Monday, January 3, 2011

The Car Tantrum

I turned the key and....


The car did nothing.


I may not know a lot about cars, but I do know that something is supposed to happen when you turn the key.

I chewed my lower lip as I gripped the wheel. The wind outside was ridiculous and the car rocked a bit as it brushed against the car.

It was cold out.

Really cold.

Like negative temperatures cold.

The only reason why I was even out was to drive to my friend Amanda’s house to celebrate New Years.

Only the car wouldn’t start.

I turned the key again and the dashboard went crazy. All the warning signals popped on.

“What does this mean?” I wailed dramatically. I hate when things don’t work properly.

“Is it broken?” Tommy asked from the backseat. “Maybe it’s the battery.”

Oh God. What if it was the battery? What if it died? But how? I didn’t leave anything on in the car. It couldn’t be dead. It just couldn’t. I had places to be, dammit, and my car was still relatively new.

I have a 2010 Honda Insight, a hybrid, and I expect good things from a hybrid. I expect hybrids to TURN ON when you want them to.

“I’d expect this sort of thing from an old car but you are still new so stop it,” I said. To the car. Even though it’s, you know, not alive.

I tried to turn it on again.


“Mommy? I’m cold,” Natalie complained. She had on a heavy coat, hat and mittens but it didn’t matter.

And I didn’t blame her.

It was cold out.

“Stupid car,” I grumbled and we all went back in the house. My friend Amanda just picked us up and we still managed to have a fun get together.

On Saturday I tried the car again. Maybe it was a fluke on Friday night.


…nope. Still nothing.

I smacked the wheel. “What is the matter with you?” I griped. “I don’t speak car, I can’t help!”

I rested my forehead on the wheel. My hair fell down around me. I was not in the mood for this. Everything seemed to be breaking around me ever since Tom left for Korea. It was like the world was testing me, seeing if I was strong enough to handle everything.

“I am strong enough,” I muttered. Great. I was talking to myself. A lot. And speaking to inanimate objects. This probably meant I needed psychological help.

I popped open the hood. I figured I’d have a look see. I got out of the car, bracing myself against the cold. It wasn’t as bad as Friday, but still pretty chilly.

I peered into the hood, stroking my chin as though I knew exactly what I was looking at.

So…that thing with the wires hanging from it…the engine right? Or the battery? Wait. What was that thing? And…oh, THERE was where I put the windshield wiper fluid.

What was I even looking for? Something that said, “I’m causing the problem? Help?”

“Everything looks okay,” I said, peering closer. It was like some bizarre maze in the hood of my car. One that I’d never, ever figure out.

I shut the hood.

“Well,” I said. “I guess I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Sunday rolled around.

I gripped the keys in my hand. The car and I had a stare down like we were in the Old West.

“You had your fun. Now it’s time to start. I have places to be next week and don’t have time for car tantrums.” I envisioned myself walking into the service section of the Honda dealership going, “I need help. My car is having a tantrum.”

I slid in front of the wheel. I stuck the key in the ignition.

I took a deep breath.

I turned the key.


....the car rumbled back to life as if nothing were ever wrong.

I mean, what a bitch!

I let it run for a few minutes. Then I turned it off. Then I put it back on, just in case it was teasing me.

And it still worked!

I’m guessing it didn’t like the really cold temperatures?

But we’re in Wyoming, it’s going to HAVE to get used to the really cold temperatures.

I’m going to call the Honda dealership and will have them look at the car, just in case.

I don’t have the patience for car tantrums, after all.


  1. Car PMS? Try feeding it chocolate and giving it a bubble bath with wine. Works for me :-D

  2. I have a Honda too, but mine starts even in -14 temps.

    Yours is obviously a female, and therefore slow to warm up.

    Next time, try slowly rubbing your hand over the rear end for a few minutes and see if that does the trick.

    If not, then you car has a headache.

  3. A car that won't start rates very high on the list of things you never want to have to deal with. Hopefully this isn't something you'll have to contend with again, especially as new as your car is.

  4. Car tantrums are the worst. Glad it's going now! And the comment above me had me rolling, absolutely hysterical.

  5. Ours did that last week. Only, it likes to do it at the gas station, right after I get gas. Just sit there and do nothing. Punk van.

  6. Stressful! I am impressed you didn't panic & have it towed somewhere. So glad your NEW car finally started for you!

  7. Maybe you should look into a car coat? Just a suggestion.

  8. You are far more patient than I am. I would have been on the phone with AAA on day one.

  9. What a pain in the butt!!! I try talking nice and then they get a kick, lol! Car problems - way not fair when your husband is deployed.

  10. Maybe a engine block warmer and a remote starter are good things to get? Testy cars are awful. Mine does the engine light if I don't change the oil at exactly 3,000 miles, then it starts rumbling under my feet. Weird.

  11. My husband's truck has the same type of tantrum every once in awhile. At least you didn't yell obscenities at it.

  12. Maybe Tom can get stationed down in the Bahamas next time. Or at least Florida.

  13. wow - i'm truly amazed it started. I hope it's not the cold. good luck with that.

  14. I swear one time I had a car that healed itself. One month it was barely running and overheating all the time, and the next month it was fine. Go figure.

