That Time My Rental Car Almost Blew Up
Now, this is the story all about how my rental almost blew up downtown… *cue the Fresh Prince theme*..
Well, okay, saying it “blew up” is a bit of a stretch, but.. well, just read on!
I promise it’s entertaining!
That time my rental car almost blew up
Tomorrow morning, the boy (Travis) and I are heading to Campbellford (a small, rural town east of Toronto) for his dad’s wedding. Usually when we go out of town we rent a car and drive, so we did that very thing this time.
I picked up the car around 3:15 in the afternoon, and then drove downtown to pick him up from work. I didn’t have to, but man, do I ever just love driving — and I’m being DEAD serious here, it’s my happy place.. but that’s another story. I digress.
When I got to his work, I parked around back by the employee entrance and turned off the car. I didn’t want to idle, and it would still be about 10 minutes before he was done.
Now, at this point, I’d already realized (and complained to our friend Brad) that the air conditioning wasn’t working properly. It would start out nice and cold, and then within minutes it would shift to that gross, “cold-but-not-really-cold-at-all” air that blows out when you don’t have an air conditioner. Ugh, that even sounds gross (and whether the A/C actually has anything to do with what was to happen next, I’m not entirely sure, but it did tip me off juuuust a lil)!
So, Travis finishes work, comes outside, hops in …. and I can’t start the car. Something’s just not right.
*cue dramatic music that makes your heart rate increase just a lil*
I try again.
Same thing happens, so I give the rental agency where I picked up the car a call.
I explain to them that the car doesn’t seem to want to start: the engine light is on, it sounds like it’s unable to catch, and it was literally shaking trying to start. She informs me that because it’s a ‘push start’ car instead of a key ignition, it’s not starting because the wheel is locked, or alternatively the battery was dead and I would have to call roadside assistance.
I knew it wasn’t the battery, though, because a) the radio was playing, b) all of the lights on the dashboard were coming on, and c) I’ve been driving for long enough to know when a battery is dead.
Nevertheless, I make the call to roadside assistance; I’m not convinced it’s just the locked steering wheel. They proceeded to help me start the car and unlock the damn thing — “pump the brake while starting it and twisting the wheel” — TA DAA! At that point, everything seemed to be running smoothly: no random lights on, no shaking, everything was A-OK.
Or so it seemed..
20 minutes into the drive, without taking my eyes off of the hood while stopped at a light, I nearly lost my shit.
“Is my engine SMOKING?!” I asked Travis, who then leaned forward to inspect the situation.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the engine began furiously smoking — right at the major Toronto intersection of Yonge and Bloor!! A younger guy in the car next to us had rolled his window down and uttered a quick, “hey, excuse me!” before pointing at the smoke coming from under the hood. So, when I say it was smoking, think of when the fat drips off of a sausage and falls onto the coals of a barbeque grill.
Yeah. It was THAT smoky.
So now what?
At this point, my hands are shaking. I’m a little frazzled and panicky, but if you’re telling me that if your car’s engine began smoking and you were deadlocked in traffic in the middle of rush hour you wouldn’t be frazzled and panicky too.. well.. then you’re just lying to yourself.
I pulled an illegal right turn and — again — parked illegally on the side of the road. I’d managed to call roadside assistance again, and this time the voice on the other end informs me that they’ll be sending CAA and a tow truck, but I’ll have to get another car (obviously). As luck would have it, we were right around the corner from their Yonge and Bloor location. I ran over, hoping to God we could get a car on such short notice.
Fortunately, the guy working at the Yonge/Bloor location was able to find me a car within 5 minutes, and they drove it right to me. Unfortunately, we stood around and waited not-so-patiently for the tow truck, but were relieved at 6pm by the dudes who worked at the rental place.
Long story short, I rented a car whose engine started smoking while I was driving through one of Toronto’s busiest intersections, and with the help of my one and only (?), was able to stay calm and positive (which is saying a lot for me). Shit happens sometimes, and I like to think that everything happens for a reason.
Why this happened today, and what I can learn from it, I haven’t figured out yet. But soon.
Well, kids.. it’s been a long day.