Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Jersey Almost Ate My Car

My Jeep is old, but it's a good car. It does, however, need some minor repairs. For instance, when I go over the dip at the end of my driveway, the back end creaks and groans like it's losing structural integrity: RRRrrrrreeeek.....THUNK!....rwapbapbapbap.

Potholes are even worse.

The source of the noise is actually the clamp that holds the tailpipe in place. It rusted through two months ago. I've ignored it, because I don't drive very far on a daily basis. Besides, it probably needs a new muffler and tailpipe anyway.

Then I found out I had to go to New Jersey for a meeting. Like, immediately.

I figured it couldn't be that bad, I'll take it slow and try not to hit potholes. Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahhahahahaah!!

I haven't driven in Jersey for a while, so I forgot just how bad it really is.

I-78 in Pennsylvania was nice and smooth. Which is saying a lot for PA, because our roads generally suck. Once I crossed into NJ, it was a whole other ballgame. First off, you cannot drive slow and just do the speed limit - you'll be run over by a fleet of tractor trailers. On the other hand, you can't speed too far over the limit because the state police are everywhere.

You're forced to keep up with the pack. This puts you somewhere between 70 and 80 miles per hour, depending if you're just cruising along, attempting to dodge that 18 wheeler, or some jackass in a Mercedes S600 cuts you off with only inches to spare: “Dude. Your $150,000 car looks like a shiny Ford Taurus. Is it really a status car at that point?”.

So. Car rattling apart. The problem wasn't even actual potholes, it was the texture and seams in road. There were uneven, cracked off sections that appeared to have been paved over so many times that the pavement resembled crumb cake. Other sections had deep, grotty seams every 10 feet so the tires make a Thwap! Thwap! Thwap! noise.

I'm trucking along, and my car is making some serious rattling, moaning and shaking. Not to mention the Thwap!-ing. I also notice along the side of the road (and sometimes IN the road), there are car parts. LOTS of car parts. A muffler here, a few tire treads there, a wheel, some twisted metal bits, and an entire front hood. Like, how does that happen? Even if it was an accident, don't they usually clean up the big pieces? How does one miss a 4 x 6 piece of sheet metal? Or do car hoods fly off regularly in Jersey, possibly due to corrosion from all the toxic waste fumes?

I figured if I lost a tailpipe or muffler here, it probably wouldn't even be noticed. So there I go, merrily down the Jersey Autobahn, with my tailpipe waving in the wind.

I got to my destination and home again, in one piece. Which is good, because it looks like I'll be making this commute on a regular basis from now on.

So yeah. I'm getting the Jeep fixed. Soon.