How to clean a Cardachrome

It’s amazing how much junk you can accumulate in a car over time.  And it’s amazing all the places where you can store your junk.

Today is the last morning I will spend with my 2005 Saturn Ion Cardachrome.  It’s traveled over 124,000 miles, with at least 60,000 of those miles under my control.  Before it makes those final ten miles of our time together – from here to the used car lot – I need to clean out the car and take every personal item out of it, lest I lose it forever.  There’s trash, there’s paperwork, there’s important documents, there’s this and that and that and this.

And I have to find all those items under every crack and crevasse, in every pocket and drawer and decklid and pouch.

There’s a lot I need to remove from Cardachrome.  And I need to go from dashboard to trunk, and not miss anything.

First things first – gotta get the E-ZPass off the windshield.  Find my TomTom GPS and my car chargers that I stored in the armrest pocket.  All the pennies and quarters that fell out of my pocket and landed under the car seat.  One dollar and eighty-seven cents.  And most of it in pennies.  Great.  I’ve got enough loose change to purchase a couple of Oh Henry! candy bars.

Time to check the glove box.  I’ve really never considered putting my winter gloves in there – mostly the car manuals and an old disposable camera.  Keep on looking, Chuck.  Hey, here’s an old scratch-off lottery ticket, and I never checked if it was a winner.  Scratch.  Scratch.  No winner.  Well, there goes another two dollars to Andrew Cuomo’s discretionary fund.

Okay, back seat.  Some plastic bottle caps.  There’s that lens hood I’ve been looking for.  This and that.  Hmm… How the heck did those bottles get underneath the seat?  Did they fall out of one of the bags of soda bottles that I normally donate to the Humane Society?  I’ll take them over next time, when I have a fully stocked bagful of bottles.

Now for the trunk.  Half a bottle of laundry detergent, for use when I take my laundry to the 24-hour Island Wash laundromat in the Town and Village.  Oh, and here’s the fabric softener sheets.  And my auxiliary camera bag with a few rolls of film and a tripod mount.  Wow.

I sweep out a few more things.  Gotta get my plastic ice scraper off the back window ledge.  It was a simple $5 cone-shaped piece of plastic, but it’s probably the best ice and frost scraper I’ve ever used.  Sometimes if I’m in the mood, I’ll even use this ice scraper to clean my neighbors’ windshields.  Do a good deed.

One more cursory pass.  I take the Hamilton College window cling sticker off the driver’s side back window. The next time I visit Hamilton, I’ll purchase another window cling decal.  It’ll be a different style than the one I purchased at my 25th reunion a couple of years ago, I’m sure of that.

And I start thinking about this again.  It’s not too late.  I can tell the dealership that I’ve got buyer’s remorse.  I can return the check to the credit union.  Maybe if I drive some place for breakfast, everything will be fine.

I insert the key in the ignition.  Cardachrome revs up.  The emergency brake light goes on, indicating that I must release my emergency brake before I drive forward.

Trouble is… the emergency brake wasn’t engaged.  Cardachrome’s electrical issues are kicking up again.

I turn the car off.  I know that if I start this car again, that emergency light will return to normal.  But I’m sick of this.  I’m done.  Any thought I had of keeping Cardachrome disappeared this morning.

And just to confirm that I won’t back out… I take the car key and the keyless entry fob off of my keychain.  It’s full separation now.  I’m done.  This isn’t “see you soon.”  It’s goodbye.

One last cursory pass.  Did I get everything I needed?


I restart the car.  The instrument panel looks normal.  That’s fine.  I realize this is the last attempt by Cardachrome to convince me to change my mind.

It’s too late.  My mind’s made up.

Let’s Go, Cardachrome – next stop… last stop… the used car dealership.