Mary discovers she's the wife of an incorrigible cheapskate.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 2009

Dear Tom and Ray:

I just got married, and last week my new husband and I got into our first disagreement in the car! He doesn't put his blinker on when he's stopped, waiting to turn. He waits until he gets INTO the intersection. At that point, he will turn the blinker on for just a moment, until he completes the turn and it automatically clicks off. When I asked him about this, he says that he doesn't want his blinker bulb to burn out prematurely, so he uses it only when it is a safety concern. My questions to you are: (1) How much does a blinker bulb cost; (2) does his little trick truly impact bulb life; and (3) isn't this "improper use of a turn signal"? He drives a 2003 Ford Mustang. I told him that it not only is dangerous not to give other drivers as much notice as possible, but it also is "ticketable." Can you help me win our first married argument? Thank you! -- Mary

TOM: Is it too late to get an annulment, Mary? I think you have grounds.

RAY: You may not realize it, but with this argument, you've made a very unpleasant discovery: You're now the wife of an incorrigible cheapskate.

TOM: It's going to be a long, difficult slog with this guy, Mary. If you don't believe me, ask any of my ex-wives!

RAY: This is exactly why we insist that any couple in a serious relationship drive together before marriage.

TOM: Whether what he's doing is a moving violation in your state or not (I don't know where "late to signal" ends and "failure to signal" begins), what he's doing is unsafe and inconsiderate. The purpose of the turn signal is to notify other cars around you of your intentions.

RAY: So if your new hubby enters an intersection with his blinker off, the car behind him will naturally assume he's going to continue straight through it. Then, if your hubby suddenly turns on his left blinker and stops to wait for oncoming traffic to pass, the guy behind him may be surprised, and may plow right into his rear end.

TOM: And last time I checked, replacing the trunk lid, two rear quarter panels and both taillight assemblies (not to mention hospital bills and insurance surcharges) is a lot more expensive than a stinkin' blinker bulb.

RAY: By the way, these bulbs generally cost less than five bucks apiece. And they almost never blow out. Lots of cars go to the junkyard with their original blinker bulbs still working. Why? Because they spend so little time lit up compared with other bulbs in the car.

TOM: Your husband clearly needs an intervention, Mary. You can try using humor. Buy him four blinker bulbs for Christmas, and tell him that now that you've paid for them, he might as well get his money's worth out of the old ones.

RAY: Or try showing him how absurd his thinking is by agreeing with him and one-upping him. Tell him that you're really concerned about all the use the brake lights are getting, and that you think he should stop using the brakes.

TOM: And remind him that headlights are really expensive, and you think he's overusing his. Especially at night.

RAY: But if humor doesn't work, you'll need to simply insist. Let him know that while you appreciate his frugality, you're going to draw the line when it infringes on your safety. And this is one such case.

TOM: And there will be others. Trust me. So do the intervention now, during the honeymoon period, while you are at the peak of your influence over him, Mary. And if all else fails, remind him -- with a threatening look -- that you prepare his food.

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