Reader’s Digest, The Family Handyman, Simple Car Care & Repair

BenzPatent-Motorwagen“Next time you complain about your phone service, why don’t you try using two Dixie Cups with a string.” So said Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine the Telephone Operator of Saturday Night Live fame.

I spent Father’s Day taking a leisurely stroll down Memory Lane with my dad at the National Automobile Museum in Reno. He ended up lost in a by-gone era about the original Harrah’s Automobile Collection before it was split up and sold off to wherever it went with the sands of time. His day was made when we found Al Jolson’s car toward the end of the last exhibit. “It has to be here. I would know if we passed it. They can’t have gotten rid of it…” Some memories are meant to be held in the mind, but this memory, at least for me, will be held in my heart. Lots of pictures, a $2.00 can of Coke and a bag of souvenirs later, we had the perfect day.

[The following Friday there was a small fire in the lobby; arson. Minimal damage was reported, but restorations are underway. The museum is open for business. Please support this treasured link to our past.]

Reader’s Digest, The Family Handyman, Simple Car Care & Repair. This was my treasured Bag Of Swag. (My dad ended up with a history book on Harrah’s Original Car Collection, a t-shirt and a Jeep parking sign. He was way too fun to shop for, especially considering the museum was free to dads accompanied by family.) $4.50 is what I ended up paying for this 1997 book; it’s available from for various prices. This was a great book to read, too. It’s hard bound with permanent binder rings, almost like a notebook; when I open the book I don’t need to place a heavy object on the pages to keep them from closing.

This is a gadget lover’s dream book. There are little ideas that make simple project more simple and so much easier. When the time comes that I’m brave enough to dismantle and reassemble parts I am definitely going to try these out. For instance: Use a spray can lid as an extension to the screwdriver handle to save a sore palm and possibly blisters; use plastic tubing on the end of your screwdriver to hold the screw in place; use a Dixie Cup (non waxed variety) as a funnel, just poke a hole in the bottom; and… take a Dixie Cup, poke a hole, insert a bendy straw, seal or caulk it with whatever means you have available and attach it to a Shop Vac hose for easy access to tight areas, like next to the front seats that seem to collect crumbs and other lost things. Mini vacuum tool. I have fat Tupperware straws that I may try this with when the weather cool downs and it’s not 90 degrees at 8:00 at night.

The reader is taken on a trip through safety, whether it’s mental or physical, common sense or just plain stupid brain farts. Everyone has them, but if you stop and think, maybe write down a checklist you won’t wind up decapitated from not tying back your beautiful long hair after it gets caught in the spinning belts or minus a hand because you forgot to take of f that watch. Just things like that.

What is the difference between Metric and SAE? What are good tools for the beginning mechanic to keep in a tool box, just in case of emergency? For that matter, what should everyone keep in their Roadside Emergency Kit? How do I adjust the aim on my headlights or window washer spray nozzles? Stopping at the gas station or mechanic shop might seem easier and cheaper, but the truth is that you’re being nickel and dimed out of hard earned money.

What colors and what smells are those leaking fluids that you found under your car? Why does gas have ethanol in it? Knocks and pings from using a lesser quality gas than what your owner’s manual calls for. There are differences in tires, how to tell if they’re bald and when to rotate; siping. Electrical miscellany, wires, hoses, belts and how to replace a mangled antenna. Air conditioning, cleaning out the vents, lubing hinges and fixing sagging doors, removing bumper stickers and minor touch-ups. I can go on forever. Well, maybe not, but you get the idea. How to haul and tow, what to look for in a mechanic and how to be more buying savvy when shopping. Warranties. Brakes. On and on and on… Bumps and shakes, rattles and rolls. Batteries and alternators. How to diagnose and maybe do minor repair. Some of the big stuff, like transmissions and timing belts should be left to the professionals. At least these are my interpretations. You’re not going to read a manual on open heart surgery and attempt a Transmyocardial Laser Revascularization, are you?

Patience is the most important factor when calamity strikes. Be calm and don’t have a panic attack. Step back and thoroughly assess the situation. It might not be as bad as you think. Grab a tarp, goggles and maybe your butt inspector gloves, so that when AAA or Allstate Roadside Assistance arrives you can look like you know what you’re doing. Besides, nobody knows everything. “That was next on my list of things to check, but now that you’re here I don’t want to leave you with a wasted trip; you may have the honors.”
I like reading what people have to say about a subject, especially men. They seem to use an entirely different side of the brain than women. I’ve read some discouraging reviews, but like the content of what I’ve read. There are shades of grey and I try not to let them discourage me. I like floating in the pool, walking my dog, reading fluff stories and watching Criminal Minds. At least this month. Next week I can add a new interest like completing Bioshock Infinite. It doesn’t feel like cars will ever be a passion of mine. I try to read and some manuals or books seem to have more interesting things that captivate me. I just latch onto the little things and find something that captures my interest.

This book has a Glossary towards the end of it. There is a checklist of possible ailments that comes in handy to give to your mechanic so that you don’t have to remember every little detail as you are being brow beaten or made to feel stupid for not being able to diagnose a problem.

This book is over 15 years old and so some of the things are dated. That’s what the Internet is for. One size doesn’t fit all. Look up a diagram of your car on-line or open your Owner’s Manual. That should take some of the guess work out. I just enjoyed reading this book. It wasn’t too technical and it felt like I was reading an Idiot’s Concise Guide without actually being referred as one. The more I read the more I compare past books to what I read now and without even realizing it I am retaining information.

I give it 5 superbly awesome wheels and a Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Mag Wheels Mag WheelsMag WheelsMag WheelsMag Wheels



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