Monday, March 19, 2012

Catkins Killed My Car

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 9:59 AM

March is the month when things fall from the sky in Memphis. And a lot of it lands on our cars.

Green-yellow pollen coats our cars and rooftops and triggers allergies. Birds bomb those drivers crazy enough to park beneath trees, like the ones in front of our office, and the droppings always seem to have a high fruit and berry content, usually purple. This is guaranteed to happen within an hour of washing your car. Also, a misty sap appears on your car windows a couple of times a day, and if you don't hose it off before turning on your wipers you can create a near blinding haze on your windshield, especially at night.

And then there are oak tree catkins, also called worms, snakes, strings, and tassels. They pile up in driveways and streets, clog gutters, and eventually blow away. But not before they kill cars, or at least car electronics.

A few years ago I let the catkins build up on my windshield, and some of them found their way into the three drains between the hood of the car and the windshield. One morning I noticed that the floor well on the passenger seat side was wet. I inspected the windows and sunroof. Everything was sealed tight. My mechanic checked the drains on either side, and they were clear. The problem was that a third drain in the middle was clogged with leaves, nuts, and catkins.

Water got into the electrical harness, and left my dashboard without a working odometer, speedometer, or gas gauge, plus a couple of lights that never go off. The repair estimate was several hundred dollars, but the car is so old that some of the parts were nearly impossible to find. So I learned to drive with a gas can in the trunk — dangerous, I know — and to pace my speed by the traffic and the tachometer.

I blame it on the trees and those damn catkins.

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