March 25, 2018

That Really Bunches My Panties…by Brendon Marks


I used to own one vehicle from each of the four major manufacturers, (Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Japan), so I expected to buy four different oil filters. I was not prepared for what I encountered. The auto parts store where I shop has a bazillion different oil filters. So many that they have a big book, hanging on a chain from a shelf, that you use to find the oil filter for your vehicle. You scan the charts to find the make and year of your vehicle, then narrow it down using other factors such as engine size, number of tires, and color of floor mats. Finally you write the number on your hand, and start searching the shelves. Here’s where I can save you some time. Go directly to the only empty space on the shelf, that’s where the one you need should have been.

I realize that the idea of filtering oil is more complicated than straining the lumps out of gravy, but it’s not as complicated as the cleansing process in a human kidney either.

What is so unique about the filtering requirements of any particular engine that demands a filter a fraction of an inch bigger or smaller than another engine? However important it may be; it’s a five-dollar part, and does not justify a million-dollar research and development project.

Imagine how handy it would be if cars were like our bodies. As long as our blood types, tissues, and religions match, parts are pretty much interchangeable. Even between different makes and models, or compacts and semis. The year of manufacture is not a major factor, except in the case of rare antiques. (Like me!) Wouldn’t it be great if all cars that used the same weight oil had interchangeable parts? There may even be cases where parts could be used across different oil weights, like gas caps, gear shift knobs, or brake light bulbs.

It would be simple; if you need a new lung–what’s your blood type? A new carburetor–what weight oil? I know there must be a correlation here, because whenever I have work done on my car, it costs the same as major surgery.

The similarities don’t end with cost. Surgeons and mechanics both tell you what they plan to do, but how often do plans change?

Surgeon: “I would have asked, but you were asleep.”

Mechanic: “I would have asked, but I thought you were asleep. I didn’t know you were just watching soap operas.”

A mechanic friend of mine admits that if the auto industry ever got its act together, he would be out of business, but he’s also not worried because he knows it ain’t gonna happen.

We have a finite number of different blood types, and I know of no plans to design a new one, but engineers love to tinker. They will simply design a different type of oil whenever they want to make new parts. Therefore we must drive a stake in the ground and insist on no new oil types.

For the record, in case you want to donate parts, my blood type is 10W-30 and I use O-positive oil.

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