The “Free” 32 Point Inspection

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One of the oldest tricks used to sell people things is to offer them something for “free.” And one of the best examples of this bait-and-switch is the “free” 32 Point (or however many points) Inspection that you’ve probably seen offered by places that fix cars. It’s a tool used to fix you, of course.

If you’re a sucker, that is.

Actually, that’s not entirely fair. All of us are potential suckers when it comes to things we don’t know much about. Your Libertarian Car Guy, for instance, knows cars but knows next-to-nothing about computers. So, he is vulnerable to being sold a bag of bull by a computer fixer.

Similarly as regards those who don’t know much about cars, especially as regards their workings. Such people can be told all kinds of bull about their cars – and it can sound believable as well as alarming.

Show the sucker a dirty engine and tell him those leaky gaskets ought to be replaced – at $300 a pop. Imply that if they aren’t replaced, something really bad might happen. Do not tell the sucker that, as a car is driven, the engine will inevitably get dirty and minor oil seepage around valve/cam cover gaskets is inevitable, normal and harmless. Never explain the difference between nothing-to-worry-about seepage – and a genuinely serious pressurized leak.

Present broken-looking parts of unknown provenance and explain the urgency of immediate replacement. 

Bring forth a checklist of items the dealership recommends be serviced every so many miles and convey the importance of having every item serviced right away. You wouldn’t want to drive around in an unsafe car, would you?

The worst case scenario is agreeing to the automotive equivalent of exploratory surgery when all you thought you were going in for was a routine check-up. Once the car’s transmission is on the garage floor instead of in the car, it is hard to drive the car away for a second opinion.

But you have to lure ’em to scare ’em.

Enter the “free” however-many-point inspection. It is often offered along with what seems to be a really good deal on an oil change or tire rotation. And it often is – for the place making the offer. The psychology of the thing is well-known. People love to think they are getting something for nothing – hence the popularity of  “buy one, get one (here it comes) free.”

In fact, you’re usually paying for both in the higher cost of one.

When it comes to “free” (or unusually low-cost) oil changes what you’re actually getting is probably lowest-common-denominator “bulk” oil and the cheapest, lowest-quality filter the shop can buy. If you want to gauge how much a proper oil and filter change ought to cost, go price a quart of the brand and type of oil recommended by your car’s manufacturer and times that by the number of quarts your engine takes; then price the cost of a high-quality filter such as those made by Wix and Mobil1. Add it all up and reduce that by 10 percent to reflect the wholesale cost a shop pays – and then add back that ten percent to cover the shop’s labor cost to do the oil change and you will have an idea what a proper oil and filter change ought to cost.

If the shop is using name-brand oil and a quality filter but advertising they’ll only charge you $20 for it, anticipate the “free” inspection as part of the deal. Expect that you will be presented with a list of things that need doing – in order to make back the loss on the $20 oil and filter change.

Now, it is entirely possible that there is something that needs to be done. It might be something that could affect the safety of the vehicle. Not all shops are run by crooks – whether they fix cars or computers.

But if you don’t know what they’re talking about, it is easy to get talked into something.

There are two ways to prevent that from happening.

The first way is to know more about what you’ve got, even if just conversationally. If you sound informed when you bring your car – or your computer – in for work, it’s less likely you’ll be paying for work you don’t really need.

The second way is to not take whatever you’re told as gospel, especially if it comes “out of the blue” – i.e., you car (or computer) was working fine when you brought it in for some minor thing and they tell you it needs a major thing. Thank them for letting you know – and get a second opinion. If that opinion confirms the first, the first was probably legit.

If not, you might want to think twice before authorizing the repairs your car – or computer – may not need.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in! Or email me at if the @!** “ask Eric” button doesn’t work!

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  1. It’s not just auto mechanics that rip people off. I have found that doctors, dentists, lawyers, and realtors will also lie to you, push unnecessary products and services, use scare tactics, etc. The fact that these professionals are licensed and regulated by the government doesn’t make them honest. In fact, I believe it makes the problem worse, as people believe that government regulation weeds out the bad apples. The real purpose of government licensing and regulation of such professions is to keep out the competition. Consumers would be better served by no regulation, and a free and open market. Competition and choice would do a better job of keeping the crooks and incompetents out.

    • Almost 50 years old now, the book “The Screwing of the Average Man” lays it all out.

      The bit about when then the screwer becomes the screwed is classic, eventually the bankers and lawyers will be going to the auto mechanic or need to call a plumber.

