As we collectively start tightening our belts and begin to brave the storm that is the economic apocalypse, it quickly becomes second nature to cut corners here and there, in the hopes of stretching every dollar to its limit. One of the first treasures in a person's possession that's going to bear the brunt of this new economy is their car. Perhaps it starts with an ignored "Check Engine" light, or maybe a trick you have to learn to close the passenger door. Then one day, you wake up and suddenly realize you're driving a full-blown hooptie.
By Brad Iger
The following article does not represent the opinions of Spike TV or its affiliates.
10. Your Trunk Looks Like a Pep Boys Exploded
The first definite sign of beater-dom is when you pop the trunk and there’s about three cubic centimeters of usable space available. This is especially true when the contents are things like various half-empty hydraulic fluid bottles, random tools, a flat tire, light bulbs, an empty gas can, and several hundred zip ties.
When it takes an army of life support measures to keep your car on the road, it’s officially ghetto.
9. Your Stereo Doubles as a Tune Up
What the hell is that crazy knocking sound coming from the front of the car? Is there a wolverine caught in the fan blades of the air conditioning system? Why does the car randomly emit a loud beep sound every fifteen minutes or so? Is a constant grinding wail a big problem?
If your solution to these ailments is to go from “4” to “11” on the volume dial of your stereo, your car is a beater.
8. The "Space Saver" Spare Tire is Now a Permanent Tire
Okay, you got a flat. Happens to all of us. So you slapped on the space saver spare – a mini wheel designed to take you from where you got the flat directly to a tire shop to get the original tire fixed. Except you didn’t quite make it to the tire shop.
Actually, you went to the movies instead. And you still haven’t gotten around to it. Well, that was in October. Of 2007.
7. Your Horn Died Mid-Honk
Possibly one of the most embarrassing things you car could do to you, just short of dying in front of a girl’s house before you set off on a first date, the horn death rattle can really be a blow to your ego.
Say you just got cut off by some jackass and now you’re stark raving mad, and directly behind him in heavy traffic. You decide to let him (and everyone around you) know how you feel about it by wailing on the horn until it becomes unbearable. That’ll teach ‘em!
But you didn’t anticipate that the horn in your hooptie would suddenly decide to kick the bucket, mid-honk, causing the horn to emit a sound as though your car had suddenly been afflicted with “performance anxiety.” Yipes. Even his car can’t get the job done! That’s what they’ll say.
6. Gauges Are Now More Like Vague Estimates
In a new car, it’s easy to take things such as accurate readouts for granted. You look at a gauge, and you know exactly what the state of your car is.
But on a beater, it’s a different story. The owner of a proper beater knows he can never trust those things. In a properly beat down car, the gas gauge will read half a tank, and a naïve owner will be lulled into a false state of security. Suddenly, as he passes the sign that says “next gas 60 miles”, the needle will drop like a bag of hammers and come to rest about 3mm above E, revealing the true situation: You're f**ked.
5. People Are Unwilling to Ride in Your Car
When you offer to drive, does it get awkward? Does everyone around you get kind of quiet and start shuffling around uncomfortably? Well, maybe it’s time to fix that hole in the floorboard. It’s time to face facts – chicks don’t dig the prospect of losing a foot. Also, there are rumors going around that the strangely gooey hole in the passenger seat fabric is growing progressively larger... on its own.
4. Your Car Scares People Around You
When you're driving around, do other drivers tend to instinctively move away from directly around you, as though they’re trying to avoid a blast radius? Do pedestrians take cover behind things when you come by? Do dogs bark at your car as though you were driving the disembodied head of Satan?
True, reactions like those are awesome. Well they would be, if you weren’t driving a ‘87 Nissan Stanza.
3. Starting Your Car Requires the Hood to be Open
So you’re in a big hurry. You have to be at work at 9. It’s 9:17. So you grab your keys, and haul ass out to your car. But then you remember that the process of departure has just begun. You briefly relish in the memory of days past, where you could simply get into your car, turn the key, and go on your merry way. Those days are long gone.
Now it’s a different story. Gremlins have had their way with your car, and now you have to transform into a journeyman electrician every time you need to start your car, mystifying those around you with your hard-earned knowledge of various tricks needed to move electrical current from one place in your engine bay to another. Yeah, that's a beater.
2. Your Car Isn't Worth Stealing
Reserved only for the upper echelons of beater-dome. If you can leave your car in the street with the windows down, and know with absolute certainly it will be the way you left it when you return, you’ve got yourself Grade-A ghetto ride.
Common attributes include a gaping hole where a stereo might’ve once been, a stench which demands that the windows never get rolled up, and interior which constantly sheds various bits of material on anyone unfortunate enough to be within its confines. A thief looks at your car and says “man, sucks to be that guy” and moves on. Criminals pity you. That’s where you’re at right now. Thug empathy.
1. Only You Can Operate This Vehicle
If there’s one aspect of a clapped-out car that embodies the term “beater” more than anything else, it would have to be the notion that only you can operate the thing without dying.
Are you afraid to let someone borrow your car because only you know that the brakes only work on the 3rd try? Do you find yourself telling people “nah, it’s cool” when your dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree when you hit a puddle? Does the idea of avoiding bumps because the shoddy suspension will cause the wheels to scrape the underside of the car seem like second nature to you, but completely foreign to the guy moving your car when you go in for your annual car wash?
You sir, drive a beater. Welcome to the club!