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The Rules Of Physics - Rules are rules, however physics isn't one of those rules you can break...but customers still ask you too.


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The Rules of Physics

         There’s something to be said about having rules.  There are some rules we follow because they’re laws, and rules we all follow out of respect, because it’s the polite thing to do.  While other rules are just common sense.  However, as they say, “Rules are made to be broken”.  That may apply to most rules, but the rules of physics are not something that can be tampered with, although some people think they can.  Here’s my list of customer antics that definitely require a refresher course in basic physics.

         Rotational differences in an arc

         A customer asks for an oil change and a tire rotation.  After the tire rotation the customer is out in the parking lot examining their car.  He motions for the mechanic to come out and look at the car.  For some reason he is livid about the valve stems and white lettering on his tires.  Apparently the letter or the valve stems aren’t in perfect sync as they were when he arrived. Obviously, the mechanic is at fault and needs to correct it. Somebody contact my physics teacher.

         Gravity and the defrost duct

         In the haste to get ready for a special dinner party a diamond ring was laid on top of the dash.  In a flash the diamond ring slid down into the defrost duct and was gone, completely out of sight. The next day the mechanic was told to gently tip the car over and shake the diamond ring out.  Yep, just lift the car up, toss it upside down, and that little ring will just fall out, and since gravity is your friend the ring should just fall out.  I’m just wondering whose holding the car upside down… the mechanic?

         Coolant can be hot, and don’t let the pressure get to you

         Even with a temperature gauge showing the actual water temp. It’s virtually impossible to get through to some people that you shouldn’t take the radiator cap off a hot engine.  Even in this modern era with plenty of warning labels clearly visible, somebody is going to twist the cap off and get a face full of hot coolant.  Of course, it’s even harder for some people to understand the physic behind how pressure and the coolant mix affects the boiling point of water, or the fact that the radiator is under pressure for quite some time after you shut the car off. Oh, and by the way, water boils at 212° and most car coolant systems run at a much higher temperature than that.

         All brake pads are the same

         Have you ever wondered how much time the engineers and scientists spend on developing brake pad materials? Did you ever stop and think that some of their attempts weren’t the best, but still had some merit? There’s a lot of physic involved.  I’m sure there were a few awesome ideas that still failed to be considered as the top notch part.  So, where do those ideas go? Especially the pads that don’t last as long, or squeal, or chatter, or just plain aren’t that great.  They usually end up as the discount store’s cheaper line of brake pads. 

You know the ones, the ones that have poor heat coefficient, or a glue that breaks down and causes the pad to slide off the backing. Somebody had to wholesale them, somebody had to market them and somebody had to price them to sell. Never fear, Mr. Discount is here!  He’ll buy them up and sell them to the DIY’r market and tell them how wonderful they are.  Not to worry, it’s pretty clear no one in the store knows how to read those DOT edge codes anyway. They’ll find somebody else to blame for their early brake pad failure, it’s surely has nothing to do with their decision to buy the cheapest part.  

         Increasing mileage by decreasing fuel

         Has there ever been a time that the first thing people wanted to know about their new car wasn’t the gas mileage?  When I was a kid, and muscle cars could be purchased right from the showroom there was still that sticker on the window with the miles per gallon clearly visible.

I’m not sure if gas mileage was the big concern, but every crackpot inventor since the beginning of the internal combustion engine thinks they’ve come up with the holy grail of mileage-increasing-fuel-saving device that is going to turn even the biggest gas guzzling muscle car into the next fuel economy giant.  From adding magnets to the fuel lines, to some sort of wind turbulence device stuffed into the cold air inlet.

 The physics dictates the impossibilities that at some point the return on the energy consumed surpasses the rate of energy produced, but on we go with the next grandiose idea to save fuel by some superific idea maker who got it approved by 9 out of 10 experts.  You know the ones, “those experts” ya know.  The same experts you hear about on all those TV commercials.  I’ve often wondered who the 10th expert was and why in the world didn’t they just say 9 out of 9 experts and skip the 10th guy all together. Too presumptuous I suppose.

 Have ya ever noticed these mileage ideas only show when the price per gallon goes up? I guess were all too busy driving around and can’t think up any new fuel saving ideas when the price is low, or we were listening to that 10th expert, and momentarily forgot about the other 9.

For every reaction . . .

One of the laws of physics states that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.  Now it’s not likely if we all stood on a chair and jumped off at the same time that we could disrupt the earth’s rotation or knock it out of alignment with the other planets, but ya know, somebody has probably thought about doing it….  besides myself.

Car crash studies have known about this action reaction thing for a long time, and have found a way to lessen the sudden impact by dissipating the force with crumple zones strategically placed in the body panels and components. This also means that in the event of a minor collision you may actually have damage in other areas of the car that were not directly involved with the actual collision. 

However, there’s a limit to this “inclusion to my collision”.   Hardly a day goes by that somebody at some body shop will try to slide an extra dent or two from an unreported accident in with their latest fender bender.  Some are very subtle, while others are noticeably and blatantly trying to take advantage of the situation. Anything to get somebody else to pay for their lack of watching out for the neighbor’s mailbox which was sticking out from the curb, or the telephone pole that jumped out and creased the side of the car after a late night at the bar. There’s one for the automatous car theory.  If you’ve had too many, who’s the designated driver now? And, whose reaction and actions dictate who’s allowed behind the wheel… if there is one?    

We’ve only scratched the surface of what physics can tell us about our cars.  It never fails to amaze me how some people make it from one day to the next without a basic understanding of the world around them.  They just seem lost in their own little made up world in which gravity doesn’t work, or where two objects can occupy the exact same spot on planet earth. Am I surprised? No, not hardly. Some people will believe anything. It all comes down to physics and your interpretation of the rules, and as we all know, the rules of physics doesn’t apply to some people out there. Just hope they’re not stopping by the shop anytime soon. I need a break from the last one who wanted 13” tires on 15” rims.   

 

        


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