      My father in law told me a story from the early ‘50s, he hired some heavy construction work done. Came time to settle up, the guy asked the FIL “Frank, what do you do for a living? “I’m a mail carrier”. “OK, I’ll send you a bill just pay by the end of the month will be fine. If you were a doctor or lawyer I’d demand payment now, they’re the worst for late or no pay”.

  2. Shops and mechanics with good word of mouth reputations for doing fair work for fair wages rarely advertise, since they are usually loaded up with repeat business. These are the places and people you have to dig and ask around to find. It may take some time to even get in to be seen, but your pocketbook and auto will thank you!!

  3. But wait, theres more!
    If you’re unlucky enough to be stuck in a saaaafety inspection state you’ll be hounded by thugs with guns to visit some shady ham-fisted f*cker who will undoubtedly find something to critique or outright fail your car for. The likelyhood of being eyeballed by the po-fleece and failed for frivolous sh*t by the grease gods seems to increase exponentially with your cars age, regardless of how well you maintain it. The auto repair industry is a den of vipers with very few exceptions. ALL licensed inspection stations rely on their mafia mandated victims to stay in business.

    • DeptOfSafety,

      Don’t forget emissions testing. Luckily, in Az, that’s ALL we must endure regarding inspections, and only if you tell them you live in the largest cities.

    • That’s right. Some shop in Virginia got me with the bright red sticker of doom once, the bastards, I’m pretty sure there was even time left in the month on my good sticker and they still put the fail over it anyway. Luckily my job was only 2 mins from home back then and my shop of choice was 1 min, if I remember correctly by some miracle I managed to drive it around as needed without getting harassed til I was able to get it sorted out by my trusted mechanic and have it reinspected. Hell of a scam if you can get in on it. It’s just for saaafety, no emissions standards south of Alexandria or so, they gotta take your $15.00 (probably $20+ now) and make sure your headlamps aren’t too grubby when you hit the highway to inhale all that gnarly exhaust on I-81 🙄

      EP is smart and drives an antique car so I doubt he’s had to deal with the red sticker shock. I remember reading how apparently the pigs are supposed to be trained in roadside inspections to harass ya on the spot, not sure if that counts as an actual fail sticker or is just revenue generation for them. It’s bizarre to even have to be contemplating this stuff, it’s all so unnecessary and people will no doubt inevitably point to it as a justification for government.. “if motorists weren’t mulcted how would we ensure their vehicles are saaaafe? *Tesla spontaenously combusts in background*”

      • Hi Moose!

        I used to live in Loudoun, so I know all about the Safety Shakedown. Even if it’s “only” $15 they still steal your time, which I resent even more. I’d almost rather just mail them $20 each year. Luckily, I don’t have to do either as my truck has Farm Use tags on it and in just five years it’ll be an Antique, too!

        • Nailed it lol, and yeah see, like I said, smart! And to think, if my little 93 Civic had made it just a little bit longer back in those days, it would’ve been an antique soon too. I remember seeing a lot of Farm Use tags out and about around the Noke, reckon they toss a few bails of hay in the back and run whatever errands they gotta get done no problem 😎

  4. What’s really tragic is the dealer that doesn’t understand the planned maintenance schedule for your rig. My 2018 Jeep GC is about 20k over the 30k “inspect transfer case fluid”. It went in 2 months ago under extended warranty for a new radiator, at that time I asked what the transfer case INSPECTION would cost. “Oh the axle and transfer case service is $480 plus tax”. Note the axles are not part of the 30k service check, it’s a transfer case fluid condition check not fluid swap.

    I didn’t argue, told them don’t bother, as I had enough trouble convincing them that yes the radiator was failing – “It passed pressure test”. For the third time I explained hot coolant smell outside the car, and if they would get an inspection mirror the wet corner top LH inside is easily visible. After a bit the service writer called back “oh yeah, we see it now”. Got my radiator and shockingly it is OK, plus they had to break into the ac to R&R the radiator and they managed to restore the ac with no leaks. Whew. The bill for this was close to $1600 so my extended coverage is paying off now.

    Last week same dealer sent me an email, time for new spark plugs you’re at 50k miles.
    No, it’s not due per the maintenance schedule. The labor involved is mind boggling I watched a video there is no way they’re getting my money for that – plumbing plus intake manifold take down I’ll do that one myself.

    I really feel bad for people on a tight budget that don’t know better and get sucked in by their BS.

  5. Seems to me the corporate or chain auto/tire places are the ones that do this more than not. Just happened to me too. Went in to a place I frequent (a state wide chain) for an oil change, and they called “you need this, this, this, and this” No thank you. Checked the ‘this’ and ‘that’ and they were brandy new. Obviously just a money grab. WTF. I learned that the once very good and respected general manager was gone.
    In every town/region, there are honest and good mechanics and tire places. Just have to find them. You end up calling them friends.

