How to break an auto tech’s heart

When your car conks out, whom do you blame? Yourself? Of course not! You

Hand it over!

Hand it over!

blame whoever made it or whoever takes care of it under the hood.

Let me tell you, whoever takes care of it says choice things about you, too. I once was assigned to find out which problems auto techs felt were most inflicted on them by owners. You may be surprised that it wasn’t customers who demand an over-the-phone diagnosis; owners whose cars are so dirty, they could plant grass on the hood; or customers who curse them when a tired, old car needs a major fix.

To be sure, from the customer’s perspective, maintenance and repairs aren’t cheap. So neglect and avoidance kick in. Little problems become big, the costs go up — sometimes way up, until the customer nearly believes the mechanic moonlights in the garage of the devil himself.

Most auto techs have hearts, however, and here are a few of the ways customers break them. Here, too, are ways to keep your wallet intact while loving the person who looks after your wheels’ welfare.

Never change or check the motor oil.

What it is: Motor oil lubricates the engine and removes contaminants, such as teeny-weeny bits of metal that can cause big damage over time. Engines do bad things when they have low or no oil.

What to do: Change the oil yourself or have it changed at the mileage suggested in the car’s owners manual – usually 3,500 miles. Check the oil level every week by pulling out the dipstick, wiping it with a clean rag, More

When road-rage nuts come loose

[Warning: Unladylike language ahead!]


© Michele Piacquadio

The driver in the Cadillac CTS apparently felt entitled to remove my right front fender. At least, that’s how I felt about her cutting in front of me, right behind the car I let in, when she had had a quarter-mile to merge to the left.

I laid on the horn long and loud. Behind rolled-up windows, I called her an idiot. Then I called her a rude, f-cking idiot, mouthing the words straight ahead so she could see them on the fat chance that she ever checked her mirrors. I wanted her to know she had done something dumb. To me, she was only another self-centered, oblivious Real Driver of South Orange County. A half-mile later, I turned into the parking lot at my destination. The Cadillac went straight – or so I thought.

When I got back to my car, there was a note under a windshield wiper, a page ripped out of a pocket-size spiral-bound pad. The irregular handwriting said:

“You drive like shit.

“I bet you do The Zipper.

“I bet you need a hug.”

Three sentences, each one a little cooler. Good. I felt glad to be of therapeutic service. It was plenty creepy, though, to think that the driver was nutty More

What day is it?

November 2022