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What does a teenage girl do to a car?

Or maybe the question should be "what doesn’t a teenage girl do to a car?" Because the answer would be "maintenance."

Today the inside of the Jeep was drenched. I look at the Neon parked in the driveway and recognize that I have not inspected it in quite some time. My simple instruction to the teenage driver was "Make sure it has oil and tell me when any problems arise." I once drove it an eon ago to find that the speedometer worked…sometimes. So this teenage driver was guessing how fast she was going. How she avoided tickets was beyond me. With a little research, I learned it was a common problem among the Dodge Neon’s and the fix was to remove the instrument panel and resolder the connections. She claims to have had no problems with the speedometer after that but the fact she never told me about it in the first place should have been a clue about how future problems would be addressed (er, ignored).

First thing I noticed this morning? No oil! 2nd? Check engine light. The inside of the car is filthy. The trunk/boot is full of what appears to be half Goodwill, a quarter stuff sent home from the grandparents, and 1/4 teen’s stuff. A positive! The tires look great. A negative. The transmission slips (you’d think she’d mention that one). Oh, and the windshield wipers are worthless. But it did perform well on the Interstate.

I suppose if I were a better father, she and I would have spent many a weekend together performing maintenance on the car. Teen driver 2 approaches so I’ll have a chance to do better.

Update 29-March: Changed the oil today. Discovered the transmission had no fluid whatsoever. Not even sure how the car was moving.

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