My New Car Has A Rust Spot

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My new car has a rust spot. It came on so suddenly. How can this be? I bought the car brand new and have had it just a short time. Well a fairly short time. Is eleven and a half years a fairly short time? It sure seems so.

This was only the second brand new car I had ever bought in my life. The first was when I graduated law school. That one stuck around for two years before I became bored with it and sold it.

But since then I have become a faithful car-spouse instead of the serial car-philanderer that I used to be. So when we decided to buy a new car in the summer of 2006 it was a big deal.

Gas had shot up to $4 per gallon and our 5,000 pound full-sized van was getting old and needed some work. So our next car had to be thrifty but big enough for our family of five in a pinch. A 2007 Honda Fit seemed just right.

We even had to order this one and get on a waiting list, such was demand at the time. Our car took months to arrive. Imagine, a Japanese car having to come from, like, Japan. On a ship. How retro. The picture at the top was taken when our new car was maybe six months old. It still looks like this. At least in my mind.

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And now our new car has a rust spot. Actually it is now my new car. It was “our new car” when we bought it but that was before we bought a, well, new “our new car” for the Mrs. to drive. So our new car does not have a rust spot. But my new car does. It also has a couple of light bulbs out in the dash. And the floor mat has a tear in it. I suppose it needs a good cleaning too. Wait – looking at this picture, it definitely needs a good cleaning.

When I was a kid my grandma had a 1955 DeSoto. To me at that time it was the oldest thing that anyone could possibly drive. The starter conked out one day and Grandma traded it in on another car. This was in 1967. So Grandma’s DeSoto was about the age of my car now. Funny how Grandma’s twelve year old DeSoto was old on a biblical scale yet my twelve year old Honda is still new.

You can be quite sure that if the starter were to suddenly retire on my Honda I would get it fixed right away because I see years of life left in my new car. I used to occasionally listen to Click and Clack on the radio. I have never forgotten their explanation of the difference between a car and a heap. A car is something you can lend to someone with no special explanation needed about how to drive it. A heap requires detailed instruction on how this particular car differs from every other normal car on the road. By this definition my new car is definitely not a heap. And I refuse to let my new car become a heap. A project that will begin with fixing the rust spot.

My friend Jim Grey shared a picture on his blog of his elementary school in South Bend, Indiana. It was a stately, classic school building that I find beautiful. And it was old. I didn’t go to a school like that. My school was brand new in the fall of 1965 and I was there on opening day. My mother put me in a red shirt so that she could pick me out when I came out of the building after the final bell. We both had a little trouble that day. Her trouble was that about half of the other mothers had done the same thing and she was beseiged by a sea of red-shirted grade-schoolers flowing from the front doors.

My trouble was that I turned left instead of right when I exited the classroom and went out a different door from the one my mother was expecting. Well, I guess this kind of became her trouble too. I knew where I was from my time spent going on walks with our neighbor Mr. Johnston and his dog Pogo, so I made it home before she did. Does anyone walk to and from school anymore?

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Glenwood Park Elementary School. Photo Source: FortWayneSchools.org

I looked up pictures of my old school and discovered that they are in the midst of a renovation. A renovation? If there is any school that could not possibly need a renovation it is my old grade school. Sure, it has been a little while since I have been back, but it was just beautiful the last time I was there. Almost brand new. OK, so maybe 1972 is longer ago than I like to think.

This reminds me of one summer in college. In the fall of 1980 I had a job which involved driving a Chevette with a lawnmower in the back to a small funeral home in Albany, Indiana. Once there I would cut the grass and then drive back. I hate Chevettes. The one I rented in Connecticut one weekend wasn’t any better. What, this isn’t current information?

Anyhow there was an ancient school building next door to the funeral home that was in the process of being pummeled by a wrecking ball. During a break I noticed an elderly woman standing on the corner, watching the building slowly come down. “They’re tearing down the new school” is all she would say. “New?” I thought. It looked like it had been built in the 1920s, making it over fifty years old! That wasn’t a new school but a really old one.

Old schools, new schools, old DeSotos and new Hondas. I suppose I am going to be forced to admit that all of this is about age and perspective. But I am not going to take it lying down.

Once the weather warms up I will be out in the driveway giving my new car a good cleaning up. I will also get some sandpaper and some spray touch up paint and do something about that rust spot. I simply will not accept a new car with a rust spot.

I can see right now that fixing my rust spot is going to cause a terrible dilemma. It is universally understood that once a car carries paint that has been sprayed on by its owner, the car is absolutely, positively no longer new. But at the same time it will still be my new car.