    I'll never understand cars either!

  15. Yeah, living in Utah, this has happened on more than one occasion. It usually needs a good swearing to.

  16. when I let my car sit for a few days I always wonder if it will start...but then again it's a 2002 Saturn with LOTS of miles lol and it hates me.
    Glad your car started -- I would also take it in, just in case =)

  17. You are strong enough, you are amazing! I would have crumpled up in a big mushy pile and cried. Glad it started for you!

  18. Much better for that to happen at home than when you were out. I hope you can figure out what the problem is!

  19. No way! It really just started back up like that? Stupid cars. My driver's side window won't go down when it is hot outside. I live in TX. It is hot 10 months out of the year. Do you know how hard it is to go through a drive-through when your window won't go down? Sure, it's a good weight loss program but eventually we'll all starve to death.

  20. Seriously, nothing stresses me out more than car trouble. And's totally unfair when you have a brand new car for it not to just work perfectly ALL the time. So glad it started up again for you, and hopefully it was just the cold and all is well.

  21. If it makes you feel better, I thought my stove wasn't working because it was just out of propane, but I found out last night from the previous tenants that the stove just doesn't work in the winter. And they don't know why. And they could never get anyone to look at it. They just cooked in the microwave in the winter. >:(

  22. All your car wanted was a warm blankie that night!! to punish you, she decided not to start when you wanted to go out.

    I don't speak car, either. This is just a theory :)

  23. Good luck.. guess cars get pissed off at the cold too.

    I have missed your blog..

  24. Not to get all weird... but maybe you were being saved from being in a terrible accident?

  25. Glad your car started. That is the WORST feeling!

  26. My car throws tantrums like that in the winter. (Of course my old car didn't and my new one would e__e) My car savvy friend of mind just told me to stick the keys in the ignition, turn it - but not to the point of turning it on for 10 minutes before using it. 'Get the fluids moving' ...or something. Well it's worked for me I figured whatever maybe it'll work for you!

  27. I hate it when that happens!!! Thankfully, I have my husband with me and he can deal w/ it. Even though he hates to deal w/ it, I still make him.

    Glad it got started again!!!

  28. No premium gas for you ya whiny vagina. Suck it up and enjoy the cold for a few more months...I'm talking about the car here ;)

  29. Your car kinda sounds like it would rather live in Hawaii. Or Southern Cal. Just sayin'.

  30. Frankly, your car sounds like she's a bit of a diva. Threaten to trade her to someone in Russia and see if that makes her behave.

  31. Wow - so letting the car sit for a couple of days, slapping the steering wheel and swearing at it works? Huh. I'll have to try that some time. Glad it's up and running.

  32. My truck did the same thing over the weekend! Except it was actually the battery...and my big ol truck takes two! Luckily we still had 7 months on the battery warranty so we got two new batteries for free!

  33. I'm glad it started on its own. My battery died last winter, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. Then my husband told me: "Oh, your trunk was open all night. Nick (our baby) must've been playing with your keys." Sigh.

    It's good that you're getting it checked out anyway.

  34. No fun! It was definitely the cold temperatures. You should start it every single day when its that cold; that's what we always did growing up in WI. Also, I would like to thank you for this post because I read it aloud to my ex-mechanic husband b/c I knew he would laugh and he was like "she can't have a honda insight with kids, that's only a 2 passenger car" and he was WRONG. about a car. That never happens. So thank you :)

  35. That doesn't sound right. I have my car (a 2007 Mazda) in our garage (not plugged in), even when it's minus thirty and it still starts up. I'm impressed you looked under the hood though, good for you. I'd have no clue whatsoever.

  36. Yick. My car threw tantrums on me, at the worst times possible (going to class, late for work, you get the idea...). The horrific things was that whenever someone else tried to turn it on, she would purr like a kitten.
    And that is why my husband bought me a new car.

  37. Weird when cars do that... And I had to laugh when you recounted lifting the hood and peering in. I did that once, only to realize what I WASN'T looking for: gerbils on a treadmill. (I knew when I saw no gerbils that the car was just fine.) Happy New Year!

  38. Geez, you're lucky it started!

    Hopefully it doesnt happen again!

  39. We're girls. We're not supposed to speak car.

  40. Ed, you sexist pig!

    So glad I made some time to stop by. Ed's comment was so worth all of your pain and suffering. ^_-

  41. You've been quickly added to my Google Reader. I don't want to miss a dirty sock, no-sir-ee.

  42. someone above mentioned a blanky...not so odd, my car wouldn't start becasue of weak battery in the cold,didn't like anything below 4deg celcius, putting a blanket under the bonnet kept the frost off it and it would start down to 0c

  43. There are SO many good comments! Almost as funny as your post. So glad it started for you again and I hope it doesn't miss behave again!

  44. Hondas are not supposed to do that shit. That's why they're Hondas!

    I had one this time last year and all of a sudden, the transmission said, "Wow, I'm really tired. Peace."

    I was not amused. And to prove it, I sold the little booger.

  45. Car tantrums and computer tantrums are the two things that make me the craziest. So glad your car finally started!

  46. Oh gosh, I hate when stuff like that happens! It's really frustrating!! I'm glad it finally started for you. Did they find anything wrong?


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