake pedal. And so after 5 years and 6 months, I said goodbye and good-riddance. Steve C.'s advice, as relayed by flastron, is that if a car ever leaves you stranded, even once, you should get rid of it. If I had followed that advice, I would have had it less than a year.

How many times was I stranded? How many times did flastron, chassy, and beninem come to my rescue?

For a long time, a couple years maybe, it had a weird problem with the brake lights. When the engine was hot, the brake lights would come on even when the car was turned off, and drain the battery. After a while I got used to disconnecting the battery every time I parked. That's probably how I stripped the terminal bolts. I had an adjustable crescent wrench next to the driver's seat. My mechanic said he had no idea what the problem was. flastron suggested I try a new switch, since it was only a $5 part. Craig L. installed it for me, and indeed, the problem was fixed. A $5 part.

Craig also ran the VIN through some Web site and found out that my engine (the used engine from a Pontiac Grand Am that I had to install after the original engine went kaput 93 days into a 90-day warranty) was manufactured in Lansing. The Iron Duke, he said, was its nickname. Made me kind of proud, at the time, to drive a car that was, more or less, from my home town. (You know what, Lansing? Go screw.)

While it was still insured against theft, I used to leave it unlocked when I went to shows down at the Majestic/Magic Stick. Actually, after the power locks stopped working, I never really locked it. No one ever treid to steal it. No one even bothered to steal the quarters from the coin holder. Even the car thieves, the same ones that were glad to take Jim Y.'s mid-80s Pontiac 6000 off his hands, knew to avoid the Buick Deathtrap.

The driver's window no longer rolled up or down and was stuck about an inch open, permanently. The rear-view mirror fell off. The emergency brake release level fell off. It overheated all the time, and I don't even want to think about the number of tires, mufflers, and brake jobs it went through. Head gaskets? 3 or 4 I think. And who has to replace an engine at 60,000 miles?

Bethany helped me change the plugs and wires on the car for my first tune-up. flastron taught me how to change my oil after Uncle Ed's screwed up and left my coolant completely empty after an oil change. chassy helped me use electrical tape and duct tape temporarily repair a split hose. Eventually I gained a little confidence (and bought a repair manual and a toolkit), and changed my alternator, the thermostat, the stripped battery terminals, and some other part--ECT sensor, maybe?

Chalk it up to experience.

I never covered it in funny bumper stickers like we did to the 87 Jetta. I never bought a tape deck for it, and I never bought a nice Thule or Yakima bike rack, because I always sensed that this car was on its last legs and that I should get rid of it. We talked about turning it into an art car, but again--what if I wanted to sell it? If I'd only known that it wouldn't even fetch the $400 I'd asked in the ads.
Tags: buick, cars

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