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It’s Time to Learn About that Thing You Drive Around

Let me paint you a picture.

You’re driving with two other friends in a car that doesn’t belong to you. It’s a cloudy day, just starting to drizzle, and you’re heading to the big city from the rural sea of corn you call home for a fun night out with these two friends. The drive is about an hour long and it starts off great, with good music and good conversation.

Then, halfway through the trip, you start to hear a strange noise coming from the underbelly of your friend’s car. It’s a strange combination between a grinding and a rhythmic popping sound, so you stop and check it out. Of course, you’d be able to tell if it was a flat tire or something was hanging off the undercarriage that shouldn’t be, but your knowledge of cars extends only so far. You and your friends find nothing wrong with it. You call family members, asking for advice. You look at the engine, though you know there’s nothing there that will make sense to you. But the car was still driving okay, and you were in the middle of nowhere, and it was starting to drizzle a little harder. You and your friends decide after a while your best bet is to continue on toward civilization, despite the ominous noise.

It keeps going as you drive on, biting your nails. The noise even gets marginally worse as you get closer to the city, but nothing happens. At last, you make it to the parking lot in the city, and you and your friends all breathe a deep sigh of relief. You’re off the roads, and though the noise was as worse as it ever had been, you made it. Now you could have a fun evening and deal with the car later. You’re all laughing together as you pull into a parking spot when BAM.

The car jumps with a loud, startling noise, and stops. After a moment of silence, you and your friends jump out of the car and see what happened—one of the wheels (not the tire, the entire wheel) had fallen off. Thus begins the flurry of phone calls, anxiety, and counting your lucky stars because this happened in a parking lot and not on the highway, going seventy miles an hour.

This, more or less, is exactly what happened to my friends and me last week on our way to a concert in Columbus.

I’ll be honest, it was an incredibly scary experience. Looking back on it now, it’s a funny story because nobody got hurt, but we were beyond lucky. That wheel could have decided to dislodge itself in the middle of an intersection or as we were changing lanes on the highway, and we very well could have been unable to walk away from the accident. But we did walk away, so instead we have to take something away from it.

The wheel coming off on its own accord might not have happened had at least one of us known a little more about the vehicle in which we were driving. These days, it’s really easy to take technology for granted. Our computers and phones and cars serve us daily, and while we might know the basics for taking care of them, generally the more in depth knowledge is saved for specialists or professionals or people with a passion for tinkering. But when you put your life behind the wheel of a car, it’s vital to be absolutely sure you’re safe. Basically, if your car starts making a mysterious and disconcerting noise, it’s important to understand what it is and do something about it promptly before the situation can get worse or even fatal.

So if you own a car or spend a lot of time in cars, take some time to get to know the machine. It might not seem like a fun way to spend your time, but’s better to be prepared for the future than stranded in a gas station in the middle of nowhere in the rain. I know after all of this, I’m might even pick up a copy of Auto Repairs for Dummies, and I don’t even own a car! At this point I’d just feel more comfortable being informed. But my parting wisdom to you: learn from my mistakes and you’ll thank me for it someday.

Safe and happy driving!

Image Credit: The Odyssey Online, Megan Althouse, Giphy

Annie is a sophomore at Kenyon College where she is majoring in English/Creative Writing and minoring in Anthropology. She is in a committed relationship with her Netflix account and is determined to pet at least one dog every day. She loves cult TV shows, the great outdoors, and peanut butter.
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