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Down the Hatch The crazy stuff I’ve found in a gas tank. Never fails, boyfriend dumps girlfriend, girlfriend pours sugar in boyfriend’s gas tank. Girlfriend dumps boyfriend, time for more sugar in the boyfriend’s fuel tank. The actual “who” that does the pouring is up for grabs. Sometimes it’s the boyfriend, sometimes it’s the girlfriend, sometimes it’s that crazy co-worker you worked with, or some wacky protester who just hates gasoline for some reason. Ya just never know, but you can be sure of one thing, somebody, somewhere, is going to pour something into somebody’s fuel tank. Sugar is the ‘go to’ item in most cases. Can’t find the sugar, then find a good substitute. You’re not much on improvising while you’re stressed out about the latest fling who let you down? Not to worry, as long as it’s something that will fit down the filler neck … it’s fair game. Honestly, after all the crazy stuff I’ve found stuffed down the old petrol pipe, I feel like I’m a regular expert on the subject. On occasion, it’s plain dirt that finds its way to the bottom of the fuel tank, but chocolate bars, rice, and flour are all common substitutes when the sugar is running low in the cupboard. The last chocolate bar incident was rather unusual, though. They didn’t bother to take the wrappers off the bars. Nice try. Effective yes, and it did get the car sent to the repair shop, but the repair was minor compared to the sticky mess that it could have been. Maybe next time go for the small bars you get around Halloween, they’ll fit down the filler neck a bit better. Chocolate is always a favorite, especially after Valentine’s Day. You get all those bite size pieces with their gooey centers slowly oozing their way into the fuel tank. Those cherry centers ones, eww… they’re extra messy. Rice on the other hand, well that’s a bit more devious than the traditional sugar stuff-o-matic method. The rice doesn’t really swell in gasoline, it tends to harden like little concrete torpedoes. Flour tends to float, clumps up like badly shaped dough balls, and makes an even bigger mess if it gets into the fuel pump. But, let’s not dwell on just kitchen condiments and baking supplies as the only source for self-satisfaction after a bad relationship or a bit of self-retribution and redemption. Shampoo, liquid soap, shaving cream, and other hygiene products from the bano have made their way to the fuel tank on a few occasions, too. Now, there was this one diesel truck I’d like to mention with a rather gravely problem. It still ran and drove into the shop, but the fuel gauge wasn’t working. However, when the tank wouldn’t hold as much as it used to the owner began to wonder if something was a bit more seriously wrong. There was something wrong all right, the tank was about half full of gravel! It weighed a ton! Dropping the tank was a lesson in dealing with a ‘live’ load and how to balance a fuel tank that couldn’t be completely drained on a precarious tranny jack. Imagine my surprise when I finally got a chance to look inside the tank and saw this guy’s driveway soaking in diesel fuel. The owner thinks it was his grandkids helping him out. Nice try kids. Any other truck would have had a screen in the filler neck or some sort of check ball, but not this one. Now with these DEF systems there’s a whole new problem to deal with. Put the wrong fluid down the wrong filler neck and you could be in for a huge repair bill. Generally these types of problems aren’t from your old girlfriend or boyfriend, but they could be. Maybe, they’re just trying to be helpful. Then, you find out they’re color blind, and they can’t tell the difference between the green and blue labels. Uhm, my bad. (Yea, likely story) Now, if it’s on one of those newer Dodge trucks… there’s no colored coded fuel cap anyway. To make matters worse, the urea mix is acidic and isn’t all that friendly to the paint. How wonderful is that!? Sticks, plastic straws, wire, and the occasional siphon hose have all been a source of amusement at the repair shop when it comes to what you can find at the bottom of a fuel tank. You’d think that little baffle and the check ball would stop most of these intrusions. Actually, I think they just create a new spot for things to get stuck and plug up the entire works. Occasionally these types of fuel tanks end up at the shop anyway, regardless of some foreign object being inserted in the filler neck, or not. They have a tendency of leaving their owners standing at the pump holding the fuel nozzle on the first click, because if they tried any faster the pump would just shut off. You’d think in this advanced electronic age, somebody would invent an anti-ex-boyfriend/girlfriend fuel tank early warning system because the locked gas cap just ain’t doing the trick. Oh it will stop a few, but the true sabotage master will find a way to pry that door open or rip it off the hinges. Locking gas caps are only there to urge on the saboteur. Nothing will stop them when revenge is at the helm; they’ll do whatever it takes to get the dastardly dead done. If nothing else, how about a sugar detector checker. Something that would verify the quality of the fuel before you take off for work in the morning. Or how about some sort of electronic system that would sense any foreign material slipped into the fuel tank, and send whatever it is into a separate holding tank. Then when you get home you could unload the unwanted intruder, identify it, maybe even determine who the culprit is, and take care of business without a trip to the repair shop. Wishful thinking I’m sure. Well, there is one alternative to all of this. If you’re in a relationship with a seemingly psychotic person, you have a grumpy neighbor who’s been eyeballing the fuel door on your car, or you’re the type of person who generally pisses people off for no apparent reason and you live extremely close to a sugar factory … well then…by all means… do yourself a favor… buy an electric car instead.
