Because it’s poring down rain out here, I can relax under whatever four wheel beast I have in for repairs. The rain cuts down on my sidewalk stop-ins, good or bad. Today it was a 1989 Ford Pickup with a core plug leaking coolant in a stream down the back of the block. I did a complete clutch job just seven months ago on this ungrateful piece of… sorry… anyway, I had to pull the transmission, clutch disc, pressure plate and flywheel back out again. The block plug had sprung a major leak behind the flywheel, and I didn’t need to have the customer ask me why I didn’t replace it while it was apart last time. That very question was winging its way through my brain as I wrestled the flywheel down, and saw the rotted out block plug. As I was contemplating the four hours labor time I would be eating, my motion detector chimed. A beat up old 1990 Buick limped into the shop with plumes of white smoke billowing out the tailpipe.
I hustled out from under the truck… well… it was as fast as I hustle anymore, and went out to meet and greet. A lady around my age (old) was sitting behind the wheel, and she gestured at the plumes of white smoke.
“What do you think that is?” She asked.
“Trouble,” I answered. “Do you smell that odd, kind of sweet smell?”
“Yea, is it oil? It’s been leaking a lot of oil.”
“No, it’s coolant. There’s coolant leaking into your car engine’s combustion chamber. The heat from combustion makes the steam,” I explain. “You can shut off the car. Have you overheated the car recently?”
She hesitated for a moment while switching off the engine, considering what information should be imparted to me.
“I blew the lower radiator hose on it a couple weeks back,” she admitted, “but everything’s been fine since it was replaced.”
“How hot did it get… on your gauge?” I asked, peering in to see if she had a gauge. She did. I also took a quick look at her odometer.
“It went all the way hot. It took me fifteen minutes to get somewhere I could stop. This is bad?”
“Real bad, I’m afraid.” Especially since the Buick needed a new interior, and about five grand in body work. “I noticed you have nearly a hundred and eighty thousand miles on it. I can’t fix it cheap, and anything other than cheap would be too much spent on this car.”
“Damn. I wish there was a cliff around here I could drive this thing off of,” She sighed, starting the Buick, complete with rear smoke screen.
“If there was, I’d follow you in the truck,” I said under my breath as she backed out.