My Car’s In Trouble, And I Need Your Help

Help Louis Get Back On The Road!


My car is my transportation so I can work, but she’s also the only home I have. And she’s in dire need of repairs I simply can’t effect, either physically or financially.

A year ago, I found myself without a place to live. With no better options, I got rid of most everything I owned, packed my camping gear, my bike gear, and my photography gear into a 17 year old Volkswagen Passat, and drove away. I began exploring the country, more than half of which I’d never seen, doing photoshoots wherever I could along the way to keep the wheels rolling and food in my belly. I still don’t live anywhere, and that old Passat and I have traveled almost 40,000 miles together since the beginning of February 2017. She’s been a fucking champ.

We started out in North Carolina and first went to the snowy Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania, then on to Philly, DC, and back to the Carolinas. We’ve traveled to Florida three times, and the bayous and forests of Louisiana twice. She was with me when I went skinny dipping in the Colorado River outside of Austin and she got rear-ended on the way to the Nature Preserve there. She carried me to the desert of Big Bend National Park in Texas and we visited the Rio Grande. She was with me atop Mount Lemmon, Phoenix, Los Angeles, protected me from three different bears in Sequoia National Forest, saw the Pacific Ocean near Big Sur, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge with me. She took me to Devil’s Tower, Montana, North Dakota, and Mount Rushmore. We chased the Aurora in Minnesota and nearly got washed down the creek in West Virginia. Through it all, she just kept chugging along, getting me where I needed to go, and making sure I got there safely and on time. I’ve come to love my old car.

But now she needs your help. She’s not getting any younger, and she’s starting to need some maintenance and repairs to continue along with me. I suppose I could try and raise enough money to get a newer car to carry on my journey, but after all we’ve been through together, I just can’t let her go so easily. She and I are like old friends now, and I have to do what I can for her.

She needs a timing belt replacement, which includes a water pump, cam and cranks seals, and various other things done while the engine is open, which will also stop the major oil leak that’s causing most of the other engine problems. It’s supposed to be done every 70,000 miles. It’s been 130,000. That’s going to cost about $2,000.

She needs oxygen sensors, which have failed most probably due to the leaking oil situation, along with plugs and wires. She’s got a short in the brake light switch, the airbag switch, the dash lights.

She needs new control arms, part of the suspension of the car (steering and braking stuff).

She needs a new pump for the windshield washer.

All totaled, she needs about $4,000 worth or repairs to get her safe and reliable to drive again.

And on top of that, she’s got no heat, and needs a new heater core to fix that. That’s going to cost about another $1800, but that’s a much lower priority than the safety and reliability issues above.

To that end, some friends of mine very generously started a GoFundMe drive to collect the money I need to get her road-worthy again. I can’t stress enough how wonderful they are! Thank you Crista and Caz for stepping up and stepping in to help! I love you both with all my heart!

If you’ve got a few dollars you can spare to help, I’d be eternally grateful for your kindness and support. If I can’t get her running safely and reliably again, I don’t know what I’m going to do.


Please donate to the GoFundMe to Help Louis Get Back On The Road!


I’ve considered trying to raise the money to get something newer, but here’s the deal. Let’s say this fundraiser raises the $4000 that it intends to, but I put it toward a newer vehicle. Surely a $4000 vehicle would be a better and more reliable option, right? Well, maybe, but I wouldn’t be able to get a $4000 vehicle. I’d have to pay for title and tags and registration and state inspection and all that jazz. Plus pay for a mechanic to inspect the car, and run all the check-engine-light codes. And then I’d still have all the readily-apparent repairs to pay for. And that doesn’t even address all the things that might be wrong with the car that aren’t readily apparent, or viewable upon inspection, even by a mechanic. And I’d have to hold money back to address all of that. So that $4000 might buy me a $2000 car, that might or might not run for another year.

On top of that, I no longer have a NC address, which means I’d have to establish residency in, say, Maryland. My insurance would skyrocket, and I’m already just scraping by each month.

I don’t want to go through all this crap again, only to find out six months from now the transmission is on its last legs, or the pistons are shot, or whatever. After driving my car 40,000+ miles over the last year, I know my car, I know what’s wrong, and I know what has to be done to fix her up and get her rolling again. I’m keeping the car I’ve got.

And I really need your help.


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Louis Shackleton is a boudoir, portrait, art, event, and wildlife photographer formerly based in Wilmington, NC and now traveling the continent in his 2001 VW Passat named Gypsy.

Head on over to the About page to read more about him and his work.

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