Saturday, December 18, 2004

Auto-diagnostic auto
I think one of the most useless features of modern automobiles is the supposed ability to diagnose itself. You know the experience. You are driving along and suddenly the dashboard lights up with the message: "Service engine soon." And it won't turn off. Almost every time I have tried to take my car to a professional due to one of these self-diagnostic alerts, the mechanic tells me something like "Oh, just ignore it. Those things usually light up because of some electrical quirk."

So it was today, as I tried to get a good start from Oklahoma City back to Guymon. I had just left my dad's house when I noticed that annoying "Low tire" light was on. Now this alert is supposed to tell you when one or more of the tires looses some tire pressure. The light almost always comes on after I have a tire replaced or after I have the tires rotated or aligned, not because there is low pressure, but because the system can't distinguish between low tire pressure and a change in the tire position. When this light has come on in the past, I usually let out an exasperated sigh and drive on, happily ignoring it, until I give in, stop the car, open the fuse panel, and reset the light. Today as I drove on, I thought to myself, "Hhhmm. I didn't have any tire work in the last few days....darn crazy system."

Just before driving out of town for the long, desolate four hour drive, I stopped at a Wal-Mart Supercenter to look for a Christmas gift. As I returned to my car, passing from the passenger side to driver side, I noticed my right rear tire was totally flat. "Well, I'll be," I thought, "the darn light actually did what it is supposed to do this time!"

For the first time in the 107K-lifespan of my car, I had to change a tire. It wasn't an Indy pit stop by any means, but I must say I made pretty good time getting the spare on. And by Providence, since I had stopped just before leaving town, the tire store where I purchased these four new tires back in June was just a few blocks down the road (read: free flat repair!). Had I not stopped I would have been further down the road, further away from the tire store, and may even have damaged the wheel rim in the process. Thanks be to God all got fixed and I even made it back to my parish in time to type up this weekend's announcements before the first Mass this evening!

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