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DEAD ENDS AND VAGUE ADVICE:IT AIN'T EASY BEING A SHADE TREE MECHANIC THESE DAYS

internet imgp9568We live in the greatest information era in the history of mankind. Unfortunately, a lot of it is misinformation when it comes to cars. I had a few simple questions about a door plunger issue on a Buick, so I dove into the deep end of the internet pool in search of simple and straight-forward answers.

It was not a pleasant experience.

I went to a few trouble-shooting forums in search of an answer. Most of them had vague and confusing explanations that missed the point.

It suddenly dawned on me that I had completely underestimated the sheer number of complete idiots out there that are more than willing to dispense bad advice.

That is the downside to the new internet world: Now we can round up every bozo with a keyboard and give him access to a big world where they can dispense their BS to a much larger audience. And it’s all done under a cloak of anonymity.

We can’t even throw a punch at these guys for all the trouble they cause to helpless victims.

None of it made sense to me. Besides, I’ve been a little gun-shy about bad advice ever since my first car when a licensed plumber recommended a liberal application of gasket glue on my blown head gasket replacement. I didn’t make the same mistake twice on that little misadventure, and I never got mechanical advice from a plumber again.

But the internet doesn’t let us know who is dispensing car advice. Hell, it could be a kid in grade three- or maybe another plumber for all anybody knows.

So then I came across a website that provided 24 hour access to licensed mechanics that would provide expert answers to all car questions. What a great bunch of guys. They were willing to sit by their computers in their spare time and dispense advice to a world of shade-tree mechanics that needed guidance. This is Mother Theresa stuff.

Then I got sent back to Planet Earth in crash landing mode. These bandits wanted cash up front before they were willing to share their wisdom. There was no indication that the website was a for-profit entity until the victim was in the trap. I was given three payment options for their services and no exit from the site. It felt like an internet version of a mugging, but at least muggers don’t mislead you about their intentions. Fortunately I do know how to shut my computer down when backed into a corner.

It has never been easy to work on cars even before the internet. Most repair manuals offer just enough advice to get the average shade-treer into dangerous shark-infested waters. I had water pump replacement advice from a repair manual that failed to mention that six bolts were necessary to remove the pump. They listed five. I was very unhappy with those evil bastards three days into a two hour job.

The solution has always been obvious: Consult with a real mechanic that you can trust. He will steer you toward a simple solution and also advise whether you are in over your head.

That was how I solved the problem with the Buick when all else failed, and it was something I should have done in the first place.

COMMENTS

PETER:"haha! I just spent the weekend doing the same thing!"

DENNIS"The average mortal hasn't been able to fix a car for at least a decade now. I've always considered myself a pretty good auto mechanic but these "computer age" cars require a science degree to unlock the doors. You can't even ask 3 dealership mechanics the same question without getting 3 different answers".