The Great VW Golf Debacle

No.  This is not an account of my last foray onto the links - although the title could often describe my golf game.  No - this is a golf debacle of another sort.

You see - my wife and I purchased our 'brand-new pre-owned' 2001 Volkswagen Golf GLS TDI this past May and instantly fell in love with this little vehicle.  It is in great shape and will go a million miles on a tank of fuel...seriously!  There's one important thing you need to remember about owning a 2001 Golf TDI.  It takes diesel fuel.

So last Thursday, in the middle of a very hectic day, I was on my way to yet another meeting when the fuel light came on in the car.  I usually go to one of two stations in my area that are supposed to have the 'best' diesel fuel, however I was far enough away from both of them that I decided not to risk making it.  I pulled into another station that I had never purchased diesel from before and was relieved to see the word 'Diesel' on the post at the end of a row of pumps with an arrow indicator pointing to the left.  I quickly pulled around to the left side of that row of pumps, put $20 in the tank, grabbed my receipt and got back in the car.  I turned the key and started the engine, put the car in gear and started to roll forward when I noticed a different pump at the other end of the row - a bright yellow pump with the word 'DIESEL' emblazoned on the side.  I had put gasoline into my precious Golf TDI.

Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to immediately shut off the engine.  At which point I began to have a minor meltdown.  I was smart enough to know that you aren't supposed to put gas in a diesel engine but not informed enough to know exactly why.  My mind began to race out of control.  'Had I ruined the engine? I'm such an idiot!  How much is this going to cost?  I can't afford a big repair bill right now.  I'm such an idiot!'

I realized I couldn't leave the car there in front of the diesel pump forever - so I put the car in neutral, opened my door and with one hand on the wheel and the other pushing the door frame I managed to get the car moved away from the pumps and off by the side of the curb in the service station parking lot.  I'm not sure I could do that again, but embarrassment it seems, is a powerful motivator.  Things get a little fuzzy after that.  I called a friend and he called a mechanic who said a bunch of stuff that basically translated to 'it's going to cost a fortune!'  My friend came and got me and, with the station owners permission, I left the car there until I could figure out what to do.

When I got home - I remembered that my neighbour who sold me the car, had told me about an online forum for TDI owners.  I typed in the web address and put 'gas by mistake' in the search window and one by one, threads kept popping up with details on people - lots of them - who had done the same thing as I had.  Suddenly, I didn't feel quite so bad.  More importantly, I got all kinds of information about how to fix the problem.  Because I had managed to turn off the engine almost immediately after starting it, I was not in as much trouble as I thought.  I committed the repair process to memory, and with my 18 year old son in tow, we set out to fix the car.

An hour or so later after all the fuel had been drained from the tank, we pushed the car back to the diesel pump - the bright yellow one I mentioned before - and pumped the right fuel in.  I got behind the wheel, said a little prayer, and turned the key.  She started right up like nothing had happened.  I revved the engine for a few minutes - no issues.  Then I took it out on the highway and really opened it up, just to make sure she wouldn't cough or sputter or run a little rough.  Nothing - good as new.  No problem at all.  That was three days ago and she's still running great.  And all it cost me was the $20 I paid for the gas.

So here is what I'm feeling.  Humble...humiliated even.  I am the one who always has things under control.  I pride myself on not making mistakes.  God really does have a sense of humour doesn't he?  I am always bugging my wife and son about putting the right fuel in.  And ironically enough, I just preached a message last Sunday about the sin of pride.   Hmmm?
And grateful - incredibly thankful that I didn't have to pay a fortune to get the car fixed.  I suspect that God somehow was the one who gave me the presence of mind to turn the engine off so quickly.  And he was the one that stopped me from making a snap decision about getting the car towed to a mechanic and just being pulled along by the circumstance.  Looking back, the quiet whisper of the Spirit was enough to make me stop and take the time to assess the situation and research the possible solutions before making a snap decision.

Sounds silly maybe - super spiritual?  But I am convinced today more than ever that God is concerned about the very simple and mundane affairs of my life.  Yours too!  And if that's the case, we can all take heart because if he is that concerned about the simple stuff, imagine how concerned he is about the really big stuff.


Dave Carrol said…
Hey Jeff... welcome to blogging!
süz said…
it's just as good reading the story as hearing it first hand...
i'm so proud of you! you actually started blogging...i think i just shed a tear...
Jeff, you will forgive me for laughing at this story won't you? I couldn't help it. I love it when a man is humbled....especially when it comes to vehicles. :-)
Kelly t said…
Sorry for laughing too Jeff but anyone driving golf or jetta outside the warranty period is usually driving around in a money pit I've owned two. You save on gas but lose on service and repairs. I say get rid of it man. Koreans and Japanese providing far better qualitu and value than the Germans/ Mexicans these days good luck . sorry to hear about your sudden job loss at portico I guess there is reason for everything

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