Guest post from Shannon at The Crashing Door
Day One (28 miles)
So the first 24hrs of 911 Turbo ownership….let’s first assess the current status. It’s 8:30pm, I am still at work, I am covered in oil, I smell like a I just crawled out of a catalytic converter and I’m soaked. Well, how did we get here (thank you David Byrne)?
So when I test drove the car in question (a 1986 911 Turbo aka 930) the owner mentioned that the oil level gauge was inconsistent and often wrong. I think OK, no problem, always manually check oil and get gauge fixed at the first service. Yesterday I note that the gauge reads at about a third. I get in the car this morning and spot a dollar coin size puddle of oil underneath the sump tank, I am slightly annoyed but I think to myself, “Self, you own a 911 now, this is part of the charm”. During the drive to work the gauge is reading lower than yesterday. I am not alarmed but concerned. I decide to turn down any requests for rides and resolve to check the dipstick before I leave.
At 6pm I go down to the dark basement of the parking garage for the 5th time today to stare at the car. I say, “hey self, let’s check that ol’ dipstick before the ride home”. Consult the manual just to be sure and discover that you should check the oil with the engine running. Never heard of that before but hey, it’s part of the charm. Fire up the car, let it warm for a minute or two and consult again where the manual says the level should be. Remove oil cap, withdraw dipstick and oh ****. Oil is just barely on the tip. Put dipstick back in quickly and….!!!! The dipstick dodges its little guide and into the bowls of the oil tank it goes. AAAHHHH! I run and shut the car down and think to myself, “Self, are you a total f-ing moron?”. I spend a few seconds trying to reassure myself that I did not just do quite possibly the stupidest thing in the world, once all doubt was removed that indeed I had, out comes the flashlight. Impossibly deep in the tank neck lies the dipstick. Panicked, I stick my impossibly short fingers into said tank. Nope, that isn’t happening.
Ok, we can fix this. We need the coat hanger I always keep in my emergency kit present in all my cars (old VW MK1 owner habit)…..”Self, you remember thinking that you would put the kit together tomorrow right?”. Ok, we can still fix this. I trudged back up to my office trying to channel my inner McGyver. Get a heavy duty paper clip and a 3.5mm stereo cable. Form paperclip into a hook on one end and attach other end to cable (lord knows at this point I wasn’t taking the risk of allowing the damn paper clip to join the dipstick). Back down to the garage, secure safety cable, insert hook, remove dipstick. Pheww. Make note to add paper clips to emergency kits.
Well that was a close one, lets go home……crap still low on oil. Check service history and note the last weight and type of oil at the last change (2500miles ago natch). Walk to autoparts store in pouring rain (hey self, hows that whole “I live in Seattle, I don’t need a rain jacket” working out for you?). Purchase 4 quarts, a flexi funnel and some shop rags. Walk back and make note to add a rain jacket to emergency kit.
While the oil tank filler is not in a terribly awkward position we all have a little trouble hitting the hole the first time right fellas, no big deal, happens to everyone at some point. Wipe excess with quite possibly the least absorbent cloth to call itself a rag. Ahh, perfect, now we are all coated in oil. Fire up car, recheck and proceed to add about a quart whilst letting the shame, guilt and fear of damage wash over me. Check the gauge in the car and low and behold, smack dab in the middle.
Apologize to the gauge and car for ever doubting it and vow to never again, so much shame. I ended up taking the car around the parking garage to get some heat into it. Turning all levels into a space where you would not dare light a match. Proceeded to check the oil level about 25 more times. Each time cursing myself and whoever designed a rag which only transfers oil to your hands.
So in short, a humbling day. It’s good to be humble.