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Our cars are talking back like teenagers


Two cars often found parked in my garage or driveway have been telling me that there was something wrong with a tire and an oil change was overdue.

Since our home is occupied by my wife, daughter and granddaughter, I am familiar with being told that something is not working properly somewhere. I have started talking to myself, wife Martha has observed several times recently, but she ignores my response that this is done so someone will actually listen to what I have to say.

My daughter mentioned once that a little ominous-looking symbol would pop up on the screen on her dash indicating she should check the left rear tire pressure. I suggested she take the tire gauge I had put in her vehicle and check the pressure on the left rear tire.

Several days later she asked me to check her car. Translation: “It’s low on gas. Please put some gas in the tank and air in the tire.” As I drove to the convenience store for gas, that ominous symbol popped up, indicating I should check the left rear tire.

I checked the tire in question. It was low on air. I aired up the tire. “That ought to do it,” I said to myself. “Seems fine to me.” When I said, “That ought to do it” and “seems fine to me,” I had no idea who I was talking to. I probably uttered a very bad word to no one in particular.

However, a greater concern involved the lack of tread on all four tires. You could read a newspaper through the thin tread.

I obtained bids and quality evaluations on four different brands of tires. She ignored the research, suggesting she would probably just buy the cheapest tires.

Since she has a master’s degree and is licensed by the state as knowledgeable in her chosen profession, I suspected my advice was not wanted or needed. I recalled asking a mechanic once about the warning symbols. He said he usually disconnected them.

However, on Friday evening my wife asked when I was going to change the oil on her car. She usually does not concern herself about such trivial matters. However, she mentioned the warning stated that only “1 percent of the oil life” remained.

Why had she not told me earlier, I inquired? She said she did the preceding weekend, but since I am talking to myself and have a hearing loss, her words of warning obviously went unheeded.

I checked the maintenance records on her car and she was right. An oil change was overdue. Only fools ignore oil changes.

Instead of sleeping late Saturday morning, I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed to the dealership where we bought the car. Six other customers were in line ahead of me. They had made appointments. I had not.

The technician handling the cars and trucks in the line suggested I not remind him that I know the service manager. It would not have helped since the service manager was probably home in bed, while the service tech and I were standing in a hot garage service bay.

I will start paying more attention to the warnings if I want to sleep late on Saturdays.

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Larry Fugate is a veteran journalist and former editor of The Pine Bluff Commercial. He can be reached by e-mail at fugatel@sbcglobal.net or at (870) 329-7010.