Chaos Attraction

Auto Mechanics Class, Week Seven, Part One

2014-05-14, 9:13 a.m.


Previous week here.

This week was checking your wheels and brakes. We learned how to take wheels on and off the car, and looked at the mechanisms underneath and checked the brake pads to see if they needed to be replaced and if the tires were okay. I learned things such as how one measures the millimeters of the brake pads. They start out at 10 millimeters wide and gradually shrink by 1 mm every 8000-10,000 miles of driving. The teacher specifically said that if you go to a mechanic and they tell you that you have 3 mm left on your brake pads, you should get them replaced before they stop working. According to him, this is not the case--you still have 100% of braking power even if it's at 3 mm. You can wait to do the replacement until it hits 2 mm, so you can wait another 8000-10,000 miles (or a few months, or whatever) to get it done. GOOD TO KNOW!

I now know how to actually find my jack in the car and operate it and remove and replace the tires, even though I do worry about how much of it I can actually be strong enough to do 100% alone on the side of the road without Car Buddy around to help me (Car Buddy did a sterling job--he said he got a lot of practice with his old Jetta). It bothers me that men have that effortless amount of strength and meanwhile I have to fully jump on the lever to get the wrench to start loosening the lug nuts. More specifically I worry about being able to get them on the car tight enough all by myself, but what can you do there, I already lift weights.

My brake pads are at 7 mm.-ish on the front and 6 mm-ish at the back, so it's all good. My tires also look good, which is a giant "whew" right there. I also learned that if a tire is pierced on the center it can be patched (as seen in my life previously), but if it pierces the sides the whole thing is ruined. Also good to know.

Car Buddy actually brought his own car instead of working on a friend’s--it's a 2014 BMW, and apparently quite huge--so he could practice dealing with his new wheels. Well, hoo boy, was that an issue. His car did NOT come with a spare tire, or a jack, or bloody well anything. (All that money for nothing! Or they just assume someone who owns a BMW can buy that shit for themselves?) So he had to borrow a hydraulic jack to lift up his car and borrow another screw-type thing to get the lug nuts off. And his wheels were huge and could barely be picked up. And even worse was putting the damn things back on because there were no pegs to line the wheel up on. In the end, we all concluded that BMW really doesn't want you to deal with your own wheels. Sheesh. I am unimpressed.

As for my sunroof: to quote the teacher, "You're screwed!" He claims that other parts had broken off on the car and there was nothing to glue it to and I am screwed and will have to go to a Volvo dealer to get the parts...and hopefully a diagram as to how to put it back on...I got that "lost cause, you're fucked" feeling right there. I am deeply mad.

I spent what little free time I had Wednesday morning (not a lot in between piles of work and having to write the Chinese government a formal letter...don't ask, it's stupid, they think we're trying to scam them or something) trying to find a Volvo dealer and e-mailing with the friend I got the car from about who did she go to. She just said to go to the mechanic. I tried contacting the lone Sacramento Volvo dealer that actually has open hours at all, and past 5 p.m., and the mechanic. I just heard from the first one as of this afternoon, but I've already heard from the mechanic a lot faster, so I left work early to drop it off.

He wanted to keep it overnight and gave me a...really dubious loaner. Not quite as bad as the "smells like pot, squeaky brakes, scared to drive it into the hills in case it dies" car L got from him for a weekend back in the day, but I was scared to drive it and it had barely any gas in it and I was all, "I am just driving this home and back and that's IT." I also shouldn't have taken two hours off, really, since I ended up not being there for long. I just don't know how to predict these things. So I ended up being home by four and taking a quick dip in the pool before going to the gym for the first time in ages. So good for me on that one.

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