This week’s post is a lighthearted answer to the question: What if we treated our cars the way we treat our bodies? Please note that this is a satirical post and does not represent actual events.
About a week ago I noticed that my car wasn’t starting up quite as easily as it used to. Then one day it wouldn’t start at all, and I had to get a jump start. I took it to the mechanic, who said it needed a new battery. I thanked the mechanic and said I wanted to get a second opinion.
The next day I mentioned the problem to a friend at the gym. She said “Oh, I’ve heard about how the battery industry encourages mechanics to always say it’s the battery. You should stop using gas and switch to bio-diesel fuel. It’s better for the environment and it is more efficient.”
I thought I might switch to bio-diesel the next time I filled up, but meanwhile, I wanted to get more input. When I was leaving work for lunch the next day, one of my co-workers noticed that it was slow to start. “I know of some great gas tank additives that would fix that. Would it be OK if I stop by your house later to show them to you?”
I try to keep an open mind, so I gave him my address and asked him to stop by at 5:30. When he showed up, he had a briefcase full of little bottles of RocketCar fuel additives. He explained how the fuel companies try to keep us in the dark and how the RocketCar company has figured out their secrets. He said my car would run amazingly on RocketCar and that I could spread out my payments over 6 months if I wasn’t able to afford the whole package right away. He pointed out that it might seem like a lot of money, but think how much Big Fuel was sucking out of me every month.
This made a lot of sense, so I bought the RocketCar and put some in the tank. The next day, my car was still a little sluggish to start, but I was pretty sure the engine sounded smoother once it was running. But then later it wouldn’t start in the parking lot outside the hardware store and I had to get a jump start.
When I got home I posted on Facebook about how my car was having a hard time starting. I was really just venting, but a woman I had gone to high school with chimed in. She posted this picture, which really made it all seem clear to me.
A few minutes later she came back and posted the name of an alternative physics garage in my area. She suggested I go see them because she was pretty sure they would be able to figure out what was really going on, because unlike regular garages, they weren’t so gullible about Big Battery and Big Fuel.
The next day I went to see the alternative physics garage. The mechanic there said that it was obvious that my car was starting slowly because of sludge. He said that the only way to fix it was to clean out the fuel system and engine entirely. He handed me a list of instructions and said to follow the steps exactly, and come back in a week for the next step, which would include draining all the oil and driving with a dry engine in order to recondition it. He promised I would see results very soon, including a lot of black smoke from the exhaust pipe. He said the black smoke would be proof that the cleanse was working.
That afternoon, I started doing the cleanse. It was going to be so great to know that my car was clean on the inside, as well as the outside. The instructions said to drive the car until the fuel ran out, then roll the car down a long hill with the engine off. It was kind of complicated, figuring out how to arrive at the top of a hill right as the fuel was completely depleted, but I finally got it right. At the top of Suicide Hill, with the tank completely empty, I took my foot off the brake and started rolling. With the engine off the steering and brakes were very sluggish. I almost mowed down a line of mailboxes, but I was able to steer clear at the last minute. Wow, this car-cleanse stuff was hard, but if this is what I needed to do to heal my car, I was all in.
At the bottom of the hill I realized I was 10 miles from home, and out of gas. I fished my gas can out of the trunk and set out in search of a gas station. It was getting late, and I really wanted to be at home, but hey, no one said car-health was easy. Remembering what my gym friend had told me, I decided to try bio-diesel. I was in luck – the first station I found had it.
After the initial cleanse, and fueled up with 2 gallons of bio-diesel, my car started right up. Wow! This was really working! I put the car in gear and headed towards home, really pleased with myself that I hadn’t fallen for the manipulations of Big Battery and Big Fuel.
Then the “check engine” light came on and the engine sputtered. The car jerked forward a few times, then abruptly cut off. I called the alternative physics garage but they had left for the day. Thinking the problem might have been caused by RocketCar, I called my RocketCar representative, but when I told him I had started the cleanse and then put diesel in my car, he scolded me for going off-plan and suggested he come by later with his line of purification additives.
Finally, in desperation, I called my original mechanic and had the car towed in. They kept the car overnight. The next day they flushed out the bio-diesel and cleaned the injectors. They said the damage wasn’t too bad since the engine ran for such a short time. I was confused about why the cleanse didn’t seem to help, so I asked about the sludge. They showed me a cutaway model of an engine and explained that they have a mechanism for collecting and isolating any sludge that might get into the system.
They also showed me how the tolerances within the engine were so tight that if there really had been a bunch of sludge running around loose it would have seized up a long time ago. Finally they asked if I wanted a new battery. Feeling a mixture of relief and chagrin I said yes. When I started my car to leave, it fired up immediately – just like it was new again.
That was a good read. Two of my kids are master Toyota technicians. They attended the 2 year Toyota trade school right out of high school and have been mechanics for about 10 years now. One of them has his own successful business. He prides himself on being a good diagnostician, not a parts-swapper. Occasionally a customer or a “good with cars” friend of a customer will debate the causes of a problem and suggest their own theories. Unfortunately they’re mostly wrong. My son’s now standard answer to these helpful people is; “Well, or it could be ghosts. Once evil spirits get in to your car its really difficult to get them out. We’ll probably have to replace every system in the vehicle until the evil is completely eradicated. Or, you could trust the science behind automotive engineering, and some simple logical deductions, and go with our suggestions. Of course its your choice.”
Bill, I think I would like going to your son’s garage. Sounds like a smart kid.
Jennifer, this is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time. The funny side of life for the normal (or not so normal) things we do. lol Great post!