While the metallic 'clank' of parts detaching from the drivetrain of my car and scattering themselves on the freeway behind me was difficult to ignore, the grinding vibrations and complete loss of power to said drivetrain were sure signs that something was amiss. If you haven't heard of CV joints or boots before, I will merely say this: the former is required to transfer power to the wheels at variable angles and the latter protects the former and keeps it in contact with life-giving grease that prevents the joint from, say, disintegrating whilst going 75mph on the freeway. An exciting and well-timed dash across two lanes onto a fortuitously located exit ramp, followed by a bid to maintain enough momentum to actually exit the roadway, landed me on a nice, large area of dirt and gravel twenty miles south of Olympia. Worryingly, I could put the car in gear and let the clutch out all the way without the engine stalling. Further inspection confirmed a broken drive shaft, spinning merrily away to the tune of grinding metal.
If your CV boots, which are rubber covers at each end of the axle, are ever cracked, which tends to happen to them eventually: fix them. Also, if 'roadside assistance' is not part of your auto insurance package, or if you don't have even basic AAA: you should.
Strangely enough, the car actually was at the tail end of a 2000 mile trip through California. It had been mercilessly abused on icy passes and snowy roads, in times of torrential downpour and gale-force wind, in blizzard conditions and on ten-hour stints of non-stop highway driving. For this to be the first time the car has ever really broken down on the road seems miraculous, given that it has made such a trip almost each year since I got it in 2003 or so. Add to that that this catastrophic failure of components was clearly operator error ("sure, I'll get around to those cracked CV boots sometime") and it's undeniable both that the Volkswagen Fox kicks ass and that I am a negligent automobile owner.
Now to pay more than the value of the car to keep it running. I owe it at least that much, don't I?