Cars need love, too

This is Petunia, my 2015 Honda Fit, when I bought her at a Honda dealership in South Carolina back in 2014. Yum, look at that purple color. 

Maria Sestito's personal photo

My car makes me be a better person, but she’s also made me spoiled.

Just the other day, my car – who I sort of secretly call “Petunia” (a nod to my old purple Chevy Berretta, Penelope) – alerted me that my oil really needed to be changed.

At first, she was nice about it. A little orange wrench appeared on my dashboard when I turned my car on and I could see that my oil life was at 15 percent.

“That’s not too bad,” I thought. “I’ll make an appointment soon.”

But I didn’t make the appointment, so within the next week or two, when the percentage hit 10 percent, I would for sure get on it. But another week went by and DUN DUN DUN — five percent.

By this point, I knew Petunia wasn’t happy with me and I was feeling pretty neglectful. She seemed eager to get it done, possibly keeping the wrench light on longer than before, or maybe I was just starting to get paranoid.

I went to make an appointment, but it was about to be Labor Day weekend and none were available until after the holiday. (I worked. Why can’t you, Honda?!) I began making an appointment via the mobile website for Tuesday… technology being what is and me being who I am, the appointment didn’t go through and I said…umm… something like “Forget it!”

The weekend came and I drove Petunia into San Francisco for Comic Con on Sunday and back into Napa on Monday for work. (I currently live in Vallejo.) Everything seemed OK although she was sounding a little weaker than usual and I made an appointment for Thursday morning.

TIP: Honda in Vallejo has a mid-week special going on now for oil changes and tire rotations.

I was hoping that as the days went on, Petunia would ease me into the following percentages of oil life: 5 percent, 4 percent, 3, 2, 1, you know.

But that’s not what happened. On my way home from work on Wednesday, the night before our appointment, we hit zero percent. “What happens now?” I wondered.

It’s not like a needle-style gauge where you can pretend that once the needle stops moving, you’re OK for a while. No, instead of staying patiently at zero for another 30 minutes, Petunia went into the negatives, causing me to really panic.

- 3 percent.

- 4 percent.

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- 14 percent!

We made it home, but I felt sick for my girl. She’s still so new and cute and here I was KILLING HER. Not much can wake me up before 8 a.m., but getting her to the doctor (err.. mechanic) did. It was early, so we were both tired, but by 9:30 a.m. she was all lubed up and her shoes felt like new (oil, tires, duh.)

If it hadn’t been for that countdown, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to get the oil changed and, if she weren’t still so new (2015 Honda Fit) I may not even bother rotating the tires.

This is my first “nice” car, which I make some hefty-ish payments on, and I’m used to taking care of my vehicle ailments the duct-tape way. My previous vehicles were all beaters, hoopties, costing $500 or less. I learned how to change my own oil and my own tires from my brother, who usually worked on my cars (sometimes it was a boyfriend).

When I moved to North Carolina, though, my at-home mechanics were no longer at my home and, after months of pulling over to put water in my radiator and keeping my windows rolled down in order to open the doors from the inside, I had had enough. I needed something more reliable, I needed an “adult” car.

Not totally adult, though. I drove six hours in each direction to find a purple one, or “Passion Berry Pearl,” with leather seats. If you’re going to make a purchase like that, you might as well get what you want. To me, this is my forever car (or as long as she can last. She already has over 40,000 miles on her), so I have to do my best to take good care of her.

And she’s constantly reminding me of that.

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. Jersey Girl runs every other Sunday. Follow her on Twitter at @RiaSestito or email her at


Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working at as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC. S