The Only Time I’ve Wished for an American Muscle Car…

Growing up in the UK, I have that reptilian hind brain (sorry, I couldn’t find a good link to explain that one) that inexplicably draws me towards teeny tiny cars that get great gas mileage, like this one.  I think most ride-on lawnmowers here have bigger engines than my first car…

When I see Hummers, Suburbans or other oversized vehicles, my flight instinct kicks in and I switch off.

So as you can imagine, I’m generally not much of a fan of American muscle cars (with the possible exception of this one).

What the heck does that have to do with anything?  Well, let me tell you about the first time in my life I seriously wished I owned a big old clunky beast…  And it’s all thanks to being an entrepreneur.

My wife drives a VW Jetta.  It’s a lease, and the lease contract is almost up.  Since we’re stretching every dollar (and my credit has been repeatedly ambushed, mugged, abused and thrown in the gutter to fend for itself), we decided to buy the thing.  We got an okay deal, much lower payment, and all in all it’s a better deal than buying a car we don’t know the history of for the same amount of $$$.

The Jetta is coming up on 40,000 miles and the warranty runs out soon, so I took it to the dealership and had them fix a bunch of odds and ends.  They were very keen for me to have the 40K mile service, so I dug in to see what they actually did for the $500 they wanted to charge me.

Oil, oil filter, air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs and a bunch of walking around.  For $500.

Jeez.

So my "cheap alarm" went off and I declined the service.  I had them change the oil, oil filter and fuel filter (had a bad experience with one of those once) and resolved to do the rest myself. A day and $60 in parts later (I bought new wiper blades too), I had everything I needed to do the job.

The air filter was easy.

But the spark plugs?

Some idiot designed the engine so that the entire exhaust manifold is on top of two out of the four spark plugs.  For those of you that aren’t car inclined, rest assured that unbolting the entire exhaust manifold is neither fun nor wise.  Especially when you’re armed with knowledge that’s easily 15 years out of date and a set of tools that MacGuyver would laugh at rather than try and use.

It took all of 10 minutes to replace two of the plugs.  It took another 2-3 hours to do the others.  And at the point of my third major bit of skin removal, it occurred to me that there’s probably a bit more room to swing a socket wrench on a big old SUV.

So there you have it.  Years of prejudice re-evaluated thanks to the wonderful world of entrepreneurship…