While having my rim replaced this weekend, I looked through the glass doors to see the mechanic pounding something with a hammer. I immediately walked into the service bay and inquired if the mechanics were having a problem. Seems that they couldn’t get the center cap of the rim off to balance the wheel, and a hammer was their tool of choice. Given that the center cap is held on by a rubber gasket, no amount of pounding is going to remove it because the gasket uniformly absorbs the shock and actually creates suction.
I stepped up, and with minimal effort, removed the center cap with my thumb using uneven pressure, leaving the mechanics staring at me like monkeys at the monolyth. If I could afford a garage and a tire balancing machine, I would’ve done this all myself.
As this seemed all too easy, just after I left the garage, my engine light came on permanently. Earlier in the day, I had broken out my trusty service manual and determined that the oxygen sensor was failing . The simple act of shorting the service connector, reading the ODB engine codes, and pulling a fuse actually probably saved me $100 in labor. It may have even saved me unneeded repairs had I gone to a disreputable mechanic.
If you have a car and don’t have a service manual, I would suggest picking one up from the dealer. They contain not only all the steps that you can take to troubleshoot any problem with the car, but the steps are exactly as the dealer’s mechanics would do them, without the pesky $75 per hour labor charge. Plus, if you’re a dude, you get to feel like a dude. If you’re a chick, you can dress up in a mechanic’s jumper, grease up, fix my car, and tell me how much I owe you for the repairs in some breathy, heaving sort of way… [sigh]
Anyway, service manuals can be purchased from dealership service departments and run from $20 to $50, but will save you at least that much in labor on your first repair, no matter how minor. I’ve used mine for lights, bumpers, horns, wiring, taking apart the dash, timing, a cold air intake, and now an oxygen sensor. Miles on car: 108,000. Money saved: tons.
You can do the same by simply buying and RTFM.
Daypop spit up www.whattorent.com at me today. It’s some sort of automated system to determine what movie you should rent tonight. It starts with a questionnaire, and ends with suggestions of movies you might like. For me, the system picked movies that I thought were ok, with no real big hits, but I find it pretty amazing that a system can find movies that are relatively up my alley.
It also threw a BBC quiz that involves guessing whether people are really smiling, or merely faking it. There is a trick to it. That trick got me 18/20, and is helpful in spotting those finger-gun shooting bullshit artists in the business world. Good luck.