    • Those shops pay the techs incentives on top of the hourly wage to find problems, more work, service advisors the same thing, it is commission driven….$$$$$$….they are the parasite your bank account is the host….lol

    • Spot-on, Chris. After my father-in-law died a few years ago, my mother-in-law was having trouble with her car’s brand-new battery going dead. She took it to a tire & auto that her husband had been very loyal to, part of a large regional chain. Since they think I “know a lot about cars,” my sisters-in-law wanted me to talk to the shop about it on the phone (I live about an hour and a half away).
      The mechanic said they found that something in the radio was causing a continuous drain on the battery. That did not sound unreasonable. A new radio would have cost fairly big bucks, so I asked him whether they could simply disconnect it. At that point it became obvious by the way he talked to me that he was assuming I knew nothing about cars or electricity. Oh no, can’t disconnect it, because then the flugle valve won’t be able to actuate the muffler bearing – or something.
      When I reported on this to the family, our niece said, “Can’t they just take the fuse out?” They picked up the car and did just that. It still doesn’t have a working radio, but has been starting and running fine ever since.
      My wife and I do business with a local tire & auto that has just two stores. One time our 10-year-old car had a crack in the exhaust pipe between the engine and catalytic converter. The new part would have been several hundred bucks, but they volunteered that a local muffler shop could weld it for about 50. We will be sticking with them.

    • I was spending a few days at my sons house, and the daughter in law’s car needed some maintenance that they just don’t have time to do. So, I went to auto zone, got a new air filter, cabin filter and windshield wipers. Replaced them myself, checked all the fluids, belt, hoses, etc, all good. They don’t really have the facilities for changing oil though, so I figured ok, I’ll take it to the quick lube place, at least then I know everything is done. Guess what they tell me the car needed? Wipers, air filter and cabin filter! Oh, and transmission fluid flush too – it’s a Toyota with 38k on it, I don’t think so! Fuckin thieves. And in my experience, HVAC contractors, plumbers, electricians, they’re all the same. I’ve always been pretty handy, and I do most things around the house or car myself, but it really bugs me how the average person gets fucked so badly by all these people. Imagine the money wasted over a lifetime of trusting these con artists. One of my neighbors just told me how happy he is because his ac contractor just extended the life of his ac unit by several years. How’s that, I said? Well they put in a “kick start” on the compressor that makes it easier to start and so it’ll last longer! Really, how much was that? Only $400! Oh, you mean a slightly different capacitor that costs thirteen dollars and has 2 plug in connectors that takes literally 3 minutes to install? And doesn’t do shit unless your compressor is on its last legs anyway? It’s unbelievable to me how people allow themselves to get ripped off, over and over. Too bad I have some scruples, could have made a lot more money in my lifetime.

    • Corporate chains…..

      I had a two year old Honda Civic SI that I wanted the brakes fixed, one of these places quoted $1300 for the front brakes, I walked out of the service area and into the parts dept and bought brake pads for $35.

      I jacked up the car, removed the wheel, and took the top bolt out of the caliper, the caliper swings forward so you can remove the pads, just one bolt, I replaced the pads, a large clamp or pliers is required to push the brake cylinder in to clear the pads. I put the one bolt back in and was done, the rotors were almost new so didn’t require resurfacing. Total time maybe 25 minutes…..

      They replace everything, rotor, caliper and pads for $1300, this is more profitable for them, plus they warranty the work, so with all new parts, no warranty returns, smart….

      • Corporate chains…..

        The techs are really stupid, can’t diagnose a problem and aren’t paid to, they just use a parts cannon, keep replacing parts till they find the defective one or never fix it….lol…at your expense…..

      • Hi Anon,

        My sister took her ancient ’99 RX300 – inherited from our mother – to a shop for an oil change. The “service advisor” tried to get her to agree to pay close to $1,000 to have the cam cover gaskets and radiator/heater hoses replaced. She called me first, thankfully, to ask about it. I told her that unless there was a real leak – not just a little seepage – and that a monkey could replace the hoses, if needed (emphasis on that) for a about $100 (or less) in parts at a NAPA store and maybe an hour’s work … by her husband.

  6. Shop I and my family have frequented for about 20 years either made a mistake, or were deliberately trying to rip me off. Took in my car with an oil light on, they diagnosed it as main bearings gone bad, recommended a new engine. Drove it around for a couple weeks, changed the oil, the light went out. Got a second opinion, same thing, said it could last 500 miles, could last 5000, but it had front engine sounds, and low oil pressure, adds up to new engine.

