One of the first things we did when we came to live in Israel 3 and a half years ago was buy a car. Nothing fancy; something big enough to fit us all in (3, (sometimes 4) kids plus 3 dogs), sturdy, reliable and cheap. Having realised that there was no such thing as a cheap car here, we settled on a ‘modestly priced’ 10 year old Subaru estate with around 100k on the clock. Jeff, my other half, loved it…he said it was the most comfortable car he’d ever had (although I doubt that very much) as it was like driving around in your lounge. I, on the other hand wasn’t so impressed. I was convinced that it had been clocked, or worse, but as it ticked all the boxes and fell within our budget, Jeff won and we bought it.
Almost as soon as we’d driven it home, it started to give us trouble and has continued to do so to this day. The fact that I have crashed it, twice, into bollards, leaving the front bumper hanging off (it’s now taped on with heavy duty gorilla tape), hasn’t helped…happily, I’m finally getting the hang of left hand drive. Luckily, there hasn’t been a repeat of the time when, as we went over the bumps at the airport as we approached security, it fell off completely and we actually drove over it. Those behind us in the queue became really angry as one of the kids jumped out to retrieve it and shove it in the boot through the back door (boot wouldn’t open, see below).
Fortunately, the long list of other problems had nothing to do with me. Let’s start with the windows; one by one, each has stopped functioning and we are now left with a car with no working windows. This can be difficult when entering car parks where one has to take a ticket. I’ve mastered the art of stopping in a particular spot and leaning out of the door to take it. It’s particularly problematic, however, when entering the airport. I’m always in a quandary about whether to motion through the glass to the security officer that the window doesn’t work or just to open the door to tell him, thereby risking getting shot on the spot for carrying out what could be seen as an aggressive act. I usually take the risk and open the door. Thankfully I’m still here to tell the tale.
Next up was the air conditioning. It became apparent that it wasn’t working when the car became like a sauna after driving it for a couple of minutes. It was actually blowing out hot air. That, coupled with the failure of the windows to open, presented real difficulties as the summer months approached. We even considered getting rid of the car altogether and replacing it with a ‘new’ one, but decided that on balance, it was still running perfectly well and that we wouldn’t get much for it. We’d just ‘run it into the ground’.
Thus, the air conditioning was fixed and we carried on. We didn’t trouble ourselves to get the windows fixed at the same time… what was the point as we now had good air conditioning. We could live with the car park and airport conundrums.
We also had a short spell when the boot wouldn’t open so we’d have to access it by putting the back seats down. A minor inconvenience (in the main) compared to some of the other problems.
We’ve also been treated to light shows now and again, when various lights on the dashboard come on for no apparent reason. We managed to convince ourselves that, due to the seemingly random nature of these illuminations, it was simply a bit of dodgy wiring causing the problem. Nothing major. We could live with it.
The coup de grace came recently as we (Jeff, Rafi, my son and I) were bowling along a 4 lane carriageway and Jeff (the driver) remarked that ALL of the dashboard lights had come on at once and then gone off. A few seconds later we stopped at traffic lights and the car died. The lights came on again and that was it. We were stranded at the front of the queue, in the fast lane, at the traffic lights. Jeff kept turning the key but nothing happened, just a loud clicking noise. As it dawned on us that we’d have to move it out of the way, a row ensued about where it was best to push it. Jeff insisted that we should push it to the left and leave it in the car park of the tennis club. I objected on the grounds that it wasn’t very sensible to push a huge car at a snail’s pace across a busy 4 lane carriageway. He eventually took the point and I steered (no mean feat when the power steering wasn’t working) while he and Rafi pushed it into the nearest side road. Another argument then broke out over where to park it…in the car park immediately to the left or on the road itself. Rafi suggested that it might not be a good idea to push it along the road with me steering until we found a parking space into which we’d have to manoeuvre it by means of parallel parking (with no engine). Thankfully a large space then came free at the front of the car park and we pushed it into there and phoned for help. We were told that it would be a couple of hours and so we started to walk home.
A couple of hours later help arrived. It seems that the ‘new’ battery (another thing which had gone wrong and needed replacing) hadn’t been fitted properly. Over time it had worked its way loose and completely broke free as we drove around. The guy managed to secure the battery in place (we begged as he insisted it wasn’t his job, he was just there to tow it to the garage) and the car is, once again, good as new.
Notwithstanding this, however, we’ve decided that enough’s enough! This morning’s incident could have been very nasty and there but for the grace of Gd…
We’ve finally decided that it’s time to say goodbye to our old ‘jalopy’. I’d like to say it served us well, but that would be a lie. Frankly, I’ll be glad to see the back of it!