Dear Tom and Ray: My son is driving a 2001 Chrysler Concorde, and it's now on its last leg. He drives fast -- he just got a speeding ticket for going 96 mph! He goes to college out of state, and it's a long, boring drive home; that's the excuse I got for the ticket. He also told me that's not the fastest he's driven! He's always in a hurry -- jackrabbit starts and last-second braking. Does the way he drives affect the longevity of the engine? I'm pretty sure it does. I want him to understand how to make a car last.
RAY: We actually DON'T want him to understand what makes a car last, Richard. It's guys like him who keep us in business at the garage and allow us to buy a bigger boat every spring.
TOM: Of course the way he drives affects the longevity of the car. In fact, it can affect the longevity of everything -- including him!
RAY: We wrote a pamphlet called "Ten Ways You May be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It" (Send $4.75 -- check or money order -- to Ruin, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475). And guess what's No. 1 on our list? Driving like your son does!
TOM: Right. You slam on the gas pedal and stress everything down the line: the pistons, the connecting rods, the crankshaft, the transmission, the differential, then the axles and the wheels. And once the car takes off, you not only stress the suspension parts, but you're also loosening up the welds that hold the car together and hastening the day when your car becomes the proverbial bucket of bolts.
RAY: In the pamphlet, we use this analogy: Imagine that you're walking down the street and you need to turn around and walk in the other direction.
TOM: Which approach will harm you less: stopping, turning around and then starting to walk the other way?
RAY: Or getting slammed by an NFL linebacker and jolted suddenly into moving in the other direction?
TOM: They both get the job done, but if it were your body, which would you prefer, 50 times a day?
RAY: So you need to drill some sense into this kid, Richard -- first, for his own safety and the safety of others who have to share the road with him. And second, for the longevity of his car. In our experience, nothing helps drive home a point like having to pay the cost of one's own stupidity.
TOM: You mean like my alimony payments?
RAY: Exactly. That's one example. But when a young driver has to pay for his own repair bills, his own insurance (including the surcharges he generates with speeding tickets) and his own replacement car once he destroys the one he's got, he may suddenly get religion.
TOM: After his second brake job in six months and a transmission failure or two, he might eventually ask you if he can read that little pamphlet one more time. Good luck, Richard. And if nothing else, slow him down.