Commuter Corner: Don’t forget the oil

 Car trouble can be serious. (Armando G Alonso/Flickr Creative Commons)

Car trouble can be serious. (Armando G Alonso/Flickr Creative Commons)

Few people are lucky enough to survive in this world without common sense, and you are currently reading an article written by one of them.

I can’t cook all that well ‒ food has actually ended up in flames in the past. In the past year I’ve mastered the art of doing laundry, but I still manage to pour the detergent in the wrong spots every now and then. And I have absolutely no idea what to do when my car starts making a weird sound.

It’s been drilled into me since I started driving that I go to my dad when my car starts acting up instead of the mechanic. There are some fixes that are beyond his skill set, but YouTube can teach him pretty much anything. I pay for the parts, and he spends his free time fixing it. This only works when I tell him about the problem, though. Usually, he doesn’t find out about it until he happens to borrow my car and hears the noise for himself.

In this particular instance, I did tell my dad there was a problem. This came after my brother noted how loud it was getting, but I still made the effort to let my dad know. Nothing was done until I started complaining about how it wouldn’t accelerate.

Apparently, the noises the engine made coupled with it not really moving made my dad worried. Before doing any work under the hood he asked about the last time I put oil in.

I bought this car a little over a year ago; if my dad hadn’t put oil in the car since then, then nobody had. I didn’t really know that it was something you had to do, and I probably won’t remember the next time it needs it. But basically, my car had been running low on oil for a while.

After buying a gallon of oil and watching him put over half of it in my car, he explained why my car was so loud. With old cars, instead of the engine just blowing up when oil levels get too low, it slowly starts to croak. It’s like a human being without food: instead of just dropping dead after missing a few meals, we slowly fade away and lose energy. My car was taking its time dying.

That said, the turnaround when it finally had oil in it was amazing. It didn’t struggle up the hills and I fully realized how loud it had gotten by the sound of its silence. How can one small mistake cause so much grief for my car?

If you take anything away from this, don’t forget the oil.


Hannah Desrosiers is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hannah.desrosiers@uconn.edu.