A few years ago, when visiting some friends in El Paso Texas, I learned a new word when a girl referred to her car as, “ just a Hoopty”. That’s when I learned Hoopty is the equivalent of “beater” or jalopy. Well Saturday was my first attempt to get all of our vehicles to pass the state inspection. My Hoopty pickup didn’t pass.
One of the required repairs is the running light lens. It’s there. It’s just broken. According to the inspector, “broken or cracked is OK” but it’s the part that’s missing that kicks me out.
You may have noticed the difference in the paint on my Hoopty truck between the hood and the fender. When we were living in Chesterfield VA in 2000 or so, I’d invited my neighbors to use this pickup anytime they needed a truck for projects. I told them the keys were on a hook in the garage. One Saturday morning, the lady from across the street was at my door crying and said, “You don’t have no truck no more“. What? Her husband had left my little pickup in neutral and it rolled off the driveway and about 500 yards across their property where it took a tree right into the middle of the grill. Ouch! He offered to buy the truck but again, it’s not worth anything. We found the body-work version of a shade-tree mechanic and in no time, it was back on the road.
While in the waiting room for my wife’s pickup, horse trailer and Mustang to pass inspection, along with my motorcycle, we heard crazy stories of other vehicles getting work done. One was a car that needed turn signal bulbs on the right front and left rear. I almost choked when they quoted $45 for that repair. For light bulbs?!!! Another car needed brake work. The owner said he’d had a friend doing the brake job but noticed it wasn’t stopping very well. The mechanic told him the entire disc brake assembly was being held together by a bungee cord.
My pickup also has a seal that has gone bad in the back axle and is leaking oil onto the brake pads. Even if you haven’t studied drag coefficients, you know that can lead to a negative stopping experience. The repair is $1,001. My little Hoopty pickup is probably worth $500 on a good day. I’ve had people offer to buy it more than a dozen times for just that reason. For someone who works constructions or needs a beater for yard projects, my Hoopty would be great. I put on an exhaust system about 5 years ago and joked that the $600 pipe job probably doubled the value of the truck.
Now watch. I’ll find out Hoopty is some sort of derogatory term and I’ve just insulted hundreds of people. By the way, my SUV flunked because of a crack in the windshield. My wife’s F-250 truck failed because the cover on the driver’s side mirror got yanked off in a car wash a while back. This is going to cost us a lot to get everything road-worthy. My father-in-law used to go to get his truck inspected in Illinois and he’d leave a case of beer in the bed of the truck for the inspector. They’d had that arrangement for decades. The problem is that I haven’t known the inspector long enough to suggest a deal like that. I’ll just go buy the parts I need and try again.