    Drove it for a few months and 3000 miles, no trouble no loss of power or anything. Sold it. a year later it is still going strong, guy uses it for Lyft.

    I quit going to that shop.

    • Andy,

      I could be wrong… But even if the main bearings were going out, you could just replace them. I have an 2002 Nissan Sentra, and the main bearings cost $30. Of course, it takes some work, but not THAT much. Sure as hell not a NEW engine.

      Good work quitting those jackasses.

  7. A 32 point inspection on an EV will be worse then an ice inspection……

    Study: EVs Cost More to Repair, Less to Maintain

    Service Advantage Goes to Gas

    Service visits – those that involve diagnosing and repairing a problem – were a different story.

    During the first three months of ownership, EVs were 2.3 times as expensive to service as gasoline-powered cars. At the 12-month mark, repair costs were about 1.6 times what owners of gas-powered cars paid.
    It’s Not Parts. It’s Labor

    Why the extra expense?

    Because EV problems took longer to diagnose and repair. Technicians spent 1.5 times as many hours working on EVs as they did on gasoline-powered cars. And those technicians cost more, to begin with. Working on EVs requires additional certifications most mechanics don’t have. Those that do charge about 1.3 times the average hourly rate.

    Repairing Ev’s is a big problem now, nobody knows how to fix them, they are very dangerous to work on because of the very high voltage (lots of places won’t work on them for that reason), they are very complex compared to an internal combustion engine,

    they are new technology so people don’t understand them, so very difficult to diagnose. If you break down in L.A. there probably will be a repair place that can fix your EV, if you are in a small town somewhere good luck getting it fixed.

    In ice vehicles most places would do no diagnosis, tech’s won’t do it because they aren’t paid to do it, so why should they. They would use the parts cannon….just keep replacing parts hoping it fixes it, instead of doing diagnostics properly, the customer got robbed.
    Using the parts cannon on an EV could get expensive in a hurry, like a $4000 non returnable circuit board, it would be hard to hide your screw up.

    There is an additional cost for the EV owner: the tesla $22,000 battery is used up, worn out in 100,000 miles. this works out to $22.00 per 100 miles it is costing you for the battery. So the EV owner has to pay another $22.00 per 100 miles to pay for the battery, the ice car owner doesn’t have that extra cost.

    Experts Warn EV Owners May See Soaring Costs After Mechanics Realize They’re Losing Money

    According to Green Fleet, the company is considering whether or not to

    ATTENTION: implement an 89 percent increase in the labor rate for the servicing of EVs over ICE cars……lol
    pay almost double to fix your stupid ev……

    ATTENTION: don’t forget this….lol…
    Plus the cost of the battery, which is huge, you have to store the electricity in the very, very expensive battery, that is the killer for EV’s right there, the expensive, rapidly wearing out battery.
    the tesla $22,000 battery is used up, worn out in 100,000 miles.
    ATTENTION: this works out to $22.00 per 100 miles it is costing you for the battery.

    • H2ICE is better then a lithium fire bomb EV…

      A hydrogen burning ice engine is zero emission, the only emission is water from burning hydrogen.

      EV’s are not zero emission just building them has huge environmental impact:
      ATTENTION: This is really bad….Before the EV (with a 40 kWh battery) goes one foot the emissions/pollution just from manufacturing it equal to driving an ice diesel 89,400 km (50,550 miles), about 7 years driving.

      EV’s don’t just get electricity from a wall plug in reality to go 100 miles 4.80 gallons of fuel or 43 lb of coal were burnt to generate the electricity in the power station = 20.8 mpg.
      90% of electricity comes from burning hydrocarbons producing far more emissions then the new super clean ice gas or diesel vehicles with 0.0001% emissions.

      So, even though hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are popular now days because they are classified as zero emissions vehicles, the H2ICE still has a couple of advantages. For instance, the H2ICE is near-zero emissions, the only emission is water from burning hydrogen.

      A standard ICE can be converted to run on hydrogen including fittings and tanks for between $30,000 and $70,000, which is way below the price of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that costs in the $100,000’s to build.

      So, don’t count the H2ICE out just yet. It’s been here for over 200 years and chances are it will be around a little while longer.

      Some of the more well known H2ICE vehicles are the BMW Hydrogen 7, the Mazda vehicles, and several Ford models.

      The BMW Hydrogen 7 is a luxury car with an internal combustion engine that can burn either gasoline or super cooled liquid hydrogen fuel.

