Thursday, October 20, 2005

100,000 Miles

My Ford Focus turned 100,000 miles today. It sits in my parking lot at the moment with a grand 100,009 miles on it.

I know it's not that big of a milestone for some folks, but this is huge for me. My Focus is the first car I'd ever purchased brand spankin' new. I actually set out to take relatively good care of it, doing oil changes every five- or six-thousand miles (or so... you know how it is).

Certainly beats the 30,000 miles I let my old Tempo go without an oil change.

Did you know that changing the oil is absolutely essential to maintaing a car's engine? I did not know that!

I discovered that not changing the oil is a bad thing with that car. My father-in-law pulled the valve cover one afternoon (it was making strange clack-clack-clack noises and I didn't know why), only to discover I didn't have oil in my engine, so much as I had a thick tar that really didn't do much to lubricate anything. Needless to say, I learned a lot with that car.

I also learned a lot from my 1989 Ford Taurus that burnt to the tires in front of my daughter's elementary school back in 1996.

Did you know that power steering fluid is flammable? I did not know that!

My x-wife (we were still married at the time) comes home one afternoon, telling me the steering wheel was awfully hard to turn, and there was a lot of smoke coming from the engine. Hmmmm. I checked the power steering fluid, and sure enough it was low. So, naturally, I filled it up, which of course just added fuel to the fire when I went to pick up my daughters at school later.

I rolled up across the street from the school and parked. I noticed a small waft of smoke coming from my windshield defroster vent - INSIDE the car, so I got out, and noticed a small waft of smoke coming from under the engine hood. Silly me, I wanted to see what was going on, so I opened the hood.

Did you know that, if you have an engine fire, the LAST thing you want to do is open the hood? I did not know that!

So I opened the hood, and the small waft of smoke make a gigantic "whooooosh" sound, and became an inferno in about, oh... 5 seconds. To the amazement of parents and kids alike, my car burned down to the tires, passenger compartment and all, in the space of about 10 minutes. The fire department got there and put out the fire, leaving my now thoroughly baked car a blackened hulk of smoldering, twisted metal. It was really cool the way the tires exploded (all four of them), sounding like shotgun rounds. The fireman said I was really lucky that I'd just filled my gas tank before picking up the kids, because a full gas tank is less likely to EXPLODE than a less-than-full tank, because it's the fumes that explode, not the liquid.

I did not know that!

The kicker to the burning Taurus story is, I was in the process of taking out a new insurance policy with a different company, and the day the Taurus burned was THE last day it was covered under the current insurance policy. How's THAT for timing? I was amazed that the insurance company didn't bat an eye, just paid up. I think it was All-State. Good hands, ya know?

So, anyway, I'm proud of my little Focus. It's been a really good car. The only major thing I've had done is had the clutch replaced, and that goes out with normal wear and tear on most manual transmissions. Oh, and the starter had to replaced back at 36k miles. Other than that, it's been a sweet little ride that gets almost 27mpg around town!

I was thinking about trading it in for a mini-van back before Katrina hit, but I think I'll belay that. 27mpg in town, and about 38mpg on the highway is nothing to sneeze at now!

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