Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Completely spoiled....
I come from a family that is mechanically inclined. My father was an airplane mechanic in the Air Force, and two of my three brothers are professional mechanics. You did not grow up in my house without understanding the basics of both the gasoline and diesel-powered engines. I remember sitting around the table after supper while dad drew illustrations of
how it all works. (I also remember the fox, the goose and the bag of corn, but that's another story...)

Back in the day, before cars depended so much on computerization, we did all our own repair work. And if I couldn't get one of my brothers to fix something quickly enough, I was likely to fix it myself. (Yes, I can replace your heater core.) I guess because there was so much "know-how" around, we developed a rather "cheap" attitude towards cars and repairs.

I remember the sense of shock I had when friends took their car in for repair and it cost $400. "So, what did you do?" "We paid them $400 to fix it." "But...that's a $50 part, and it only takes an hour or so to replace paid $400?????" We had a somewhat different decision tree when it came to fixing something.....

Number One - Is it truly broken? Sometimes if you hear an odd noise or think something acts funny it will eventually stop. Now, it's a double-edged sword - you have to know which kind of things are ok to ignore and which ones aren't. Example: Odd rattling under the radio - probably not a problem. Check the ashtray for change. Engine rattling and losing power going up an incline - about to blow a head gasket, do not start out on a road trip. (Ask me how I know.)

Number Two - Does it really need to be fixed?? Just because the car came with, say air conditioning, doesn't mean you really need it. And if it's September, you for sure don't need it for at least 6 months. Don't rush into any wild repairs.

Number Three - How much will it cost to fix? Don't take the first price you get - check several parts suppliers. Don't forget that junkyards have lots of parts available.

Number Four - Really, do you need it? I've never in my life had a fuel gauge fixed. Once it quit working, I've been reliant on my memory to keep track of about how much I have left. My first car didn't have a speedometer - I was instructed to "count the seconds between telephone poles" to estimate my speed. (No, the policeman who stopped me wasn't impressed either.)

Number Five - Which family member is available to fix it? (I always found that starting the repair myself and going until I needed help was effective....)

Number Six - It really HAS to be fixed? Seriously, will the world end if your brights come on every time you signal a left turn?? Toughen up!

How times have changed. My 2003 Buick Rendezvous is in the shop (an actual car repair shop!) getting a new intake manifold and water pump. So I'm driving the family "spare" car - my dad's 1982 Mercedes Turbo Diesel Coupe. Great car - but it has quirks. My brother has fixed the quirk where in order to shut the engine off, you had to open the hood and press the "stop" button. But sometimes it doesn't want to start, and so he came over last night and brought me a piece of wire that I can touch to the top of two screws to bypass whatever switch isn't working and start the engine.

He demonstrated how it worked and then grinned at me....."Just like the old days, eh sis!?" "Yeah, driving a car where everything just works has really spoiled me!!"

(I can explain the fox, the goose and the bag of corn, but only if I have a salt shaker, pepper shaker and small tub of butter.....)


Marie N. said...

Even when you can't do the repair yourself and you have to go to a shop, you will always know enough not to be hoodwinked.

Marie N. said...

I had to go to bed before game 4 ended. When the Tig's tied it up I turned in and I think I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow. The Quipper was happy to wake me with the good news, "The Cards Won last night!" Friday morning.

Designated Knitter said...

Yes, it was quite exciting! Not only did I last through the whole game, it took quite a while to "come down" enough to sleep! In fact, I don't think it's worn off yet - I've been able to stay awake all day so far on only about 4 hours sleep!

One more.....please....

Go Cards!