Losing the Spark

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m making my regularly scheduled visit to Valvoline, another refill of semi-synthetic oil for my Saturn Ion Cardachrome.

At this point, my relationship with my local Valvoline shop in Latham is very cordial.  The service techs take care of my car, they explain what they’re doing and they explain what I need to consider for future maintenance.

And on Saturday, they alerted me that something needed replacement.

It was my spark plugs.  Apparently after 117,000 miles, my spark plugs – which were AC/Delco plugs, and most likely came from Spring Hill, Tennessee where the car was originally built 8 years ago – needed replacement.

“Do it,” I agreed.  “What kind of spark plugs do you use here, Champion plugs?”

Because, honestly, the only spark plugs I knew were Champion plugs, especially considering all the car commercials for Champion I’ve seen as a kid.

“Nope,” the Valvoline tech said.  “We use Bosch platinum spark plugs.”

That’s fine. The Gut knows to use Bosch spark plugs.

“Everything okay with the oil change?” I asked.

“Yep,” one of the techs said. “No oil leaks, it’s as a dry as a bone underneath. You’re doing fine with your oil changes, and really there’s only two Saturns that come in here on a regular basis that look almost factory fresh, yours and one other guy’s.”

Works for me, indeed it does. I almost wanted to take the old AC/Delco spark plugs back home and try to figure out if the plugs were original factory issue – I figured the serial number around the spark plug’s perimeter might give clues – but the tech threw the plugs into the trash, and I wasn’t going to reach in and pull them out.

After paying for my oil change and spark plug replacements, I drove home. Another glance at the odometer. 117,000 miles. Two goals to meet.

If I can reach 153,000 miles, the Saturn Ion will have achieved the same distance as my old Pontiac 6000.

And if I can get to 238,900 miles…

That’s the distance from my home in the Town and Village…

to the Moon.