Big Red Buddy

“Maybe you can drive my car and not your Big Red Buddy,” said Good Man about picking him up at the airport.

“I haven’t driven my truck since you left,” I replied.


Last year my truck needed a new bumper to pass inspection. A year or so before that, my dash just died. (Going zero miles per hour while flying down the street, that was interesting.) A year before that, the front of my truck was sagging and I needed new something-or-others. When I first moved here, I needed new tires (it’s really amazing I didn’t kill myself driving here from Minnesota) and a bunch of other stuff.

I’ve had my truck for a long time. It was a gift from my mom when I graduated from college back in 2002. My mom was still paying it off then, so I finished paying it off. I didn’t even know how to drive stick, and I was on a time crunch to learn, since I started grad school a month after graduating from college.

It’s a ’99 Ford Ranger with no AC, no CD player, and not even a tape deck. It has an antenna. They don’t even build antennas on most cars any longer. It fishtails on snow unless I put an extra 40 lbs of weight over each back tire. It has no AC. I live in Virginia. With no AC.

I love my little truck, but I think I’m ready for a new (used) car. A car with AC. And a CD player or hookup for my iPod or something similar. However, neither Good Man nor I want to take out a loan for a new (used) car, and I want a fairly new (used) car, rather than spending $2000 on another old car.

Before I took my truck to inspection this year, I talked with Good Man. We decided if my truck needed over $500 in repairs, we’d seriously consider getting a new car for me, even if it meant taking out a loan.

Before inspection I took my truck in for an oil change, a new air filter, and some new wipers. That was under $100, and all maintenance, so it didn’t really count.

Then I got to inspection. In Virginia you need to inspect yearly to stay legal, and in Northern Virginia you need to pass emissions every other year.

“Your breaks are squeaky, but the pads are good, so they pass. You just need new side headlight and that’s it.”

I looked at the man. “Really?”

“Yeah, and I can do brake lube if you want, but for inspection, you just need new headlight.”

“How much is a lube job, headlight, and inspection?”

“Ninety-one dollars.”

I nodded, “But my car keeps rattling when I go over bumps. It sounds like something is going to falling off.”

The inspector looked at me with a sideways glance. “It’s an old car! Old cars are like old people. They rattle.”

I guess my Big Red Buddy is sticking with me for another year.

It’s a Ford. It’s never going to die.

One thought on “Big Red Buddy

  1. Comment from: david [Visitor]
    coming from a gm guy, i thought ford stands for fix or repair daily. :) sorry i couldn’t resist.
    07/07/11 @ 13:35

    Comment from: admin [Member]
    Ha. David, my landlord came over to fix something at the house. He got in my truck and listened to it for 200 feet or so. Got out, crawled underneath, and found out my rear leaf spring (whatever that is) is falling off.

    Uh huh. So much for creaking.
    07/07/11 @ 13:56

    Comment from: david [Visitor]
    leaf spring is like a shock. it is a long flat bar usually in the back of a truck. what usually goes out are bushings on each end of the leaf spring. loose leaf spring usually makes your truck noisy, especially when you travel on uneven road. hope that helps.
    07/07/11 @ 19:44

    Comment from: admin [Member]
    Yeah, he showed it to me. My question is: if I take a while to replace it, is it likely to fall off? The truck has been rattling for a good 8 months or so, but I don’t drive much.

    (And I did bring it to a mechanic when it started rattling who couldn’t find the problem. Considering my landlord could find it in about three minutes, that mechanic is now on my list of places not to go.)
    07/07/11 @ 19:54

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