Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More on car dealerships

Car dealerships are great places to get your car repaired. Because when you go there, it is guaranteed that not only will your car's real problems be taken care of, but its imaginary ones as well. And seriously, lets be realistic here, those pesky imaginary problems are the ones that are so hard to pinpoint and fix. It's wonderful how, when you enter the place with a specific goal in mind, say, to get a quote on an oil change or to get your annual emissions test done, it is almost impossible to escape from it without purchasing new tires, a new transmission, new brake pads, new seats and a new steering wheel. And once you are done paying for all those things, you will also need to purchase a new wallet, one that is made of heavier material that will compensate for the new-found buoyancy of your previous one. But it all starts with the check engine light.

The check engine light is a ground-breaking invention that was meant to generate employment for thousands of Americans who, otherwise, would have had to depend on government hand-outs for a living. It is a product of the historic "Check-Engine Light" Act that was passed during the great American depression by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also known as FDR or F-Drive to his homies. FDR was a car mechanic by profession before he ascended to the presidency. During the depression, he recognized the imperative need to provide a jumpstart to the stagnating economy by putting people to work on projects that weren't really necessary, but which would generate employment and provide millions of Americans with living wages. One such project was the Hoover dam. The other was the "Check Engine Light" Act. FDR was shrewd enough to recognize that car ownership among Americans was about to explode in a big way. He therefore signed the "Check-Engine Light" Act into law, which required that all auto companies incorporate a hidden device into all their vehicles that would periodically activate and light up a small forbidding icon shaped like a leaky tap on the dashboard of the vehicle.

The meaning of this icon was deliberately left ambiguous in order to provide fuel to every paranoid car owner's feverish imagination. The Act also specified that once the check engine light was activated, it was mandatory for the car owner to visit his local dealership immediately, without any delay, accept the diagnosis unquestioningly and pay up the requisite amount. FDR's vision of the future proved to be prophetic and remains relevant upto this day. Most people do not realize it but it is FDR's legacy of wealth distribution via the check engine light that is responsible for America's booming economy and high standard of living of its citizens. Everyday, its periodic demonic blink sends millions of car owners rushing to their dealerships, thus leading to an infusion of cash into the economy and it's subsequent growth.

But enough about how great car dealerships are. They also have a dark side. Car mechanics have a tendency to treat vehicles under their care with great tenderness and attachment. What, you might ask, is the problem here? Wouldn't I want my mechanic to give my car the attention it deserves, you might add. The fact is, the mechanic doesn't stop at this. The problem arises when he proceeds to adjust all the settings on your car, rendering it entirely alien to your driving habits. It's as if the mechanic, for the few hours he is forced into the confines of your car's interior, refuses to make the adjustment to his new environment and instead, decides to make the car adjust to him by going on a settings-changing spree. The seat is pushed back. The steering wheel goes higher. The mirrors are rotated. The wiper speed is reset. All your favorite radio stations disappear. Your cds are rearranged in the cd changer. The body in your trunk is taken out, given a bath and issued a fresh set of clothes. And finally, once your car's done and you are behind the wheel again, it feels like you've never driven this vehicle before. The next few weeks are spent trying to get used to this vehicle from hell.

You know, it's like if you're an apartment maintenance technician and you are on an assignment to declog a resident's toilet and in addition to performing that task, you reset his thermostat, reprogram his television channels, throw away all his bedsheets 'cause they don't agree with your sense of fashion, go out and buy him new bedsheets, make him a roast turkey dinner but use your mom's recipe, not his, replace his regular condoms with the ones that are ribbed for her pleasure and then, finally, you exit his place with the satisfaction of a job well done. I should try that on my mechanic. It's time the shoe goes on the other foot.


zambezi said...

did you know that i have had a check engine light for the past 50,000 miles. i was shit scared when it came up and went to the mechanic. he informed me that the catalytic converter was gone and all. my ex room mate said that it was ok to drive it and i would have to get it repaired only before i went for the emission test and hence, i didnt get it repaired.sometime last week, the check engine light got tired and disappeared after a whole year and a half. i won

gawker said...

My check engine light meant my air flow meter was gone, my air flow hose had a crack and my throttle needed cleaning. It will be a good month for Fred Beans Volkswagen.

Anonymous said...

I think its everything but the engine. My geo had the engine light up and the mechanic said it was a "sensor" gone wrong. My bmw had its engine light go up when once i didnt close the gas cap properly. That went out by itself in 2 days.
Onthe contrary my friends toyota engine started smoking on the highway for the lack of oil, and the engine light was a.ok.

zambezi said...

i didnt know you had a BMW. slime apparenlty is making good money.

CAR said...

heheh, I too had the same problem as Zambezi. However I brought the engine check light under submission within a week of care free commuting. I too have to replace my CAT but until then I just smirk at the "Low Emission Vehicle" sticker on my rear window.
Seriously though, I have known of cases where engines have stalled on the Highway.

Anonymous said...

My Prelude's 'check engine light' came on around 120k. Took the car to a local chinese mechanic and he said it must be an electrical issue and asked me not to worry about it. (yes guys like him do exist).

Being in California, the car has to pass stringent emissions test and has done so without any problems. Now at 160k and still humming along nicely.

The engine check light lights up if I hit a pot-hole or a bump and then disappears after a while.

Anonymous said...