Warning light no time to trade in

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Service engine soon.

"Oh, no," I thought as I stared at that illuminated message in the dash.

My mind raced to figure out what might have caused this warning. "I know I've had regular oil changes and the recommended mileage maintenance checkups. So, what could this be?" I uttered to myself trying to stay positive and calm.

"Maybe she (my car Diamond) is just getting too old," I mumbled. I have had her for eight years now. She is awesome on gas and she has taken me on trips near and far without ever any problems. But I think I have outgrown her.

It was too late in the day to take her in for service, so I just headed home. On the way there it seemed as if every car I passed was grabbing my attention. "That one is the right size and color. That one right there is newer and probably rides smoother." I had thought about driving to a dealership to take a closer look at some newer cars, but I didn't. I went home.

The next morning, I took Diamond to an auto shop to see if the technicians there could determine what the problem was. One of the techs ran a diagnostic test. It was $35.

He explained to me that the test showed an EVAP code and that it could mean a couple of things. Either I had not been tightening my gas cap enough or the gas cap was old.

"Is that all?" I exclaimed with relief.

Surprisingly, the technician said that he sees anywhere from 20-30 cars with the same problem on a daily basis.

No service engine light now and Diamond and I were fine.

This story reminded me of how things can sometimes go in relationships with significant others.

In our relationships, sometimes we get a warning message. Maybe the two of you've been arguing more lately and you are not communicating well. Or, maybe it seems that you just don't understand one another these days and that he or she is not the person they were from the beginning. You two have gone through a lot together and you're always there for one another. But, maybe you are thinking you have outgrown him or her.

When things are not smooth sailing between you and your partner, the world is not short on others that will surely pique your interest. "She is younger and the right size for me." "He is taller and has a better physique." "Oh, she listens to me and is easy to talk to." "Oh, he compliments me and makes me smile."

But, instead of going to the grocery store, nightclub, church or even to work to take a closer look at someone "newer," go home. Talk with your partner and make a decision, if necessary, to go have your relationship serviced. Sometimes that warning message doesn't mean it is time to call it quits.

Let a professional help you and your partner to process things and figure out what the problem is. There may be a fee, but you may be surprised to discover that the problems you two are experiencing are also true for dozens of other couples.

Relationships, like cars, require regular maintenance for optimal performance and longevity. Take care of the one you've got and the two of you will be fine.

Be encouraged.

Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at ln_dunn@yahoo.com.