5 Gallons of Gas

My nephew just got his first junky old car, and he’s notorious lately for bumming gas money in really small amounts, like one dollar. That reminded me of my old ’65 Plymouth Barracuda. My Cuda is a car of legend, I could write a book about it.

One of the quirks of my Cuda was the gas tank would only hold 5 gallons. It was towed once and the tow truck dented the gas tank and poked a pinhole. I looked and looked but I couldn’t find the hole, just a greasy smear of wet gas. The pinhole was up high on the tank, if I put more than 5 gal in the tank, it would just leak out overnight.

Of course this was a huge inconvenience in a driving town like Los Angeles. I had to drive by the odometer. I planned my route to work so it went past several gas stations, in case I ran out. I was always keeping track of my gas milage and how much I’d put in the tank, calculating how many miles I had left on the tank. Any trip might be interrupted by a short hike, carrying a gas can to and from the nearest gas station. I was frequently late for work, and my boss was constantly infuriated. I told him if he paid me a decent wage I could afford to fix my car properly. That usually shut him up.

Sometimes I ran out of gas in really dangerous places, like the Santa Monica Freeway, and then I had no choice but to phone for a tow. I even got kicked out of AAA for excessive calls for a tow truck to bring gas. I don’t think 3 calls in one month was excessive, since I still paid for each tow. With all these additional expenses, it took me a while to scrape up enough money for a proper repair.

I took the Cuda to a AAA-approved Unocal 76 service station, I paid them $200 to patch and repair the tank. Unfortunately, they destroyed the gas gauge sensor while pulling the tank. Now I could fill er up, but my gas gauge always read E, which was almost worse than my previous problem with the leak. At least I ran out of gas less frequently, if I always kept the tank filled. Eventually, I had to have the entire tank and sensor replaced, at a cost of $300.

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