Friday, December 17, 2010

797 We Should Come With Dashboards

797 We Should Come With Dashboards (Sent out of sequence)

Modern cars have dashboard warning systems. These are not the idiot lights of years past when they replaced actual gauges with vague warnings about "overheating" or "low oil pressure" LEDs, stuff you couldn't understand or about which you likely could do nothing. In today's computerized cars and trucks, there is, first and foremost, the dreaded "Check Engine" light. What does this mean? You stop on the roadside and open the hood. There's an engine under there, so what are they talking about? Plus a missing engine would be pretty obvious when you turned the key and nothing happened.

That's not what it means. It means there's something weird going on and you'd better connect a diagnostic tool to the under-hood computer to find out what it means. Usually, it's something both obscure and expensive. But it's probably better to know about it than to not know about it. Be prepared to max out your Visa Card.

Oil, seat belts, open doors, air bags. Bad battery. Oh. And "Brake."

That's the scariest one of all. The car stops. Everything feels normal. The light goes on, "brake." And then it goes off and on again a few times. Maybe it's the sensor in the hand brake. You jiggle the hand brake and the light goes out.

So, we take "the world's most reliable car" into the brake shop and they tell you "your brake fluid is low and dirty." Dirty? How does fluid in a closed container get "dirty?" The answer is that it doesn't. It's not really dirty. It's old and burned. "Dirty" is a relative term, and apparently a "technician's" term. How does it get "low" if there's no leak? One of life's great mysteries and the answer, according to Brake King Auto Repairs is "it just does."

Wouldn't be wonderful if each of us had a personal dashboard with lights or gauges to tell us important stuff? Blood pressure, temperature, unusual growth of cells, acidity levels for acid reflux, cataract warnings, glaucoma warnings. And on the deluxe models, a light to tell us when we are about to say something rude or stupid.


--Thanks to the dozen or so of you who reminded me that I used the word "manor" when I meant "manner" in the lead sentence of the previous post. It's getting tougher and tougher to find such mistakes, even with "spell check" and "grammar check." But, I take full responsibility for my failure, which -- to remind -- is a totally meaningless phrase generally used by politicians with wide stances or girlfriends or who start wars.

--Football player Michael Vick says he'd eventually want to have a dog as a house pet. Given his records (track and court) for stuff like that, it's probably not the best idea. Maybe he should have a cougar or tiger, a cat big enough to keep him honest and to let him know what his previous dogs felt like.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

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