      Mazda has two vehicles, the RX8 Renesis RE Hydrogen and the Premacy RE Hydrogen that both have rotary engines and run on compressed hydrogen gas. According the Mazda the rotary engine is the perfect H2ICE because of its design which prevents knocking and pinging.

      The Mazda vehicles have been used in the cool regions of Norway for their Hynor hydrogen highway project. Ford has developed both fuel cell vehicles and H2ICE vehicles. The Ford Superchief F250 is actually a tri-fuel vehicle that can run on hydrogen, gasoline or E85 ethanol.

      Ford has also built and rolled out around 20 E-450 and F-450 H2ICE shuttle buses combined for various projects.

      In fact, the early history of H2ICE vehicles dates back to 1807 when Francois Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland built the first working model. It wasn’t until 1966, when GM put an experimental fuel cell inside its Electrovan that FCVs (fuel cell vehicles) began to catch on.

  8. This may be preaching to the choir but, I highly recommend finding your local community college and signing up for their introductory course on auto repair. It will probably cost you a few hundred bucks for tuition and books but, it will save you thousands over the year.

    Even if you don’t spin your own wrenches it will take away the “mystery” and make you a better consumer of auto repair services.

    It made me want to scream when taking in a new car for warranty maintenance and have the guy come to you in the waiting area wearing a white lab coat and carrying an aluminum clipboard. His attitude was a cross between Marcus Welby and Pete Malloy, “I’m an expert and only care about your safety” attitude made me want to puke…or punch him out.

  9. “Not all shops are run by crooks – whether they fix cars or computers.” -Eric the Peters

    Seems like MOST of them are. Find an honest mechanic? That’s a quest for the dauntless if there ever was one. Most of the time, when you have to go there, they seem to look at you with some kind of disgust, as though you’re vermin, and just there to cause them heartache, and it’ll almost be a burden for them to take advantage of your situation and milk you dry of every last dollar.

    I’ve probably said it before, but the most successful class of life form, if it could be classified as such, would be the parasites. So it is with humans!

    I don’t think there’s anything I hate more than the con man. Grifters, swindlers, whatever you want to call them: I hate such people with a passion! Like to throw every last one of them into a wood chipper!

    Apologies for the anger. Normally I’m a very peaceful and forgiving person, but I have a particular hatred for those who feed off of and destroy the trust of the common person.

    • BaDnOn:
      Theres quite the feedback loop that keeps this sorry state of affairs churning. Whenever an honest person runs a business inevitably grifters and swindlers take advantage. Only the shady f*cks stay in business by screwing over all their customers to cover the losses caused by nightmare clients. Whats the solution? Who knows. I just do everything myself or do without.

      • DOS, don’t lose hope. There are lots of brilliant and honest entrepreneurs out there. I just found another one recently who did a ton of high-quality work on my old ’95 Dodge Cummins and only charged me $1,300. Most business owners don’t want to live on the run from angry customers.
        Doing everything ourselves is a recipe for poverty and misery. Statists like to accuse libertarians of being selfish and anti-social, but in reality we are the ones who best understand how much people need one another.

      • DeptOfSafety,

        I believe you are quite correct. The vampires are in control of everything. In life, it’s the bad guys who usually win. And I’ve come up with that very solution. I do anything I can myself. Only guy I can trust these days.

      • Hi FU,

        A good friend of mine owns/runs his own repair shop. He’s an honest, competent mechanic who doesn’t suggest unnecessary repairs and does good work when it’s needed. He does ok on the strength of repeat business from people who have come to trust him. The big chains depend on volume – they don’t care if a given customer ever comes back. There are always new suckers coming…

        • Roland, Eric.

          I sure haven’t lost hope. Dealing with disappointing products and services set me on a path that made me wise to the worlds workings. If going to the professionals didn’t often result in expensive and irritating disappointment I would have never learned how to build and repair the necessities in life. If more people relied on their own wit and ability rather than calling the experts there would be less poverty and misery, not more. I couldn’t imagine anything more impoverishing or miserable than debt, and yet thats how the vast majority of westerners live. They refuse to rough it in the slightest way and it’s had an unimaginable ripple effect that brings us all down. I’m sure there’s some good businesses out there like your friends shop Eric. Unless you have no patch of grass to fix your own stuff why pay extra for somebody else to do it, unless you’re disabled. The labor and parts markup alone usually more than pay for the tools required and you get to keep the tools. The only thing I’ve paid somebody else to do on my cars for the past 15 years is tire mounting/balancing/disposal. The small fee is worth it and you don’t get upsold on cabin air filters.
          If you’re a patron of a business just because you think it’s noble to keep others afloat, just remember most of the people you see every day gladly took those gotdamn stimulus handouts out of your pocket. They’ll crucify you for not wanting to fund their “free” daycare for their zombified children too. Humanity largely consists of droves of parasites that lie, cheat and steal to feed off of each other. I don’t predate but I sure as hell don’t want to help out anybody that hasn’t truly shown they care about me. There are very few, and I do everything I can for them. When we get deeper into the cull you’ll find out who your true family is, the rest are opportunistic lampreys.


