IT HAS been almost a year since the accident that destroyed my beloved EJ Holden, and I still think about it every damn day. I havenít been able to muster will to move the car or do anything to it, though it has been fair to say Iíve had a bit on my plate with home stuff and extra responsibilities at work.

The experience has made me a more cautious cat with my personal safety, but the biggest take-away is that you need to listen to your car. Although weíd serviced the EJ before that fateful night, there was a slight miss that showed itself just once afterwards. It was that same miss that ultimately made the car stall on the Monash Freeway and become a sitting duck.

I should have listened to what the car was telling me and either rip the EJ to pieces to find the source, or pull the pin on the trip. But hey Ė old Holdens are always coughing and farting. The miss would clear itself for sure.

So instead of paying attention to my car and looking after it before my road trip, I instead got on with Very Important tasks like cleaning up our warehouse at work. Which, in the grand scheme of things, was not very important at all. What a dummy.

However, Iím a bit wiser and Iím here to tell the tale. My partner and I have bought our first house, so for the first time in my life, I have a permanent place to store my cars, bikes and car mags. That feels pretty good.

And while Iím bummed about the EJ, Iím beginning to realise that it also isnít that important when you look at the big picture. The car was a huge part of my life and even my identity, but it wasnít me. I had a lot of fun in it, but that pales in comparison to the things I still want to do with my life.

Iím getting to the age where Iím losing some of my older car mates to various bastard diseases, and the stupid thing is that theyíre often gone too early because the boys didnít listen to their bodies Ė just like I didnít listen to the EJ.

None of us like going to the doctor, but if your body is flashing warning lights at you, youíd be a plonker not to take notice. Fixing any problem uncovered is likely to be unpleasant, inconvenient, expensive and possibly painful, but if it keeps you active longer and buys you more time with your loved ones, thatís gotta be worth it.

The dumb thing is, most of my mates look after their cars much more carefully than they look after themselves. Diabetes, depression and the various forms of cancer arenít going to get better if you ignore them.

So if you canít sleep, arenít breathing too well, have put on a heap of weight, are pissing blood (seriously!) or are generally just feeling a bit shit and itís not going away, for chrissakes talk to some mates about it and then go and see the quack.

You mightnít get the news you want to hear, but at least youíll have options and a chance to give yourself more valuable people time to do you the love. things s that you like with the people you love.