Monday, September 21, 2009
Car repair made easier
MARK’S ARTICLE – September 21, 2009 “And, the fourth worst driving distraction is…”
WAITING ROOM -- I’ll tell you right up front, I would not be here with you if you were the one waiting for your car to get repaired. You readers are just nicer than nice. I’m beyond flattered. I’m… Give me a second. – I’m the size bigger than Grande flattered. Venti is what I am.
Honestly, I don’t think we’ll be here all that long. They’re just checkin’ my cruise control. It went out after they changed my timing belt last week. You have to loosen up and unplug a buncha stuff to get to a timing belt. I heard that somewhere.
If your timing belt goes out while you’re driving, it will cost a lot more to repair the engine than it will to replace the thing before it goes out. A friend of mine had that happen to him. Thought I’d change mine after 90,000. I think that’s scriptural.
And, no, I don’t know what a timing belt is. I don’t think cars used to have ‘em. Dad never changed ours. To my knowledge. And, the man coulda done it. That was back in the day when you could actually work on a car yourself. I couldn’t, but Dad could. Pretty much.
I really hated it when Dad would crawl out from under the Chevy Biscayne and say, “Mark, I want you to run down to the auto parts and get me a ¾ inch reprometer arm(or something like that). Here’s 10 bucks. That oughtta cover it.”
Inside I was screaming, “Nooooooo!” I never said that to Dad, though. Don’t know for sure what he would’ve done, but it’d probably end up with me uncontrollably flinching the rest of my life. Instead, I’d say, “A reprometer arm? And, at the auto parts they’ll know what I’m asking for?” – “Sure. Go!”
The guys at the auto parts acted like they never knew what I was asking for. Either that or they just enjoyed giving me a hard time. They’d ask me a hundred questions. Questions about ratios, valve clearance, vacuum pressure, differential gap… Stuff that would bring tears. But, I had to come up with answers on the spot. Dad would expect it. I’d eventually come home to get yelled at. “What th—What is this? Doesn’t even look like a reprometer! Do you see an arm on this thing?”
I wanted to say, “Dad, we go through this every time. When will you learn not to send me?” But, you never questioned Dad’s reasoning. I guess he was thinking something about a roomful of monkeys typing out the Gettysburg Address. Something like that.
At one time I think I made four trips before bringing back the right part. Dad could’ve done it in one trip. I guess he was trying to teach me something. Humility? Like I didn’t already reek of it.
That’s pretty much why, over the years, I never tried to repair my car. No confidence. Oh, I once tightened a flywheel on my LeMans, and put shocks on my old pickup. I even adjusted a carburetor once. Cars don’t have carburetors anymore. They’ve got… something else.
Today’s cars are so complicated that you need a computer to figure out what’s wrong. That’s why I always take my car back to the dealership. They’ve got the right computers with the right codes. You’ve gotta have the codes. I have no idea what that means.
Right now they’re just looking at my cruise control. I’ve gotta have it. Do you have any idea how many speeding tickets I’d have without cruise control? That was rhetorical. Quit guessing. You were way low, anyway.
Before the advent of cruise control, my speed varied depending on what I was thinking while driving. If I thought about an action movie, I drove fast. Plumbing jobs made me go slow. A visit to Hobby Lobby would occasionally have me pulling to the side of the road.
What you’re supposed to do if you don’t have cruise control, is to pick a car that’s going about the right speed and plant your bumper on it’s tail. I read that on “Hints from Heloise.” Probably. If everyone tried that, the first guy on the freeway would set the speed for the entire day.
What reaction do you have when you see someone driving while talking on his or her cell phone. Makes you wanna kick ‘em doesn’t it. I’d be on the list of kickees, ‘cause I’ve sure done it. Fortunately, I’m smart enough to do it.
Of course, I’d rather people their phones while driving than do it in the waiting room. Listen to that lady. She acts like she’s talking to someone through a wall. Do you have any change or fruit I could throw at her? You sure?
Text messaging is also bad when you’re driving. It’s the third worst driving distraction. It’d take both hands and a bare right foot for me to text message. My nephew, C.J., can drive, talk, point and check the glove compartment while texting. He’s got a gift. It’s called a guardian angel.
By the way, the fourth most hazardous distraction while driving is blowing your nose. Takes both hands and requires focusing. Fourth worst. I doubt anybody has proved it. Big Al and I plan to prove it on one of our “From the Rooftop” episodes soon to be appearing on a local computer network. I’ll try driving while on the phone, while text messaging, while eating a burger, driving with kids in the car, while blowing my nose… eventually, while doing all at once. Hey, I can’t wait to see this. Probably should have Al try it..
Oh, and since we’re here at a car dealership, I think I’ll mention a car and bike show that’s coming up this Saturday (Sept 19). It’s being held to celebrate and support the efforts of the Texas Honor Ride. They’re the motorcyclists who accompany funeral processions of our fallen soldiers, and who are committed to helping “wounded warriors and their families.”
At the car show there will also be Frisbee dogs (little flat puppies), helicopters, live bands, food… a bunch of stuff, including Big Al and me. It’ll be eight in the morning to five in the p.m. at West Conroe Baptist Church, the corner of Longmire and Loop 336 North. Big place.
I have every confidence you’ll be there, ‘cause you showed up here in the waiting room of the car dealership. And, let me tell you, I’m blown away by it. Tearing up, even. And, it has nothing to do with what it cost to get my timing belt replaced. Hey, I don’t even know what it is.