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Old is New
What’s the main reason for trading in that old piece of iron with four wheels? Hands down, its repair costs. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone come into the repair shop and tell me, “Oh, I think I’m going to sell my car this week. I’m not happy with the color.” Excluding the obvious reasons for getting rid of your iron steed, such as it was in an accident and is beyond repair, company cars, and leased vehicles or over worked rentals. That stills leaves a large number of cars simply traded in for untold reasons. Chances are it’s because something needed repaired and the previous owner didn’t want to deal with it.
So, how did most of these cars end up needing such costly repairs? Number one, lack of maintenance. Number two, lack of expertise in repairing and maintaining them, or a combination of both. Then again, you could have just forgotten to have the car checked out on a regular basis. You might be one of those people who have never read the section in the owner’s manual under “scheduled maintenance”, or assume that maintenance consists of filling the fuel tank up when it’s on empty, and you shouldn’t have to worry about your car until that little light comes on.
But, like a lot of procrastinators, when you finally get around to an oil change and the mechanic comes back with a list of repairs you need to have done, you’re taken aback and can’t imagine how the car you drove into the shop is now in need of such major surgery. Depending on the situation you could be rather calm about it and realize he’s just there to help you, or you could be like the crazed lane swapper who flew by you on the turnpike and consider it a bogus up sell scam and blow the guy off.
Let’s just suppose we’re one of those crazed lane changers who just zooms from here to there with no care as to the condition of the car and see how this scenario plays out at the repair shop. Time passes, maybe a month or two, and sure enough those motor mounts and lower control arm bushing you were warned about have now turned your car into a swimming fish on the highway. However, you’ve let it go and considered the whole thing as “it’s just an old car”. Suddenly one morning while pulling out of the garage, you hear a loud bang as you put it into reverse. Then, a cloud of vapor spews from under the hood. You shrug it off, and head on to work, already running late.
On the way to work you notice the air conditioning isn’t coming on. Now that ranks up there in importance as much as the radio. Better get it into the repair shop, because we all know the air conditioning is way more important than all that stuff the mechanic told you about.
You make an appointment at a different repair shop, (of course) because the first one was rude and tried to up sell you a bunch of things you didn’t need. This ‘new’ shop is unaware of the other issues. All you said to them was, “The air conditioning isn’t working, and I saw smoke coming from under the hood.”
The repair shop checks under the hood. “Well, there’s your problem,” one technicians says to another. The front motor mount has completely sheared off, the rear mount is hanging on by a thread, and the upper wishbone mount is completely useless. As the motor rocked back and forth it eventually snapped the aluminum lines to the air conditioning.
The shop calls the customer and asked if they kept any records from previous repairs, which of course, they do. That would be the jumbled and crumbled pile of papers stuffed into the glove box. Nice…. Eventually, the mechanic finds the invoice showing the declined work and even more news about the lower control arm bushings being bad.
Now, avoiding any regular maintenance and advice from the previous shop has just raised a dilemma. Make these costly repairs…or sell it? At this point, when I’m behind the counter, I hear things like, “If I fix this you know something else is going to wrong.” or “What’s the car going to be worth after I put all this money into it?”, or “Do only part of the repair, ‘cause I’m not going to keep the car very much longer.” And the granddaddy of them all, “I can get it done cheaper down the street.”
Think of it this way, your personal safety and the wellbeing of the people who ride in your car is at the fate of the cheapest made products that in some resemblance bears the likeness of a good quality component. Then, you’re going to have a second rate repair shop perform the repair. Instead of putting your trust into a qualified and certified repair person, who more than likely has a higher labor rate than the rocket scientist you’re planning on taking your car to, you’re willing to risk the safety of others based on your pocket book. What you should be doing is asking, “So what’s the game plan here? What do I need to do right now, and what can I wait on or what should I save up for? I’m trusting you (the shop and the mechanic) to take care of my car.”
The question is: Is this car destined to be an old new car, or is it going to be a used car with problems? Most anything can be maintained and/or repaired back to a new driving condition. There are limitations of course. I’ve seen so many cars being tossed away by their owners due to the costs of repairs. Such as an engine swap or for as little as HID headlights that need replaced. Things do wear out and do need servicing. But, if the maintenance is done on time and every time, and any issues as serious as a new engine that do arise it’s still cheaper than a new car off the show room floor.
Aside from poor workmanship, which is usually associated with cheaper repair shops and cheap parts, a car can be kept in working condition long after the last payment is made. The problem I’ve seen over the years is not too many people are willing to keep up with the maintenance, or worse yet, waste their hard earned repair dollars at those cheaper shops with poor results.
When our friend, the crazed lane changer deems his car beyond repair, its destiny is to the used car lot or auction. Then, it picks up a few new parts and a bit of polish, and is given the new title of program car, pre-owned vehicle or like one used car lot calls them, “Experienced autos”. But, even then you can’t expect it to work like new without doing the maintenance.
