Driving a Crapmobile

You know what I’m thankful for this year? MY CAR!

So I totally love my Mazda5. I used to drive a Mazda Miata, but alas, two-seater convertible plus a child don’t quite mix. I wasn’t emotionally ready for a minivan, so we went with one of the crossover-type options: the Mazda5. It has a third row of seats that fold down individually, so that’s just perfect for our family, because we have two dogs and each one gets a seatbelt for safety’s sake (well, that and that Digory likes to help drive. He really, really wants to help. Really.). However, when we drive with the child car seat and two dogs next to each other, Digory can’t share, so poor little Scout Dog ends up cowering in the corner while Digory takes up most of the room on the seat.

This is not the Crapmobile

So in the Mazda5, everyone gets their own seat AND there’s cargo room! What’s not to love?

A recalled part, that’s what.

We got a letter in the mail a short while ago saying that the power steering of my car may have a faulty part, but if the power steering goes out, don’t worry because the car is totally driveable, it will just be harder to steer. And no reason to take any action yet. Right. I even made the mistake of laughing it off and pointing out that my first 2 cars lacked power steering too, so no biggie, right?

Until I was in Beverly Hills for an appointment, and as I was driving the surface streets, my steering wheel suddenly became very tight and a light popped on my dashboard. Of course I pulled over and whipped out the manual (support your local technical writer–READ THE USER MANUAL!!!) and the completely indecipherable light on the dashboard did indeed turn out to be the power steering light. The manual recommended I turn my car off and then on again to see if that fixed the problem. I did so, and the power steering came back.

But of course, at that point I was completely paranoid. Now Beverly Hills is about an hour away from where I live, but the thought of driving on the freeway with power steering that could go out at any time freaked me out enough that I ended up driving in the right lane going granny-miles-per-hour the whole way home, taking twice as long to get there.

So needless to say, the car went to the dealer and I got a rental. And that’s where I got the biggest piece of crap car ever. I’m not going to mention the make and model except to say that I’m pretty sure that only rental car companies have actually purchased this vehicle. I sincerely hope so, because anyone who test-drove it first would be an idiot to pay actual money for it. It’s like something you would win on Let’s Make A Deal, except it was behind curtain #3 when the real prize–a non-crappy car–was behind curtain #1.

One of the main problems with this car was the size of the windows. Miniscule does not completely describe the viewing area of these altogether useless pieces of glass. The rear window might as well be a porthole on a 3rd class cabin on the Titanic. I have no idea why it’s so tiny, but it’s impossible to see while backing up, and I was seriously paranoid I was going to take out a cat and then feel really bad about it for a long time. Or a human, for that matter.

Although here’s an interesting thought. I wonder if I could sue Mazda for mental anguish if I accidentally ran over a cat with a car that they rented for me while my car was being serviced for a recalled part. Hmmmmm.

Anyway, the Crapmobile also drive like crap, and true to its nickname, sounded like crap too. I mean, call me old-fashioned, but in 2010 I want to be able to talk over the sound of the engine. Oh, and the rental car guy made it a point to tell me that the car was equipped with satellite radio. Not a cd player or anything, but satellite radio. That’s nice. Do I care about satellite radio?

No. No I do not.

I finally got my beloved Mazda5 back and am happy to say that no further issues with the power steering have occurred in the less than half a day I’ve had it back in my possession. But after driving around the Crapmobile, I am very glad we bought this car. It handles great, it runs quietly, it’s peppy, great gas mileage, and you can actually see out the windows.