- Cynthia, a banker, asks why her car makes a funny noise when she turns sharply to the left, but not to the right, and it only happens when she leaves her driveway in the morning. The rest of the day it's quiet.
Answer: Cynthia, noises like this are usually impossible to diagnose and are probably not serious. If it continues to worry you, you might try backing into your driveway, so that you turn right instead of left when you leave in the mornings. Seriously though, if it gets worse, you may have to take it to someone else, because a banker colleague of yours from Nigeria just emailed me that I have inherited $20 million Congolese Krugerands or something, so I'm retiring tomorrow.
- Kevin, an ardent mountain climber, complains that his all-wheel drive Range Rover stalls out when he has it in a steep incline. He says it runs fine otherwise.
Answer: Kevin, your car has a fear of heights. Don't force it to climb. Be gentle, park it on level ground, and you do the climbing. I have a question for you, Kevin. I can almost understand why people would want to climb mountains. Because it's there, overcoming an obstacle in your path, etc., but why would anyone tackle the more difficult side of a mountain? Where does that end? Avoiding the good footholds? Climbing with one hand tied behind your back? Perhaps my lack of understanding is why I live in Florida. I can climb every mountain in Florida with no hands.
- Murray, a musician at a local bar, complains that his VW van doesn't want to start when he gets off his last gig at midnight. It's OK during daylight hours. He thinks it's a humidity problem. Murray, a liquid is definitely involved with your problem. If it is like every VW I have known, the trick is to mash the gas pedal four and a half times, turn the key on and crank it for two seconds, then wait ten seconds, then crank with the pedal on the floor, and it may start. If it wants to. To help you count to four and a half at midnight, have your drummer set a cadence. I have a question for you. What is up with the lyrics to "A Horse With No Name"? "Where there ain't no-one for to give you no pain." What? Let's see, if "there ain't no-one", then there must be someone, "for to give you" oh forget it. You know what they call a musician who loses his girlfriend? Homeless. Keep the VW van. You can sleep in it.
- John the mechanic complains that they took away his driver's license because he was behind in his child support payments, which makes it nearly impossible to work to make those payments. Where's the justice in that, he asks, and how can he survive this? We're talking about laws made up by the same people who mandated seat belts, but not motorcycle helmets in Florida. Justice and logic seem to share the same priority with our lawmakers. John, anyone can drive a boat of any size at any speed with no license required of any kind, which makes no sense either, so you should get a mechanic job at a marina, and a waterfront apartment, and drive a boat to work. Man, this advice stuff is easy.
- Doctor Bob, a local chiropractor whom we meet socially on occasion, asked me why I never talk shop when I'm out. Our construction worker friends used to talk shop constantly, back when they were employed. Doc, what would happen if you started asking people you meet socially, "How are you?" I can hear the answers now. "Oh, well, actually I have this pain in my back when I do this" and so forth. All doctors learn this quickly. So did I. I'm not much help with back pains, so I can ask how they are, but I really don't want to keep going out in the parking lots to listen to their cars. I hope you understand. It lets my beer get warm.
To those of you who enjoy learning something about cars with each column, I apologize.