          • DOS, thanks for that. I don’t dispute that there are a lot of cheats out there. I am often disappointed when I have somebody do something for me. Construction projects are particularly nightmarish.
            Debt is a separate issue. Relying on somebody else to do work for you does not necessarily entail borrowing money. Besides, borrowing is not a bad thing always and everywhere. When you borrow, what you are buying with your interest payments is not money, but time. You are able to have a thing now instead of waiting until you have the means to pay cash for that thing or barter for it. For an entrepreneur, this might mean that you are able to start producing now instead of 10 or 20 years from now. Assuming that you produce something that consumers demand, this is a win-win-win. You, your customers, and the lender are all better off.
            My main point is one that I have tried to make many times on these pages, apparently not very successfully: I agree that it is a very good idea to know how to do things yourself, whether it’s fixing your car, growing vegetables, or raising chickens. But if you think you can do more than lead a miserable and short hand-to-mouth existence without the work of other people, you are deluded. Voluntary trade is essential to life as we know it. Without the division of labor, most of us would be dead very soon. Actually, we probably never would have been born in the first place. It is that important.
            I know how to make a lot of things, from the 3D-printed brackets that hold the keyboard I’m using right now to complex CNC-machined aircraft structural components. But I can’t honestly say that I made any of those things all by myself. Looking around my home right now, I cannot find one single physical thing that was not made possible by other entrepreneurs in pursuit of profit. Not even the tomatoes sitting on the kitchen counter. Try it yourself. When you find something that you did make, ask yourself whether you made the tools that you used. And did you mine the raw materials yourself? In the unlikely event that you did, did you make the excavator? Did you refine the fuel that it burned? If you have a garden, do you only use tools that you make yourself from things that you scavenge on your own from nature? Find one thing that you can honestly claim is entirely your own creation. You can’t. You might think you are self-sufficient, but in reality you are standing on the shoulders of thousands upon thousands of producers whom you will never know. Where did the car that you are fixing yourself – or that Eric is reviewing – come from in the first place?
            When Obama said “You didn’t make that,” of course he was full of crap. That’s because he meant that we can’t do without the wonderful benevolent government. Nonsense. But if you look at it from the perspective of voluntary trade and the division of labor, that statement is absolutely correct. I – by myself, without any help – haven’t made any of the things that I need to stay alive, let alone thrive.
            Libertarians would do well to study the economic concepts of absolute advantage and comparative advantage. Let’s say you are very good at hunting but not very skilled at growing vegetables. I am the opposite: I can run rings around you when it comes to raising vegetables, but I suck at hunting. It would be stupid for us to struggle independently of each other instead of cooperating. You spend all of your time hunting and I’ll spend all of my time in my garden. Then we trade, and we both are much better off.
            That is an example of absolute advantage. Comparative advantage is even more amazing. In essence, it says that even though one person might be superior at both tasks, his advantage in one of those tasks will never be exactly the same as his advantage in the other one. So by combining his efforts and trading with a group of people – even if every one of them has skills inferior to his – the group can produce a lot more than they could if they each worked independently. Even if I suck at every single task, there is still a place for me in the division of labor, and the group will be better off with me than without me. It is a miracle.
            So yes, learn to do things for yourself; there are tough times ahead. But don’t be content to withdraw into a life of seclusion and misery when the sons of bitches try to take from us the benefits of the division of labor and voluntary trade. Without these things we are doomed.

  10. A lot of the repairs and maintenance on cars I have done myself, I do all my own diagnostics. Some repairs I will have someone else do because I have no lift or garage to work in, I do repairs on the side of the road.

    Finding somebody to do a good job of fixing your car is difficult, lots of times it is done incorrectly and I have to fix the problem myself so I might as well do it myself and save money. One of my cars nobody would work on, it is an English kit car with an Italian drive train, so I do everything myself, these repair places only want quick easy profitable jobs on cars they are familiar with, if you get something oddball you might have to fix it yourself.

