January 31, 2003 ~ How to Drive a Pokey
In honor of Pokey's vacuum hose falling off four more times in the last week (two times when I was driving, so I lost use of the brakes again, luckily not in so tense a situation), I decided to dedicate this entry to Pokey, who, I now firmly believe, is trying her very best to kill me. (Thankfully, though, we do think we've fixed the vacuum hose problem for good now with a few new clamps).
How to Drive a Pokey
1. Before you get in the car, check the tires, pop the hood, and make sure the vacuum hose is still attached properly.
2. Should you need to put anything in the trunk, closing it is tricky. While it is still as open as it can be, place your hand directly over the latch and bring your palm down with as much force as you can muster. Most likely, the trunk will spring back open. Sometimes, though, it will actually slam shut. Consider yourself lucky.
3. When you're ready to get in, open the door, but continue holding it open as you get in. The doors are heavy, and sometimes slam shut of their own volition. You don't want to lose a leg, trust me. Sometimes, however, the door gets stuck open. If this is the case, pull really hard until you hear a loud crack (which sounds not unlike a gunshot) and the door comes flying back and slams shut. (Beware, though, once when we did this, the passenger side mirror fell off and shattered on the pavement. It is still missing to this day.)
4. Buckle in. There's a good chance you'll need it.
5. Before you turn the key, pump the gas twice. The first time, pump it to the floor, the second time give it a half pump and hold it there as you turn the key in the ignition.
6. Since Pokey never starts on the first try (or the second, or the third, or the tenth if it's cold), continue this maneuver until the engine roars to life. Whatever you do, do not take your foot off of the gas...
7. ... until she stalls, of course. Then take your foot off the gas, wait a few seconds, and start over.
8. When you finally have the engine at a nice idle (though still feeding it a little gas), if it's winter, turn on the defrost and cross your fingers that this doesn't stall Pokey again. Don't expect it to be warm air for at least ten minutes, however. Invest in a good pair of warm driving gloves. Do not use the heat. It doesn't work well. (Neither, for that matter, does the "air conditioning." It doesn't work at all. If you're hot, roll down the windows... Though the driver's side window does not have a knob, so rolling down the window is difficult, and rolling it back up is damn near impossible, since it sticks. You have been warned.)
9. Give Pokey at least five minutes to warm up, or she will stall as soon as you take her out of park.
10. When you're ready to go, turn on your headlights, place your foot on the brake, release the parking brake (the parking brake is almost always engaged since Pokey frequently rolls back on the gear and gets stuck in park if she's on the slightest incline), and shift into drive. Avoid reverse if at all possible, because she usually stalls.
11. If Pokey will not shift out of park, you are going to need to have someone rear-end you to roll her off of the gear. If the gear shifter pops out of place in your effort to shift her out of park, you are going to have to crawl under the dash with a pair of pliers and pry it back into place. (See this entry for details.) Several of our friends have had the honor of rear-ending us out of park on numerous occasions).
12. If you are coasting or stopped at a light, it's best to shift into neutral, because, for the first few minutes of your drive, Pokey will try to stall whenever you take your foot off of the gas. She is least likely to stall in neutral.
13. Please use your turn signal. People who don't drive me batty. However, the left turn signal does not hold itself in place, so you have to hold it down while you wait to turn, and it's mostly smashed in on the front of the car anyway, because of the accident.
14. If you have people in your backseat, Pokey will be riding very low, so take turns and pull-outs slow or else you will scrape the muffler on the pavement. The muffler is new, we had to replace it when it fell off as we were driving a while back, so we would really like to keep this one for a while.
15. Do not be alarmed when you can't seem to go above 30 miles an hour on an incline. Even if it's on the interstate. Especially if there is a headwind. No amount of pushing the gas to the floor will change this state of affairs, so you may as well wait her out. Always remember, the car is named Pokey, and she earned that name for a reason.
16. With #14 in mind, be careful before you try to pass someone. If there is a hill coming up, forget about it. If you are on a downhill stretch, go for it.
17. Don't trust what the speedometer tells you above 55 miles an hour. Often, it will start waving back and forth between 45 and 85 at this point. It's somewhat broken, obviously. (You can safely bet, however, that if you are in Pokey you are not going 85 miles an hour).
18. Yes, the left headlight points way to the right. Deal with it.
Noises to Watch out for:
19. The intermittent loud, jarring, grinding noise is the speedometer. Ignore it as best as you can.
20. The annoying rattling noise that starts up behind the dash on the passenger's side can be stopped if you have someone in the passenger seat who can hold their foot firmly against the dash for a good two minutes. It should stop after that.
21. The annoying rattle up on the hood on the passenger's side is probably the silver trim falling off again. Nothing you can do about that unless you stop and put the trim back on again. Going faster makes it worse.
22. Various extremely high-pitched whistles. Just the wind. Ignore it as best you can.
23. A very loud high-pitched shrieking whistle coming from the engine. The vacuum hose has fallen off and you will stall and loose your brakes in a few seconds. Slow down as much as you can before the brakes go and pull over, if possible. Put on your flashers. Pop the hood and try to re-attach the vacumm hose.
24. A loud clicking noise when you run the windshield wipers. Oh, not again. The wipers have broken. They could fall off and leave you blind any second. Beware.
25. Loud banging, scraping, and sparks flying out from behind the car. Very possibly the muffler has fallen off again, or perhaps another vital part. You should pull over and investigate.
26. A loud clunking noise when you make a sharp turn. We don't know what this is. Ignore it. It has happened ever since we got the steering rack replaced.
27. Intermittent electrical buzz. It's usually the speakers. Nothing you can do about it.
28. Loud groaning noise when you turn. You're probably out of power steering fluid. It used to leak badly before we fixed the leak... hopefully another hasn't developed.
Some Things to Remember:
29. Change oil frequently. Or else.
30. Keep in mind that the gas gauge is an approximation, and not entirely accurate. If it shows anything close to the "E" you should probably re-fuel.
31. The windshield leaks, drivers side. Have towels ready to sop up the mess on your knee.
32. Always have with you pliers, flashlight, extra clamps, wire, screwdriver, survival kit, spare tire (of course), toolkit, towels, and a magic wand. If you're not already wearing them, shoes that you can walk a long ways in and gloves and a warm coat in the winter. Preferably a cell phone, though I don't have one.
33. Pray. Frequently.
Arrival at Your Destination:
34. You cannot parallel park. Don't even try it.
35. Do NOT, whatever you do, park on an incline. You will get stuck in park, and you will regret it. Put on the parking brake before you shift to park, regardless.
36. Once you are parked, take care to turn off all electrical systems before turning off the ignition. (Headlights, radio, fan, defrost, etc.)