While driving around DC yesterday on one of the hottest days of the summer, my check engine light suddenly came on. This, of course, made me flip out into a panicked frenzy, because there is nothing more inestimable than the variety of issues than the implications of a check engine light. After a few minutes of me panicking, imagining hilariously impossible scenarios, such as my car exploding when I next stepped on the gas pedal. (Totally logical, I know!) After 30 seconds of these ridiculous fantastical situations hijacking my imagination, I finally noted that my car hadn’t just shut off and ditched me on the side of the road, and began to think of realistic reasons as to why my car was proclaiming car illness.

  • Juno, as I like to call my 2008 VW Rabbit, is 5 years old and has been my Old Faithful through 4 high-traffic areas with severely varied weather conditions. While maintenance has always been thorough and constant, it’s bound to be at the point in Juno’s life where regular tune-ups are not necessarily going to be enough.
  • It was one of the hottest days of the year, and the freon levels were low. I’ve known this since last year, but I’m not a huge A/C fan, so I’ve never bothered to get that fixed up. Maybe shooting up the A/C now was not the best idea I’ve ever had.
  • The last time I put in gas, I was in a bit of a hurry, so maybe I just didn’t properly tighten the gas cap.

Anyone who owns a modern VW knows that, of everything on this list, the only thing I could really do anything about is the gas cap, so I got out of my car as soon as possible and tightened it. If anything was actually wrong with the engine, which is encased in a shell of sorts, all I could do was wait for the appointment I made for the next day to take Juno into the dealer and pray for it to be nothing serious.

The next day, I went in and talked to the lovely people at the dealer, talking to them about how I had just recently replaced the battery, brakes, and tires, and begged and pleaded for there to be nothing wrong. Unfortunately, after a couple hours of diagnostics, I got a phone call letting me know that Juno’s cooling fans were near shot, and that I had been pretty lucky to not have been left on the side of the road on one of the hottest days of the year in city traffic. Damn, my car is a great car.

My parents think I should trade Juno in for a newer VW. I’m sorely tempted to do this, considering how the last 2 visits to the dealer have been me hemorrhaging money to get her fixed up, whereas she used to only cost me a couple hundred per tune-up. Considering she’s under 60,000 miles, I think I could probably get a pretty good trade-in deal for her, too. I guess it would just be a question of looking around. I’ll say this, though: Juno is going to be one tough act to follow.