As of this moment I am not sure how I am going to reconcile this new reality to my current one. I suppose it will depend on what kind of a result I get with my repair. Fortunately one of my fast-becoming-obsolete skills is that I am pretty good with a spray can of Dupli-Color. So for right now I am betting that I am going to continue to enjoy my new car for several more years.

11 thoughts on “My New Car Has A Rust Spot

  1. I had to drive the Matrix every day for about three weeks while I was shopping for a new car. In those three weeks the veil came off my eyes: my baby really was old, tired, and past time for retirement. It’s a hard realization, because you keep seeing it in your mind’s eye as being hale and hearty — right up until that harsh minute when you don’t.

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  2. Could be worse. My rust car has a new spot.

    My hometown built a new city hall a few years ago which replaced the one I remember them just building in the ’70s. Somehow the fact that that was 40 years ago is weird, but the fact that 2008 is a decade ago is even weirder.

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  3. We both know people who trade off their car whenever it needs an oil change, so I applaud your tenacity in keeping a car for 110% of a decade.

    The old/new thing popped out recently when my paternal grandmother (who turned 97 the day before yesterday) was reconciling the leak around her chimney with the requirements of a repair. A fix necessitates removal of an interior wall but, as she told my aunt, she can’t take down that wall as “your daddy just built it”. My aunt broke the news to my “Mentally I’m Fine, But I Have A Profound Talent For Denial” grandmother that she was widowed over 51 years ago and she had the choice of keeping the wall or having her house fall down. She’s still deciding.

    We all struggle with such things. As much as anything it’s a painful reminder of the passage of time, how quickly it goes, and how most of us are no longer 20.

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  4. Yes, time marches on and we are all marching too, whether we like it or not. Looks like typical Honda behind the wheel rust, still better than not so long ago (early 1970’s, that wasn’t so long ago?) when an eleven and a half year old Honda would be a pile of brown flakes with some aluminum and plastic bits mixed in.

    I suggest you take the bumper cover off, since rust is always ten times worse than it looks. Also get a can of Krown rustproofing, It’s a Canadian chain but they do have some outlets in the US so you may be able to mail order it. Take the interior trunk panels out and hose that stuff into the wheel well seams.

    That stuff really works, and has made all my vehicles look great and be non rusty right to the end of their mechanical usefulness.

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    • I have been hoping that this one got its start where the bumper cover seems to have rubbed off paint in the place where they meet, and has now started working up under the paint. The other half of my brain realizes that I may only be seeing the visible 10% of the problem.
      I have heard you Canadians speak of Krown and I may need to investigate this.
      I remember an 8 or 9 year old Studebaker that lived down the street around 1970-71. Every time you slammed a door a little shower of rust would fall onto the driveway all around the car. Times have changed for the better.

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  5. We all start out being young and new and smart.

    Everything we think or do, or plan to do, is just so perfectly right.

    We rail against the conspicuous consumption of our elders, their obsession with status, and look forward to living on our own, under our own modern terms, doing life as it should be done.

    We buy cool things, first inexpensively, and then if we’re lucky, newer and nicer.

    We have great music.

    Some go to Woodstock and follow the Grateful Dead in old school buses.

    Others join the corporate world and work to over shadow the ruling elite gray hairs.

    Some do both.

    We dive into life, love, work, and family, finally doing really important things the way they should be done.

    We go to Lamaze classes.

    We start to make progress – maybe two steps ahead and only one step behind. That’s progress.

    A recession here, a war or disaster there, maybe a divorce, a death, or a collapse of long-term friendships, religious and/or political beliefs, or just the simple loss of the ability to eat whatever you want and not gain weight, and we start to feel the figurative and literal aches and pains of a life well, or perhaps not well, lived.

    Suddenly, we are doing MRDs (*) of our IRAs (if we are lucky).

    Parents and other loved ones die, some suddenly and shockingly, others, more sadly, slowly and painfully.

    Our children grow up, confessing their feelings that they see us as conspicuous consumers and overly obsessed with status.

    We go to the bathroom more at night.

    We see young lovers planning an expensive wedding and keep to ourselves the FACT (as we see it) that their marriage will not last long.

    All of our hard earned objectives – families, careers, homes, life styles, political and religious beliefs – slowly show themselves to us to be embarrassingly dated, unsteady, or not as well considered as we had thought. Some of these cherished objectives have rust spots.

    As do we ourselves.

    Rust spots and gray hair.

    Better than the alternative.

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