In the driveway, I spent fifteen sweaty, frustrating minutes trying to loosen the lug nuts with a lug wrench. But apparently, the high-school dropout who put the wheel on last tightened them so tightly, I couldn’t turn them at all. Conceding defeat, I called the roadside assistance program of my car insurance company.
A locksmith pulled up in a small van about 40 minutes later, not the tow-truck I was expecting. Even more unexpectedly, a young woman named Lisa got out of the van. In 5 minutes, with a few mighty grunts, she had loosened all of the lug nuts using nothing more than a lug wrench, making me feel like a total wimp. I wonder if her boyfriend behaves himself.
She quickly swapped the flat tire for the doughnut spare, which had lost some air over the years, and looked kind of flat. “Let me pump that up for you,” she said, removing a portable electric pump from the van. It’s the kind of pump that runs off the cigarette lighter in the car. But for some reason, the pump wouldn’t run. She fiddled with it for a little while, but no luck.
“Well, it’s not that low,” she observed. “Why don’t you just drive it slowly to the gas station and inflate it there?” And she left.
I got into the car, started the engine, and then noticed that I couldn’t shift out of Park. The shift lever wouldn’t budge. It’s supposed to do that until you step on the brake, but I was mashing that brake pedal to the floor. I gave it a hard yank, and with a loud “SNAP” it dropped into gear.
During that short drive, I noticed the following things:
- The radio didn’t work.
- The speedometer didn’t work.
- Neither did the odometer. Strangely, the tachometer works.
- The “PRND21” display showing the shift selection didn’t work.
- The automatic transmission didn’t work. I can shift manually, but when the car is in “D,” it’s in 3rd gear and won’t change to a lower gear automatically.
I called the company that sent Lisa to my house and explained the problem, which I suspect had something to do with the pump. The manager was very cordial, but had no intention of accepting responsibility for my car problems. “That would be the technician’s responsibility,” he declared.
I think I’ll call my car insurance company to see if they’ll accept any responsibility for this. Because I don’t want to mess with Lisa.