Over a thousand people a day post questions to the Cars & Transportation section of Yahoo! Answers, and since this is more traffic than I can reasonably expect to garner on my own, I figure the least I can do is preempt some of that traffic by answering typical questions right here. Fortunately for me, the questions are mostly the same: only the make and model vary. And they generally go something like this:
My Check Engine light is on. Why?
Have you, in fact, checked your engine? It's that large, vaguely-rectangular shape under the hood. (If you're in the United Kingdom, it's under the bonnet; if you own a Porsche 911, you need to be checking with your banker before you waste time on the Internet, because this is going to cost you a couple of body parts, at least one of which you may miss.)
Can I install 22-inch rims on my car?
Of course you can. The Obama administration, up to now, has made no effort to outlaw dub-dubs. And what do you care if you add an extra 80 lb or so of unsprung weight? They look wicked cool, and they'll look even cooler when you shell out another thousand dollars for the Band-Aids masquerading as tires that you'll have to wrap around those rims to keep the fender liners from bursting into flame at 15 mph, which is as fast as you'll want to go anyway with the buckboard ride you're asking for. Besides, if you're going too fast, people can't admire your rims, can they?
Can I swap my automatic transmission for a manual?
Easily. All you have to do is (1) find a suitable donor car with the proper gearbox; (2) figure out just how you're going to allow for differences in the chassis mounting; (3) cut the hole in the firewall to accommodate the third pedal; (4) cut another hole in the firewall to allow for the fact that the clutch linkage is the wrong size; (5) swap out the car's computer with one that expects to be dealing with a manual transmission; (6) figure out how in the hell you're going to get the drive axles to fit; (7 through 31) various other minor issues that, in total, shouldn't cost more than 175 percent of the price AAMCO quoted you to rebuild the old automatic in the first place.
Do I have to use premium gas? I have a [fill in make/model of car that says it requires premium gas].
Why would you ask such a thing? Modern cars have computers to evaluate what fuel is being used and can adjust accordingly. Of course, your mileage may vary. And if you hear a steady knock-knock-KNOCK from under the hood, well, that's why they put those megawatt stereos in those fancy luxury cars. Besides, you're saving almost a quarter a gallon. After about 2500 gallons you'll have saved enough for one-tenth of a brand-new engine, which is good, because then you'll only have to come up with 90 percent of the repair bill, your warranty having (1) expired 2,000 miles ago and (2) been voided because the computer has been logging all the crappy gas you've been buying because you wanted to save a quarter a gallon.
Is a [fill in make/model] a girl car?
Oh, good God, yes. In fact, just walking near one of those will cause your testicles to shoot up into your crotch like artillery ordnance, leaving your empty scrotum flapping in the breeze; you stand to lose 0.07 inch of penis for every 100 miles you drive. After a year you'll have grown a pair of C-cups, and by the time you make the last payment you'll have started your period. (I strongly recommend seat covers.) And don't go expecting you'll come out of this looking like Megan Fox in a dress; you'll look more like Michael J. Fox in a dress. Except for the C-cups, of course.
If I get any more questions, they'll be saved up for a future installment.
1 September 2009