I was under the impression that it ran out and then one had to refill it - much like gasoline.
It was most likely a serious lack of knowledge on my part, but I like to believe that it was at least half circumstance that led to the death of my first car.
It all started with my parents.
When I graduated high school (and promptly moved out) my parents offered me my mother's old car.
I could just have it.
Well, as you can imagine, this was a massively big deal to me.
It was a dark blue, 1991 Buick Regal.
I can't draw cars.
I should have realized something was up when we had to boost the car to get it out of the driveway. My parents had let it sit all winter without turning it over or anything, so the battery was kaput. (I later replaced this by myself and thought that I was the best thing to happen to cars since they were given a roof.)
My dad's parting words of advice were:
"Here's the emergency brake, but you'd better make sure it's an emergency if you're going to use it. If it works, it will only work once."
But really, when you're a teenager it does not matter. I had my own car. A place where I could smoke freely, blare music, and leave my crap.
* * *
I excitedly filled my car with gas and drove to my Carpentry Apprenticeship. Imagine my surprise when I came out on smoke break and found my car sitting in a pile of gas.
"ARGH! The money! My car is sitting in a lake of money."
It was pretty devastating.
As it turns out, my gas tank had a couple of ...leaks... in it. I quickly learned to classify these based on the amount of gas I could put into my car.
Ten dollars was perfect. Up to twenty dollars had a slow leak. Between twenty and thirty there was a big hole that allowed gas to pour freely out of it.
* * *
The tires on the car were balding so badly that you could see the steel rims shining through the rubber. If the tires hadn't heated up when they were driven, they probably wouldn't have melted to the rims which was the ONLY THING holding them on.
One corner later, one of my tires blew.
Since I knew nothing about cars (see the first sentence) I had assumed that the 'bang' was me hitting the curb by mistake. That night I parked my car nose in and didn't see the flat tire. I was late for school the next morning and didn't notice it then either. So I jumped on the highway and drove about 130kms/hr to school.
"What an odd pulling sensation... huh... stupid steering wheel."
Some kind person in the school parking lot yelled that I had a flat tire as I ran into the building. First smoke break allowed me the time to go out and look at the tire.
Right flat on the ground.
Dad suggested I put the spare on. I told him I didn't have one.
"Yes you do."
"No I don't."
"Yes you do, it's in the trunk."
"Uh, Dad, I keep my tools in the trunk. There is no spare in my trunk."
"Just open your damn trunk."
So I smugly took Dad outside and popped the trunk on my beast to show him how there was no tire.
He then took my tools out and opened a SECRET COMPARTMENT. Holy frick! A spare tire!
"Well that's stupid..." I said, "A secret compartment. What if I was all alone?"
* * *
The back right taillight didn't work.
I was making a left turn on a yellow, when another car jumped into the parking lane and sped through to beat the red.
The accident only broke my left headlight (so I believed) and being as poor as I was I couldn't afford repairs. A junkyard headlight was acquired and I used duct tape to hold it in place.
Red duct tape.
On a dark blue car.
From the front, I could never signal left.
From the back, I could never signal right.
It was a special car that would quickly become special-er.
* * *
As it turned out, the accident also broke my radiator fan. I had never in my life heard of this fan before, and I really couldn't identify it now, but I can tell you what happens when it breaks.
What happens is that you keep on driving unawares, until one day you parallel park and get out of your car to see it spewing green all over the ground.
Green fluid was pulsing out of my car, under the headlights and over the bumper as the radiator had finally cracked.
My vast knowledge of cars led me to believe Scout when he said that dropping a raw egg into the radiator would fill the crack.
Needless to say, it didn't.
The engine was overheating - constantly - and began to melt.
It fused the spark plugs into the engine block.
My car would stall every time I stopped.
Sometimes it would start up again.
Most of the time it would just sit there and smoke.
At stoplights I would put on my hazards to warn other drivers of my crippled vehicle.
The people behind me thought I was turning left. The people in front of me thought I was turning right.
I got honked at a lot...
You'd figure the billowing smoke would have given it away.
Soon, my car would stall all the time. Mid-drive.
I would then pop my automatic car into neutral, turn the key (while still moving), and start the engine again before forcing it back into 'drive'.
* * *
The spedometer stopped working next.
I would judge my speed based on the speeds of the other vehicles on the road.
Then the odometer quit.
* * *
The Final Ride for my baby happened after a shopping trip. We had made it to the top of the hill and then she died.
The hazards went on and I tried over and over to get her to start again... but she had no vital signs.
A passerby helped push her to the beginning of the downward slope and she made the epic coast home.
Pathetic squeaks of a "power horn" with no power, and we coasted through stop signs and around corners to our street.
Google Maps says it was 1.1km of a coast.
There she sat in my driveway until I sold her for parts.
Comes with car on top.