Wednesday, January 2, 2008


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Topping Off the Tank? You Might Want to Think Twice

Why is it that we want to squeeze every tiny drop of precious fuel into the gas tank before we call it quits. I saw a guy the other day who was literally bending his knees to peer into the dark gas filler hole between lightning fast squeezes of the pump trigger. I guess it was worth it, he probably got an extra 1/20 gallon in the tank. That'll buy him an extra mile or so before he has to perform his bizarre gas dance all over again.
Sure, risking soaked clothing for the sake of an extra 25 cents in the tank seems ludicrous when you think about it. Besides the obvious loss of cool points, there are some real issues that can arise from repeatedly overfilling your fuel tank. The parts of your fuel system that are supposed to be soaking in gas 24-7 are designed and formulated to do their job for years. But the parts that aren't supposed to soak in it - things like your fuel filler tube or the rubber seal where the filler meets the chassis - can suffer from continual saturation. If you're a green thinker, think about all of the gas that evaporates into the atmosphere thanks to spills and overflows. It's a real thing. There are also components of your emissions control system that will be damaged if the come in contact with gasoline.
You don't have to take it from me. The Tappet Brothers over in Boston speak the truth, along with about 40 minutes of relationship advice, when it comes to car stuff. Everyone wants to see what they have to say. I'm still waiting for Click and Clack to get back to me about how to get the phone number of the girl who works near the windshield washer fluid at the New Baltimore rest area ...

Complaining About Your Shop's Diagnostics Charges?

On your way to work Wednesday morning, your car starts to stutter, spit and sputter, then dies at the traffic light. Next light, same coughing, car stalls, you begin to rage. You've noticed a band of wild monkeys trailing you, so on a hunch, you get out of the car to check things out, but it turns out not to be the banana-in-the-tailpipe trick. Would've been a cheap fix.
Time to take your car to the shop. So you leave your steed in the trusted hands of your local independent repair shop (since you gave up on the dealer years ago). Your mechanic calls the next day to inform you that all the drama was caused by a broken connection in the wiring to your #2 oxygen sensor. He says you're lucky, it'll be a 5-minute fix. But when you pick your car up the bill is $240. "What the @*#!?" you're thinking. "Why am I paying $240 for a 5-minute repair?!!!"
Settle down. Hold your horses, take a powder, count to 10 -- whatever works. You're forgetting that you walked into the repair shop with a giant question mark over your head. Your mechanic, who has years of experience and participates in expensive continuing education classes to stay up on technology, figured it out for you. And it didn't take 5 minutes to diagnose, either! He spent more than 2 hours on the diagnosis alone. That's 2 hours he didn't spend replacing Mrs. Grimley's alternator. So is his time worthless? Come on. Stop complaining. Your car's fixed, and $240 is cheap these days.
What about those monkeys? Those hungry little critters chasing you down the street were a different breed of primate -- service writers from your local dealership. Good thing you got those monkeys off your back.

Used Auto Parts May Be Than You Think

You an save a lot of money buying used parts for your repair. Of course, it's important to know which parts are ok to buy used, but there are plenty of them. Unfortunately, thinking about saving the money is as far as many people get. The thought of standing at a greasy counter while the assorted varieties of parts pullers check you out might not be your idea of a great way to start you auto repair weekend. So instead you break down and pay the extra cash for a brand new tail light or power window motor.
Times are a-changin.' These days you can order a used turn signal from the comfort of your living room. Thanks to services like the Automix Parts Locater you can effectively search hundreds of salvage yards at once. Order your part from one of the search results (after you see who will give you the best price of course!) and it will appear at your door. This method of buying parts won't always fit your situation. For sudden and serious repairs most people won't want to wait at the mailbox for their part, but when time is on your side you can take advantage and save both time and money.