A man — and his truck — have limits

Published 10:34 am Friday, August 21, 2015

I spent the first three days of this week living in fear and panic over an illness.

This was not something physically wrong with me or a member of my family, but rather my trusty 10-year-old, 159,525 miles on the odometer pickup decided to go and feel its age by developing a glitch in the worst place possible — the transmission.

This incident (rather, a series of incidents) happened while on my way to Saturday’s Tomahawk Tromp at Eagle Lake. The first assault hit when my transmission slipped into neutral as I was getting off Interstate 20 at the U.S. 61 North exit. The gears slipped twice more between the exit and Solid Rock Pentecostal Church, causing me much concern and forcing me to lighten my well-known lead foot on the accelerator.

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I had no problems after the third incident, and my truck ran smoothly the rest of Saturday and Sunday. The real anxiety began when I began looking for transmission recalls for my year and make of truck and found what I was looking for.

Folks, too much knowledge can be dangerous thing, especially when you’re talking about automobile repairs.

What I found was not a recall but several stories on a class action suit against the manufacturer of my truck for a defect involving coolant from the radiator leaking into the transmission and severely damaging the gears in the system.

Since my truck had too many miles to qualify to the factory repairs under the consent decree, I saw what it could cost me, and I didn’t like the four-figure price tag. I took an extra blood pressure pill, and spent Sunday wearing out a kneeler in church and talking nicely to my truck.

Monday morning my truck went into the shop. After three calls with the mechanic I learned several things: He could not duplicate my problem, the transmission fluid was not contaminated, they couldn’t find what caused the gears to drop into neutral, and “you can pick it up tomorrow.”

The good news was a major weight off my shoulders. I was having two nights of sleeplessness worrying I would have to buy a new vehicle and my new ride would be a tiny little car, and the potential of having to look up at the world instead of down on it was scary.

My truck is back and behaving. I wrote in a previous column that I love my truck, which is the third I’ve owned, and how happy I was with the performance of all three.

There was once a time when I did my own car repairs. I never touched transmissions, based on Clint Eastwood’s famous line in the movie “Magnum Force,” that “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Time, technology, two cases of carpal tunnel syndrome and the onset of arthritis in a couple of fingers long ago stopped my attempts at auto repair, but the old habit of listening for that knock in the motor has never left.

In this case, I’m glad it’s one of the few habits I still have.

I’m sure as time goes on, my truck will have other maladies that will put it in the hands of a mechanic. My only fear is that its age and high mileage will reach a point where someday we’ll have to part. That time will hurt.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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