Towards the end of April, I spent an evening of “adulting” before pulling my red 2001 Chevrolet Camaro out from the dark cave it had been hiding in for seven months. Phone calls to the insurance company and texts to the landlord somewhat confidently confirming that my car would in fact vacate its 20 by 12 ft metal home come May 1st.
Anticipation, worry, excitement, and a drop of panic usually arrive when the time comes to bring one’s beloved set of wheels out on to the road when the snow melts. Last year, an obnoxious misfire echoed the walls of my storage unit greeted me before even sliding the gear shifter in to “D”. A year prior, when creeping forwards into the spring sunlight, a loud dragging sound underneath the engine bay revealed my front sway bar had rusted in half. Shit just almost always happens.
Thankfully, as the 13th year of owning this car began once the garage door on my storage unit was rolled upwards, my Camaro started and drove perfectly home after sitting idle since last October. No problems meant I was of course a happy gear head, eager and excited to start putting on the summertime miles, with the t-tops off of course.
Like any other enthusiast who pulls their car, truck, or motorcycle out from storage, there’s the ritual of making that to-do list of “things to fix,” or, “things to replace,” or “things to modify.” Project season begins for all of us, whether it be a full-blown restoration, routine check-up maintenance, or dreamy performance upgrades.
With my Camaro approaching 19-years-old, my list is substantial. Smaller priority items like replacing a cracked rear side light in the bumper and de-hazing my headlights. Medium, “that should probably get done” necessities like removing a rattling heat shield. The mandatory “musts” like changing my coolant and differential fluids. You get infected with this “let’s do it!” attitude and rush to the nearest AutoZone or RockAuto bookmark at the top-right corner of your internet browser.
After a quick excursion to a junk yard for that $2.02 replacement rear side light, I moved on to the next task: fixing a shattered center cap on one of my American Racing wheels. With the rim off the car, I tapped the old cap out and clicked the new one in. Two appearance aches resolved in an hour.
The next night, I’m driving on the highway and my oil pressure gauge drops into the red, followed by smoke trailing behind the car at 60 mph. I became immediately terrified and cut my speed in half until the next exit appeared seconds later. Thankfully, my parents live less than a mile from that exit. Paranoid, I slowly nursed the Camaro into their driveway. Oil was leaking literally everywhere.
Initially I thought I maybe bottomed-out , having foolishly installed 2-inch lowering springs in 2017. Was the oil pan cracked? Did I bust an engine mount? The questions flooded in. With the Camaro off and cooling down, I stepped back and quietly looked at it. I was sad, very sad, a type of sad you get when something’s gone terribly wrong. The thought of not being able to drive my favorite car for the time being was depressing.
The next morning I collected my emotions over mug of coffee and morphed them into two acknowledgements: I didn’t fail, and, the car wasn’t completely doomed. What started yesterday evening was simply a new challenge, and challenges always have solutions.
Days later, I crawled underneath and leaned into the engine bay, hoping to find drops of oil. Sitting cross-legged on the front bumper, I read through my Haynes repair manual. Scanning engine photos and skimming lines of text, I found the culprit.
The Camaro’s oil pressure sending unit and switch failed, draining nearly four quarts of fresh oil. To make matters more unfortunate, this occurred 48 hours after an oil change. Removing the blown unit is easy and a new one won’t cost more than $50. Crisis averted, but this might only be the beginning of more troubles.
But I’m not going to lean into fear. Neither should you when things break. It’s a learning opportunity. Everything can be fixed.
Now that you’re done reading my saga, go order some of the new Hooniverse merchandise we have. Our shirts are rad and stickers make your car go faster.
[Image Copyright 2019 Hooniverse/Robby DeGraff]