I was driving home from a great camping trip at Sandbanks this past weekend and as the road curved slightly, my oil light went on along with the melodic “beep….beep…beep…”. My response was obviously to put my finger to my lips and gently say “shhhhh”, and it eventually went off, only to come on again at the next curve. I think it’s only turns to the right. It’s been like that for a month or so. Usually when this happens, I wait until it comes on more frequently and then just add some oil, and the problem stops. And yes, by problem I mean, the oil light coming on.

My friend who was in the car with me asked that he not be named, so I’ve changed his name here. My friend Terry, Terry McTillivray, laughed slightly nervously at my response to the oil indicator. When I mentioned that I would just add more oil when I got home, I took great pleasure watching his reaction out of the corner of my eye. He tried to be calm but it was like I had fried his brain with such a sickening statement. He opened his mouth and raised his hand as though to talk, but no words came.

Eventually he said, “you’re going to check the oil level first right? You know that too much oil is as bad as too little, right?

“Oh it’ll be fine. I do it all the time. I won’t put a full bottle in.” I replied, enjoying the conversation and especially his reaction immensely.

I debated continuing with my hateful talk, but I decided it was time to come clean and share my perspective.

I realize that guys find it almost physically painful to hear about someone treating their car as poorly as I do, and it actually amuses me greatly. Because here’s the thing: You find it offensive that I don’t take my car in to get fixed when it’s giving me a  clear signal that there’s something wrong; but meanwhile you hurt your foot a month ago, are still bothered by it, but you haven’t done anything about it. I will only have my car for another year or two, but you’re stuck with that body forever.

So yes, I admit it. I treat my car like crap. To all of you who think the “one owner” description in the used car ad is a good thing, remember that owner might have been me. But I maintain my body pretty well. Definitely better than I maintain my car. Yes, I have set that comparative bar pretty low.

What about you? Do you treat your car better than you treat your body? Did a feeling of anger overcome you as you read about my car-abuse, yet you don’t afford your body the same reverence? Are you willing to consider that maybe not maintaining your body is a bigger sin than shushing the oil indicator light?


Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, loves driving her Volkswagen but is much less fond of maintaining it.

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