Saturday, November 1, 2014

All Wheel Drive vs. Front Wheel Drive

Driving north to work on Interstate 95 last Friday, I felt my car trying to tell me something. I usually don't listen because I hate cars, and they never tell me something good like, "I love watching you drive." They're usually trying to tell me something bad news and jargon-y like, "The governor on your rear differential is about to wear out your fan belt and cause viscosity buildup under the pistons of your catalytic converter. Check Engine." I wouldn't own a car if I didn't have to. I miss the days when I could walk everywhere I needed to go. So does my waistline.

Maybe the car wasn't literally trying to tell me something because I don't have anything fancy equipped with the sultry woman's voice, but there appeared a message on the panel in front of me...the right wheel tire pressure was 3.

3? Seemed kinda low. Usually that number is in the 30s or so, I think. So this is a big problem. Then by the time I process all the information, it's at 1, then 0, and suddenly I'm doing 6 mph on one of the busiest, truck-infested highways in the country. Time to move over to the shoulder, shout some choice words into the steering wheel, call AAA, then pray all of those semis racing by me at 75 mph are operated by competent, awake, alert, happy individuals.

I was glad not to have any kids with me, because they would have gone bananas. But once you get over the initial shock of your Chevy Equinox shaking every time a Dodge Neon drives by, much less a tractor trailer, you're free to check the late NBA and NHL scores and catch up on some emails until the guy comes to put the spare on. (I'm sure as hell not changing a tire on I-95 in my business casual attire. not without a film crew and Mike Rowe on hand.)

Ah, the spare tire. I know there are good reasons (trunk space, weight) why the spare tire is ridiculously small, forcing you to drive like Laurel and Hardy up the Interstate, turning you into that old lady you want to cuss at but you can't because you can't see her when you get by her, making you late for your important business meeting. When I'm named Secretary of the Interior, I'm requiring all roads to have a Spare Tire lane just so those unfortunate souls have a place to drive guilt-free. I'm also inventing a tire that allows you to go faster than 50 mph on it and longer than 50 miles.

All of this brings us to Saturday, when I need to buy a new, real tire so I don't ruin the trusty spare and find myself in another predicament. There are far, far too many questions that need to be answered when buying a tire(s).

1. How many tires? It might as well be a game show with its own wheel to spin. The obvious answer is, "However many went flat yesterday," but you have to account for tread wear, balance, mileage, and at least three other things, none of which I know anything about, so I mentally spin the game show wheel and come up with a number. Today I said two. Who knows.

2. Are there any superfluous letters at the end of the model of your car? For example, please don't say just "Chevy Equinox." Is it an LT, LZ, LZT, LXZT, or B-Sharp? Apparently all of these take different tires.

3. Is the car All Wheel Drive or Front Wheel Drive? For the love of God, who cares. It was explained to me why this is important, but I didn't listen. I simply do not care. Like a "classic" movie that's been oversold to me and I'll never watch, I never want to find out what the differences are between AWD, FWD, or even RWD. Don't tell me. I'm not la la la la...

I always assumed it had something to do with being able to go really fast through a 15-foot-high pile of snow or driving on steep, rocky terrain like we see in a commercial, but since the only "off-roading" I'll be doing is driving on the striped, weirdly shaped "Land of Indecision" between the highway and the off ramp, I never bothered to figure out the difference and never will.

Still, even though the difference between AWD, FWD, and RWD means nothing to me, I still need to know which one my car is, because of course different tires for each. (Of course.) The owner's manual didn't specifically say it was AWD (apparently AWD is better?) but it didn't say it wasn't, either. So I took to the internets and for $30 I could find out. Not that interested, so I guessed. 50-50 chance, right?

What does any of this have to do with kids or parenting? Here's Part 2!

This silliness has a Facebook Page!

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