All cars are used once they leave the show room. See your local professional mechanic; they can make it right. Old is new when it’s repaired correctly.
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Good evening is anybody using the Yelp pay per click. If so how is it working.
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As the World Turns We are all on a journey through space and time. From the moment we are born we start our travels around a large star we call the sun while the earth spins on its axis and follows more or less a predictable pattern of seasonal changes. As time moves on, we, the human race, (Why is it called a race anyway? Are we in some sort of a hurry?), shapes and molds our environment to suit our needs. We invent things to better our lives, and as we spin through the galaxy, our inventions keep improving. The automobile for example, has evolved and improved with every turn of this big blue marble. So much so, that it tends to leave a lot of people dizzy as to the accomplishments and or the advancements of the modern vehicle. For some folks, putting logical circumstances into reality is just too much for them, especially when it involves their cars. As we make this trek on our little planet, sooner or later you’ll encounter some of these celestial occupants that for one reason or another find all this spinning around just a bit too much for them. It could be from the tilted axis and global rotation or gravity has placed their common sense deep down in some dark place where no one has gone before or ever will. But, you can count on one thing… if they’ve got a car, they’re going to need something serviced, and sooner or later they’ll show up at a repair shop. I’ve seen some pretty strange stuff from time to time. The one thing I can count on is with the next spin of the globe they’ll be another unbelievable galactic traveler at my door. It’s as if the planet has to throw one of these “off kilter” individuals my way just to keep me from getting dizzy myself. Here’s one that still makes me lose my equilibrium. On a rather average day, I thought it was appropriate to mention to the service writer that things have been going to smooth for too long. I was sure something weird should happen pretty soon, because if it doesn’t, all the unused chaos will start to build up until it turns into a gigantic black hole that nothing escapes from. I guess I spoke to soon, sure enough, in walks the next traveler from the world beyond normalcy… it started again. This guy came in with a request from way out there in the outer reaches of space. He said, “I’d like you to add my two cylinders back onto my engine.” (Did ya feel that? I think the earth reversed direction for a second.) “I had them in the car yesterday, but their gone now,” he went on to tell me. At this point I don’t know whether to laugh or stand there and stare in disbelief or grab a hold of something just in case the earth shifted again. Well, curiosity got the best of me; I had to ask, “How is it that you lost two cylinders?” The gentleman stepped up to the counter and in a very authoritative voice said, “The last shop I was at . . . (Slamming his hand on the counter just then.) . . . Stole them!” (It happened again, I swear I felt the earth shutter that time.) Now, I’m pretty sure I don’t keep spare cylinders lying around, and I can’t remember ever removing one let alone two of them. But there’s always a first time for everything. I’m sure I just missed them; they’re probably on the same shelf that I keep the blinker fluid and pre-stretched timing belts on, which is usually kept next to the seat belt glue. The story goes that he had gone to a shop that morning to have his car tuned up. He told them what kind of car he had and they gave him an estimate for it. But, before they even started ordering parts they checked things out. Turns out that it wasn’t a V6 engine as the customer described, but a 4 cylinder engine. The cost of the repair was going to be a whole lot less than the V6 so there wasn’t any point in calling him; they figured he’d get a thrill out of having a much smaller bill than what he was quoted. However, when the owner of this galactic speedster picked his car up he wasn’t at all happy that his car seemed to be shy a couple of pistons. Somehow someway, the earth continued to spin despite this guy’s valiant efforts to cause a major scene in this shops lobby. He really wanted them to put them back. Chaos ensued; finally after the police cleared the seen this guy still wanted a second opinion. So he ended up at my abode. (Why me? Seriously… what kind of gravitational pull yanked this guy across town to my shop?) I tried to straighten this whole thing out. I went as far as checking the VIN for him, and sure enough it showed his car to be a 4 cylinder engine from the factory. There was no getting through to this guy though. His mind was made up no matter what I said. He left in a huff and as far as I know he’s still driving around trying to find someone to install his two missing cylinders. Then there was the guy who dropped off his car off before his vacation. He was going to some far away island country for a little R&R. We were supposed to put a new engine in while he was gone. 3 days after he left I get a call from him. He’s on some highway somewhere in this foreign country talking … Ok … yelling, on the phone that he is following his truck as we speak and wants to know what the heck we are doing so far from the shop. I have no words at this point. I’m on the phone, in the shop, staring at this guy’s truck, in the service bay with a new crate motor dangling from the hoist just about to be dropped in. I can only imagine what this guy is going to do when he catches up to his supposed truck. Must be one of those alter universes this guy was calling from. Oh there’s more… there’s always more. As long as the world spins around the sun they’ll be more. Maybe that’s why it’s called “winding down” at the end of the day. Ah, yes, as the world turns away from the sun and evening approaches it’s a good time to unwind from all these dizzy encounters, a time for contemplation and chance to think of how you can improve things in the future. Enough already, I’m getting dizzy thinking about it all, pour me another sarsaparilla bartender… it looks like it’s going to be another long trip around the sun tomorrow. Click here to view the article
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