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Service Engine Soon

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“SERVICE ENGINE SOON”. Ok, it’s not as bad as the your-oil-pressure-is-low-your-engine-is-cooked light, but it’s still a pain in the butt. The owner’s manual says that it might be related to the exhaust/emissions system. The car will still run…but you should get it looked at as soon as possible.


So…I call the dealership and, amazingly enough, they can look at it. No appointment necessary. What the hey?! I ain’t complain’ tho…so I get down there and the guy with the red shirt takes down my information, takes my keys, and off I go to the waiting lounge.

It does take a while (nearly two hours…but I’m still not complainin’ because it’s a beautiful day out there, I’ve taken a day off of work…and I’m happy (or at least hopeful) that my car will be ‘fixed’ before our Columbus Day weekend drive up the coast of Maine).

A little later the guy with the red shirt comes out with the service receipt in hand plus the good news: The charge is $0.00…because the gas cap was loose! Geez, I’m all worried about having to replace some big ‘ole expensive part and instead my danged gas cap was loose! Since when does “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” mean “YOUR GAS CAP IS LOOSE”? (ok…I do know the reason, but still…)

Look, I’m not complaining about technology in general (though I have been known to indulge myself there). Heck, technological advancements in areas like medicine and aeronautics have been nothing short of amazing. Where there appears to be a lag though, is in the area of gas cap loosy-tighty detection. To be fair, even an advanced loosy-tighty detector probably wouldn’t have been able to diagnose my car’s problem…which was that the rubber safety strap that used to be attached to the gas cap had been severed and had gotten itself wedged underneath the cap itself, causing the less than perfect seal.

Foiled by a little rubber flappy-doodle.

Oh yea, so while I’m waiting there in the lounge I thumbed my way through this business magazine (can’t remember which) and happen upon an article about this guy whose job is to convert pop tunes to cellphone ringtones. Interesting job, I thought. Then I get to this eye-popping stat: his company has sold 1.8 billion ringtones! Yow! Ain’t technology grand?!

So, what have we learned today? That technology can be both grand and silly. That sometimes things can turn out better than expected…and that people are spending insane amounts of money so that “We Are The Champions” will ‘ring’ on their cellphones.

What a world.

(First posted on Mark Is Cranky)

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About Mark Saleski

  • Eric Olsen

    nice one Mark! The problem with technology is the dependency it creates, kind of like welfare.

  • Navymom

    I did the same “Service Engine Soon” fire drill you did with a brand new Volvo, only three times! On the third visit the dealer had the nerve to tell me I don’t know how to put a gas cap on. That’s where I lost it. Explaining to the dealer, in clipped words, that I had been manipulating gas caps for over 20 years and JUST MAYBE THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS PARTICULAR GAS CAP, we got to the meat of the matter… Technological flappy doodle malfunction. Glad you enjoyed your time in the customer service pen.

  • Eric Olsen

    We’ve had a similar problem with my wife’s “inflate tire” light since she bought the freaking vehicle. NO ONE seems to be able to explain that. Maybe I should call “Car Talk,” except the accents might cause me to fly into an uncontrollable rage.

  • frost@work

    click and clack kick serious ass. Call em’ and post a link to the audio file from cars.com or wherever they keep their audio files.

  • accents?!! it’s you folks from cleveland who talk funny.


  • frost@work

    No, it’s Texans who talk funny. Words like “ya’ll” and “fixin'” should be obliterated from the english language.

  • Eric Olsen

    Ooh, Cleveland accents – a mutation of hard urban Midwest-speak like Chicago – is almost as appalling. I have a “universal American newscaster” accent, with some residual Southern California peculiarities.

  • I get unlimited shit for my Ohio accent out here in New England. Something about dropped infinitives especially sets people off.

    I never knew this sentence was so laughable: “The rug needs swept.” Apparently, the rug needs to be vacuumed. At least according to the bluenoses I hobnob with now.

    At least I don’t talk like a Pittsburgher. I mean, “Picksburgher an’ ‘at.”

  • Chrysler van owner

    Hi, I am going to the garage and get some gas and I hoooppppeeeee its just the gas cap. thanks. I will get back about it.

  • myles muise

    service engine soon on aa ford escape came on what does it mean