My dad taught me and all the kids how to drive. He started us out gently by putting us behind the wheel of an older car and letting us drive it around the long dirt driveway of our summer cottage and across the grass field so we got used to the acceleration and braking without any risk of wrecking into anything.
Then he let us drive on the straight pavement to get our bearings on where the wheels were on the pavement and how the steering handled differently on pavement. After that we learned about parking, and then it was short trips in real traffic. The hard part was traffic because I knew what I was doing and the challenge was looking out for the other drivers and being prepared to react when they did something stupid.
By now I’m sure everyone has seen the TV ads for certain rental car companies that feature very cheap daily rental rates. I was interested in renting a car for a couple of days to take a weekend getaway, so I called the rental car company to book a car. Well, turns out they don’t have any cars available to rent for that weekend. So I asked about the following weekend and they said they were all booked for that weekend, too.
That seemed a little weird to me, but it turns out that because we had a big hail storm recently a lot of cars were damaged by the hail and are in the body shops for repairs. Because it was a big storm, all the body shops are backed up, so people are using up all the rental car inventory until their cars are fixed.
Of course, my car has tags that need to be renewed next month. And to get them renewed I have to take my car to a government inspection station. The check the car for emissions compliance and and charge $10 for the hour long ordeal. The actual inspection itself only takes about 5 minutes. But since there are only a few official inspection stations here, that means getting into a very long lone and waiting your turn to pull into the big bay door and actually having the inspection performed.
One thing I learned last year, the hard way, is that if you have the Check Engine light on, your car will not pass the inspection and you cannot get your tags renewed. There are no exceptions to this on late model cars. You either fix the problem so the Check Engine light goes out, or you cannot drive the car until you get it fixed. Period.
That fun little requirement to get the Check Engine light fixed cost me $800 last year to replace a sensor. This is ridiculously expensive for a little piece of metal with a computer chip in it. My laptop doesn’t even cost $800!
So, of course, the Check Engine light has come on again and I already know that I can’t get it through the emissions inspection until I get the car fixed. I don’t have $800 laying around to get another sensor replaced. FML.