13 Things I Learned When My Car Faltered on I-15

Illustration by Jesse Sutherland

Illustration by Jesse Sutherland

1. If you push a 1994 Honda Civic with nearly 150,000 miles on it up and down 4,000-foot climbs while commuting to and from a Los Angeles yoga studio every-other-weekend for months on end, at some point, shit’s going to give out.

2. That shit is likely to be the clutch.

3. You can only go so far in third gear.

4. Pulling over to the side of the freeway on a cold, dark night and waiting an hour for someone to come rescue you is a bad idea. You could be 100 feet from the coolest natural wonder in the Mojave Desert, but that won’t save you from The Hitcher, now will it?

5. Clearing your mind and using your yogic breath is really, really hard with everyone honking and yelling at you.

6. Significant others who took auto mechanics in high school and/or listen religiously to NPR’s “Car Talk” are invaluable. They should be at the top of your speed dial.

7. Being stuck in third gear is less horrible when you’re climbing a mountain pass with semis in front of and behind you. This is a good time to call your “Car Talk”-addicted boyfriend.

8. There is a way to shift a manual transmission without the use of the clutch! Your boyfriend is the most brilliant person on the face of the planet.

9. Shifting a manual transmission without the use of the clutch isn’t as easy as your boyfriend makes it sound.

10. But it works!

11. The best way to keep moving in fifth gear for 50 miles without having to shift is to pretend you’re a New York cab driver. Who’s invisible. And bulletproof.

12. The best sight ever seen by human eyes is the twinkling lights of Primm as you come over the crest of Mountain Pass.

13. A new clutch for a 1994 Honda Civic costs $139.


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