    • Re: anon-fix odd cars yourself

      Ain’t that the truth! I owned a Fiero for almost two decades. By the way the dirtbag mechanics acted you’d think I brought a Lamborghini to their po-dunk establishment. Nevermind that aside from the unique body everything was partsbin crapcan GremlinMotors. I learned how to wrench on that car and for the most part it was a piece of cake. Most mechanics are shystery hacks with a superiority complex and sh*t attitude.

  11. A friend of mine worked at an auto repair shop, he was told by the manager he had to find problems even if there was none or he would be fired. He left and has his own repair shop now.

    • I know it’s the same with HVAC contractors. Many of the techs are on commission. You don’t sell parts or new units, you don’t make any money.

  12. Eric, some things haven’t changed, but yes, there’s been deliberate OBSTRUFUCATION over the past three or so decades to make cars, more or less, unrepairable once they get to a certain age. We used to called it “planned obsolescence”. What’s frustrating is, it doesn’t have to be that way. If anything, modern computer controls have eliminated a great deal of the “plumbing” that frustrated mechanics starting in the 70s, along with, of course, by the mid to late 1980s, the carburetor in favor of throttle-body and later multi-port fuel injection setups. There’s little reason that a “shade tree” mechanic, with a digital multimeter, an indicator lamp, and a ODB II code reader, the lot which can be had for under $100, couldn’t diagnose which of the sensors is “throwing a code”.

    Of course, the “stealership” doesn’t WANT for you to fix your five-to-seven year old ride, just when you’ve paid it off, they want you to sign up for five to seven MORE years of making those payments. Or, if you insist on having your ride repaired, they’re going to make sure that not only you can’t fend for yourself, but that no competitor gets the important information necessary to function competently. What most dealerships and many of the bigger independents have gone to is a “service writer”, which you can translate as: SALESMAN. Their job is to sell you a “repair” you MIGHT need, or at least they can justify to any investigator, or, better yet, a service CONTRACT. They’re pushed all over the media, and even with those annoying “robo calls” on your cell phone…and ask yourself…WHY? In sales, we call it “FUD” – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. That ride that only a few years back the glib, fast-talking salesman “promised” was the answer to your motoring prayers is now a ticking time bomb, ready to be a 4,000 paperweight in your driveway.

    Sure, the old rides, you COULD understand, and some have enough of an aftermarket to keep viable as a daily driver…for NOW. So if you have that VW Beetle, Dodge Dart, or Chevy Nova, I’d say, STOCK UP on consumable items like points, condensors, plugs, filters, and so on. As long as you can LEGALLY register that vintage ride. Nothing to say that various “green” bureaucrats won’t try to take it off the road with the stroke of a pen.

    • It’s a mixed bag with them becoming black boxes. The cars with all their excessive complexity are still more reliable by many orders of magnitude. You used to always see them broken down on roads; now it is mostly wrecks. In the 90s as a youth I did all my own maintenance on my late 80s vintage cars. Back then a car hitting 100k miles meant it was on borrowed time.
      It mirrors my experience (along the same timeline) with custom built PCs. The technology advanced to where doing it yourself was no longer a pre-requisite and if you have the means not worth your time to do it. My passion for building (USFF) PCs returned, and that’s the only was I see one doing still their own car maintenance/repair.
      Do they make a Haynes manual for a Tesla or even a Bolt?

      • On an old car with points and condenser and a carburetor, standard transmission, it was easy to figure out what was wrong when problems started, these cars would start running worse before they became immobile, this gave you advance warning and time to fix it. If you always carried tools you could fix it on the side of the road.

        On the new cars there is no advanced warning usually, when a crank sensor goes the car quits, you have a brick, even with tools you can’t fix it unless you have a new sensor with you, on some cars the sensor is buried somewhere so good luck trying to replace it on the side of the road. Most people wouldn’t know it was the crank sensor problem anyways.

        The new EV’s are worse, nobody knows how to fix them….

        Experts Warn EV Owners May See Soaring Costs After Mechanics Realize They’re Losing Money

        According to Green Fleet, the company is considering whether or not to

        ATTENTION: implement an 89 percent increase in the labor rate for the servicing of EVs over ICE cars……lol
        pay almost double to fix your stupid ev……

        Because EV problems took longer to diagnose and repair. Technicians spent 1.5 times as many hours working on EVs as they did on gasoline-powered cars. And those technicians cost more, to begin with. Working on EVs requires additional certifications most mechanics don’t have. Those that do charge about 1.3 times the average hourly rate.

