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No more shade tree mechanics

August 28, 2014 - Michael Palmer
Turning a wrench, the old school do-it-yourself method of car repair. You remember, the Chilton's manual open on the fender and your trusty tool box by your side as you fixed your own car.

Those days are gone forever as the computerized automobile has successfully killed off the Shade Tree Mechanic.

You need an automotive tech degree and a computer diagnostic tester just to find out what is wrong with your vehicle. It used to be so simple; fuel – air – ignition source, the holy trinity of internal combustion engines. If the car did not start one needed only to explore which of the elements was out of balance ad then adjust, repair or replace to attain the balance which would bring the V-8 mill back to life.

With just a few tools and some form a gasket anything from setting your points to replacing a head gasket could be done right in your own driveway.

Wire harness? Yes we had one, but it was a slim and sleek band of colored wires, not the anaconda of spaghetti that encompasses the entire engine compartment today.

With 8 cylinders, we somehow got by with just one coil, now I have one for each cylinder.

But our gas mileage is better now thanks to all the technology under the hood, right?

What about the Nash Rambler? The 30-mile-per-gallon 1951 Nash Rambler convertible?

Don't get me wrong, I am not against all tech. The safety improvements are great. An air bag may not have the love of my mother's right arm, but what it lacks in compassion it more than compensates for with life saving potential.

I guess my real animosity lies in the results of the computerizing of the automobile. The tech has taken away the satisfaction of being able to fix your own car without adding the one promised option all the 60s kids were looking forward to ….. flying.

If I can not fix my own car without calling Scotty to monitor my dilithium crystals, then I ought to be able to fly to work. Knowing the end result would be mass chaos n the skies and piles of mangled flying cars with the bodies of total idiots rotting amidst the remainder of an endangered bird population, I guess I knew all along that my car would never fly.

Maybe we could compromise? Manufacturers could make one model for the old guys with all the high tech gadgets and safety devices in the interior but a 1969 low tech motor under the hood. Electronic ignition would be alright, I never did like changing points much.


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