November 28, 2023

Automotive Breakdown . . . by Denny Mandeville


Expert – a person who knows more than the average person about something. To be more exact, using Noah’s definition; an expert is one who has special knowledge or skill in a subject or area. Another definition of expert is a person who is paid a sum of money to support your view, or claim, usually in court. An expert may be a person wearing a bow tie, carrying a briefcase and 50 miles from home. My personal favorite- an expert is a has-been-under-pressure. Nor should we forget every group’s resident expert.
Theoretically, I am an expert in auto repair because I know more than the average person about auto repair. Notice the word “repair”- I am not claiming to be an expert in any other area, yet folks ask me, all the time, “what is the best car to buy.” If we go back to the word ‘repair’, then you will understand I base my decisions on the word, and action, of repair. I am a firm believer in the old adage “stuff breaks.”
Stuff wears out, stuff breaks, and has to be repaired or replaced. The more stuff you have in/on a mechanical device subject to use, abuse, or neglect, the more opportunity for stuff to wear out and/or break. And stuff costs money. Oh, believe me; I treasure some automotive stuff; my cruise control, power windows, power seats, air conditioning, ABS, and the smooth shifting computer controlled transmission. My truck delivers all the amenities I like and use. I don’t, however, treasure heated seats, steering wheel, or mirrors. I don’t think on-board entertainment centers are a great necessity, and I really am not sure those large screen information centers are not more distraction than is in our best interest (can you say distracted driving?). In other words stuff. Those automatic opening side doors currently the rage on vans- certainly nice when your hands are full of rug rats, but what happens when they aren’t so automatic? So when folks ask about the “best car” I generally base my opinions upon frequency of stuff breaking, and the difficulty of diagnosing/repairing/replacing malfunctioning stuff. And, I am a firm believer in “you pays your money, and you takes your choice.” My favorite (insert word) may not be your favorite (insert word), and you may consider my favorite whatever to be way offensive to your choices. Just so you know my pecking order; First On Race Day (Ford), Drips Oil, Drops Grease Everywhere (Dodge), or Real trucks don’t wear bow ties. Hey, you asked! All too frequently, when asked the “best whatever” question the next words that follow your answer is “I’ve heard that….”
All that said, my wife works for the State of Arizona, and (literally) travels to the 4 corners of the state and areas between. Most of the time, she opts for a State car, but sometimes she travels in her own car. I, therefore, desire she be in a dependable car- one with as few miles as possible on the odometer, and as few years on the model year as possible. It’s okay that I have 350,000 miles on my truck and if it breaks down. I am not as susceptible to stranger danger as a woman is, so I can justify waiting another few years for my replacement. Quite honestly, nobody has come out with a perfect replacement for my dependable diesel, yet. But for her, I prefer not to take chances in an older car- heck it’s newer than mine, and not beyond the national age average, however (being the expert) I desire her to be in a newer car- and one that I don’t have to work on, yet. Which quest is leading us (me just tagging along) to various dealerships in the quest for the BEST car. Invariably it comes out I own a repair shop so now the sales person wants to defer to my expertness in choosing a car for my wife.
That’s not what I do. I have definite opinions on what NOT to purchase, but the rest is ‘you pays your money and you takes your choice.’ After she decides I’ll let the rest of you know the best car to buy- she’ll have told me.

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