Driving in New York City: Your Car Will Fall Apart

I hit a pothole

I hit a pothole

After getting home from a day around the city, I was disappointed, but largely unsurprised, to see that the silver-toned plastic wheel cover on our front left wheel was gone. Instead, the ugly, filthy rim of the tire gaped at me.

Cool Mum wondered if someone stole it. The hubcap wasn’t anything fancy; it came with the car. It didn’t spin or have LEDs to print out messages for fellow drivers (oh how I wish it did). The only special feature it had was that it quickly and efficiently collected brake dust. I knew the real culprit behind the missing cap: the unforgiving roads of New York City.

I think there’s something about the combination of

  • winter snows and the salt used to melt them
  • countless cars and trucks
  • a Department of Transportation that’s likely stretched to the limit (and couldn’t care less anyway), though you can file a claim if you believe your car was damaged by a pothole.

After having our car here for 8 months now, I’ve learned that crater-like potholes are just one of the hazards of NYC driving. If you own a car here, you just have to assume that it’s gonna take some damage, whether someone bumps your fender or you lose a mirror. And that’s just if you’re parked on the street!

When you’re driving, it only gets worse:

  • People will drive in any open space they can – be it a bus lane, bike lane, or fairly low median. And said people will cut you off if a double-parked car is blocking their improvised lane. Speaking of…
  • Double Parking is Evil. An offender wants to run in for a quick pack of cigarettes or episode of Two and Half Men, but there isn’t a spot available. Who cares? Just make one and block a whole lane of traffic.
  • I have a feeling that at least half of all cab drivers must be aspiring astronauts. Otherwise, what drives them to break the sound barrier if given a clear 200 feet of road?
  • And the traffic is obscene – literally, as you might spot someone peeing in a side alley.

Our poor little car was clean and pristine when she moved up here. Now she has a broken mirror (fixed with duct tape), a busted license plate holder (fixed with pipe cleaner), and a missing wheel cover. But she faithfully gets us to points A, B, and C. Hopefully, for your sake (and ours), this will be the last of posts about how our car is falling apart.

photo: Chris Winters

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