Jerry Zezima, a Newsday assistant editor who writes a nationally syndicated humor column for his hometown paper, The Show More
Any motorist knows that the best way to ensure longevity is to regularly check your parts, monitor your fluids and make sure your undercarriage is clean.
You should do the same for your car.
That's why I am happy but not surprised that my sport utility vehicle recently hit 200,000 miles. Full credit for the fact that it is still running smoothly, which is more than I can say for myself most days, goes to Mary Husson, service manager at Hyundai 112 in Medford.
"Oil is the lifeblood of the car," Mary said when I brought mine in for an oil change.
"You mean extra virgin olive oil?" I wondered.
"That could be the lifeblood of you," said Mary, who has been my car's primary care physician since I bought it in 2004. "It's also important to rotate your tires," she added.
"Don't I do that every time I drive?" I asked.
"Now I know why you don't work here," said Mary, who has three cars: a 2013 Hyundai Sonata, a 2011 Hyundai Elantra and, her pride and joy, a 1999 Ford Mustang convertible that has only 63,000 miles on it.
"I keep the Mustang in the garage for six months," Mary said. "When the weather gets nice, I drive it with the top down."
"Can't you get arrested for doing that?" I inquired.
"Yes," Mary replied. "But at least I don't waste gas by using the air-conditioning."
Then Mary showed me cellphone photos of her adorable little granddaughter, Sophia, who's 1. Not to be outdone, I showed Mary cellphone photos of my adorable little granddaughter, Chloe, who's the same age.
"Chloe has her own little car at home," I said. "She loves when I push her around the house in it. Now that the weather's nice, we go outside."
"Does the car have 200,000 miles on it?" Mary asked.
"No," I said. "But sometimes it feels like my feet do."
"Going over 200,000 miles is not really a big deal," said Mary. "If you take good care of your vehicle, there's no reason why it shouldn't last longer. I knew a guy whose car had 275,000 miles on it. You could even hit 300,000."
Technician Anthony Busone agreed.
"It looks like you take pretty good care of it," he said as we stood under the vehicle, which was on a lift in the garage. "Some people don't."
Like the guy who never changed the brakes on his car.
"He got all the way down to the metal backings," Anthony recalled. "The rotors were worn away. He heard this thumping noise but didn't do anything about it. Miraculously, the car still stopped. I don't know what he would have said if it didn't."
"Those are the brakes," I offered.
Anthony, 22, who has been a technician for three years, has a 1992 Honda Civic with 243,000 miles on it.
"You must change the oil regularly," I said.
"Yes," Anthony replied. "I've also changed the motor. Most people can't do that."
"I'd have an easier time transcribing the Dead Sea Scrolls than telling you what's under the hood of my car," I noted.
"You don't have to," said Anthony. "That's my job."
And he does it well. Fortunately, my car, a Hyundai Santa Fe, didn't need open-hood surgery.
"You do need a new air filter," Anthony said. "And your rear brakes are getting low. Don't be like that guy. We'll change them next time you're in. Other than that, it looks pretty good."
On the way out, I thanked Mary and said I'd see her in 3,000 miles for another oil change.
"Fluids are important," she emphasized.
"I know," I said. "Especially when you have the kind of mileage I do."
"If you want to keep going," Mary said, "drink a lot of Gatorade."