2008-10-17

A cheap brake "repair"

Tonight while puttering about my apart, I listened to NPR's "Car Talk" podcast. If you are not familiar with Car Talk, it's a highly entertaining call-in car repair show. You don't need to be a car expert to appreciate it; most of the callers aren't. Tom and Ray answer questions, tell jokes, pick on one another, and generally have a good time for an hour.

People often call in asking about warning lights on the dash. It got me thinking about my experience with warning lights.

The first car I owned was an 85 Subaru GL that I bought with 103,000 miles on it. I drove it for years until it finally dies at about 187,000 miles. But that is a tale for another time.

One night while driving from Great Falls to Helena, I encountered a sudden red glare out the corner of my eye. I looked down and there on the dash was a bright red warning sign that said "Brake."

I was zipping up and down hills on the interstate at, um, "Montana Appropriate" speeds. A few light taps on the brake pedal seemed to slow that car, and it was late, so I decided not to worry about it too much.

But the big problem was that the light was so bright. I had dimmed my other dash lights because it was dark out, but this one was making it harder to see. Why do danger warning have to be so obnoxious?

So I pulled over at an empty exit, dug around in my trunk and found the tool I needed to fix the problem with the brakes -- black electrical tape. I tore off a small piece and stuck it right over warning light and solved the problem.

Anyone else fix their brakes this way?

After a week or so, I took the car in. For some reason, the mechanics were appalled at how I handled the situation. It turns out I needed a new hill holder switch.

Which is pretty cool because at that point I didn't even know my car had a hill holder switch.

I worked out a little better than that time I decided to repair the windshield crack with duct tape.

3 comments:

Matt Oxley said...

I love Car Talk...specially at the end when they talk about the producers and all the people that make the show and give em names like Terry "the bonecrusher" Roberts or something like that.

good stuff

lori said...

I'm a big talk radio fan. I'll check into Car Talk.

Can't everything be fixed with tape?

Confessions of a Baltimore Housewife

Dan Brantley said...

I have quieted several noises in cars by turning up the radio.
Try it!