In the past three months of my newly-purchased 2012 Chevy Impala, I have completely snapped off my right side-view mirror, scraped the shit out of the paint on the same side, popped my front left tire, and had a friend teach me how to turn on the air conditioning properly (true story). I suck at owning a car.
If being passionate and knowledgable about the wide world of cars and their parts were a definitive factor of one’s coolness, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d be a labeled a pussy. Just like the boy in your 4th grade class who sucked at kickball and knew it, I just don’t give a fuck, and nothing is going to change that. Being car-savvy just isn’t my game, and unlike my colleague’s not-so-great hair, it’s not even something I have ever had to come to terms with.
You see, there’s never even been a time in my life where I can remember having the slightest masculine interest in cars. Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks weren’t my cup of tea as a child. Need for Speed video games were on fire during my mid-2000s gamer heyday, but they barely crossed my mind. When junior year of high school came around and all of my more affluent bros were proudly naming their fresh Jeeps and Mustangs, I humbly rocked my grandpa’s 1998 Oldsmobile sedan, which went on to win “Worst Car” in the senior superlatives the following school year. “Point A to Point B,” I’d tell the haters with a grin. Didn’t faze me the slightest.
Having a crappy car is no excuse to be illiterate in all things car lingo, you may be thinking. Sure, that’s fair. Let’s take a brief moment to take a look at some common car jargon any fool smart enough to pass their learner’s permit should know, yet remain Greek to me.
Me: “Oh, like the aspect ratio on a TV. This only applies to cars with LCD screens built in them, right?”
Glossary of Car Terminology: “The ratio between the width and sidewall (or height) of the tire. Tires with lower aspect ratios, usually found on sports models, provide superior handling but a harsher ride.”
Me: “This is definitely something that has to do with the function of your brakes. Probably looks like a maxipad or something.”
Glossary: “Used in a disc system, it is a replaceable piece of backing plate and additional friction lining.”
Me: “Trick question; this is a one-room building for campers with bunk beds in it. Nice try.”
Glossary: “The interior people-space within a car.”
Me: “An emergency storage department that contains food high in both carbs and fiber. Probably Nature Valley granola bars.”
Glossary: “This is an ultra-light, but extremely strong material that has been used to manufacturer vehicle parts for road an racing cars.”
LeBron James Michael Jordan.”
Glossary: “This drivetrain component is found between the engine and the transmission. It acts as a coupling device which is used to engage and disengage the transmission from the engine when shifting gears.”
Me: “The part of the car’s inside that’s made of old guitar parts. It’s what makes the car make noise. Nailed it.”
Glossary: “A body panel that lies below either side of the bonet, between the front bumper and front-most door edge, encompassing the wheel space in-between.”
Me: “You know, when two cars lift their hoods up and connect the two claw things and blah blah blah I don’t know how to complete this simple task.”
Glossary: “To transfer electrical power from one car battery to another to enable the cars ignition system to startup, using jump leads.” (Like I said….)
Me: “It’s like a computer hard drive, but for your car. It’s a memory card that knows how to fix bad driving habits.”
Glossary: “A transmission gear with a ratio below 1:1, which improves fuel economy by reducing engine revolutions per minute at highway speeds.”
Me: “Another trick question. This is a meaningless grouping of letters ESPN uses to talk about Tom Brady’s doctored footballs. It’s impossible to apply this term to cars. Again, nice try.”
Glossary: “Acronym for pounds per square inch. A pressure measurement used in tire inflation and turbocharger boost.”
Me: “A specific part of the aforementioned cabin, this drink will hydrate you and give you your daily serving of vegetables in times of emergency.”
Glossary: “A vehicle with eight cylinders. The cylinders are divided into two banks, each of which is angled away from the other at the top, forming a ‘V’.” Can I get my V8 sugar free, please?
Something will definitely have to change in between now and 15 years down the road when I’m responsible for driving to Myrtle Beach with minivan full of my offspring and wife (no in-laws, please). If you couldn’t guess, I sure as hell can’t change a tire, and AAA is only helpful to a certain degree. I suppose having zero desire to ever take a spin in a Lamborghini or drop a couple thousand dollars on a dope new speaker system is okay, though I know I’ve gotta step up my game when it comes to elementary car knowledge sooner or later.
But until that time comes and my ignorance about cars can be cured by my family’s generous AAA coverage, deal with it..