A Superstitious, Non-Mechanically Inclined Person’s Guide To DIY Car Repair

My 13-year-old VW Jetta seems to be entering the phase of an automobile’s life where there’s never not something wrong with it. It’s been in and out of the repair shop pretty much constantly over the past few months, and lately it only starts on the first try when it feels like it. I’m determined to drive this car until it literally disintegrates, which means overlooking a lot of minor problems (like the turn signal clicker that got stuck and clicked nonstop for the entire drive from Oregon to Tennessee) and coming up with DIY solutions for potentially major ones. As someone with zero mechanical aptitude and a fondness for anthropomorphism, I approach car repair much like a witch doctor/zoo veterinarian. Here are some of the affirmation rituals, improvised prayers, and erotic dashboard massages that have become staples of my DIY car repair regimen:

1. The Problem: Car Won’t Start

The Fix: Take 20 minutes to figure out how to open the hood; open the hood; rejoice at your own cleverness; realize you have no idea how to do anything under the hood; wonder why you were so intent on opening the hood; close hood. Get back in the driver’s seat, repeat, “Please start, please start, please start, please start, please start” in a frantic whisper as you slowly turn the key in the ignition.

Success Rate: 50%

2. The Problem: Turn Signal Clicker Won’t Turn Off…Like, Ever

The Fix: Pound the dashboard as hard as you can with a closed fist until you bruise your hand. Then perform a “sound exorcism” ritual to extract the errant clicks from the dashboard in which they are trapped.

Success Rate: <3%

3. The Problem: Car’s Alignment Is Wonky Due To A Misjudged U-Turn That Resulted In A Traumatic Collision With A Curb

The Fix: Make another poorly planned U-turn, but in the opposite direction. When you collide with the curb this time, it will knock the alignment back into place. This is the auto body equivalent of a cartoon character getting hit in the head with a frying pan a second time to regain the memory they lost after getting hit in the head with a frying pan the first time.

Success Rate: 10%

4. The Problem: Car Is Making A Weird Noise At A Stoplight And Threatening To Stall

The Fix: Massage dashboard lovingly, cooing affirmations like, “You’re such a good car, aren’t you?” Promise to clean up the 45 pounds of empty water bottles on the floorboards (and even vacuum the seat covers!) as a reward for not stalling. Lean in close to the steering wheel and mouth the words “premium gasoline” in an overtly sexual way.

Success Rate: 75%

The Problem: Car Is Creaking Like A Pirate Ship Whenever You Turn The Wheel

The Fix: Pretend you’re a pirate and the highway is an oceanic pathway to an island of buried treasure. Give yourself a new pirate name (mine is Boobs Madrid), wrap a discarded Walgreens receipt around your head like a bandanna, and turn the radio to a Jimmy Buffett-heavy station. Every time you hear the creak, remind yourself that the car is not actually in dire need of oil or about to fall apart, it’s just participating in your fun new game.

Success Rate: Mental: 100%; Realistic: 0%

Note: Please do not actually try any of these repair methods, because they will probably ruin your car and possibly your life. But hey, they (sometimes) work for me!

[Photo via Shutterstock]