        32 point inspection on an EV = re mortgage your house….lol….and with house prices collapsing now you can’t even do that

  13. Went to Midas a few years back to get the front pipe replaced because it was really hard to access and I’m too old to be crawling under the car and also not a contortionist. It was obvious what I needed the moment I pulled in because you could hear it from a mile away, but they still did the “checklist” and I think it was 32 points. Of course they came up with a dozen or so things that “needed” to be done, all of which were BS. I thanked them and said I just wanted the exhaust done and I’ll come back another time for the rest, which of course I never did.

  14. There exists a similar thing in the plumbing business. You get a flyer in the mail, or a coupon in some book. “Free 16 point water heater inspection.” Or free HVAC inspection.

    If a company has to resort to such tactics to drum up business, best to steer clear.

  15. And the hits keep coming:

    First lady Jill Biden tests positive for COVID-19

    How many quad-vaxxed celebrity cases does it take … well, you know the rest.

    Get your FREE 32-point covid check today. Sponsored by your friends at Pfizer. 🙂

  16. Once upon a time, cars were not nearly so needlessly complex. It wasn’t that hard for the average person to get a handle on how it worked, and how to maintain it, though maybe not to work on it. Now when I look under the hood, I see things that I have no idea what they do, and in many cases can’t see them at all. Of course you can look on line and might discover what’s what and where. A problem I’ve managed to create for myself is that newer vehicles require so little maintenance, I forget to maintain them. I do keep track of oil changes, both crankcase and transmission, but in a modern car that’s almost ALL you need to keep track of. That and belts and hoses.

  17. If I lived anywhere near you I’d be happy to help you out with your computer(s). If not for actual “free” then like for a few eggs or maybe a beer. There are so many people familiar with computers these days, they really ought to help each other out. You don’t have to be a software engineer with 30+ years of experience (like me) to help each other out.

    And, even though cars need specialized equipment anymore, it’s always great to have somebody that knows more about car (and repairs, in particular) just to run any given situation by for advice.

    • Hi EM,

      I wish you were closer as I’d gratefully take you up on that! The past couple of weeks have been Hell, dealing with a spam assault (everyone here probably is well aware of this) which has had me watching the pages like a hawk and deleting them as they come in – so as to prevent them from dominating the comments area. Super frustrating – and time-wasting, too.

      • I feel your pain, Eric. I serve as the reluctant – and amateur – webmaster for a couple of organizations, and there is always something going wrong.
        So… to add to your grief: any chance of getting the subscription preferences working again? If memory serves, at one time I could choose to be notified of comments on an article without commenting myself, or to be notified only if someone replied to my comment. For a long time now I’ve been getting an Error 404 when I click the “subscribe without commenting” link. With the volume of comments here, blanket notification can overwhelm the inbox. But if someone takes the time to reply specifically to me, it would be nice to know about it.

  18. “Such people can be told all kinds of bull about their cars – and it can sound believable as well as alarming.”

    My dad always maintained his truck & mom’s car back in the day. One time he sent my mom into NAPA with a list. She came home with all high dollar components plus stuff she was bs’d into.

    Dad cleaned up, went into town (it was a small town then), & ripped the NAPA manager a new one for an employee taking advantage of a woman. Never did business there again.

    That was fifty-some years ago.

    • Reply to Mike:
      On YouTube you can find a video entitled “Rodney Dangerfield’s Guide To Auto Repair (1985)”. Funny but it explains what’s probably really going on when you bring stuff in for repairs.

  19. ‘the “free” 32 Point Inspection’ — eric

    With its 87,000 new Steuerprüfer, soon the IRS will offer a “free” 32-point tax compliance checkup. Better safe than sorry, even if you have to a write a check!

    As the Biden jackal gov puts the Inflation Reduction [sic] Act into effect today with its climate provisions, is this sad announcement merely coincidental:

    ‘Dodge will discontinue its gas-powered Challenger and Charger muscle cars at the end of next year, marking the end of an era for the brand as it starts to transition to electric vehicles.

    ‘Dodge parent company Stellantis ranks the worst among major manufacturers for U.S. corporate average fuel economy and carbon emissions.

    ‘Dodge is launching a litany of special vehicles and products to “celebrate” the end of the cars as they are today. Dodge’s plans include seven special-edition, or “buzz,” models; a commemorative “Last Call” under-hood plaque for all 2023 model-year vehicles; and a new dealer allocation process, among other measures.’ —

    ‘Worst CAFE and emissions’ … translation: this is a gov-sponsored smothering in the crib.

    ‘Celebrate [sic] the end of the cars’: that’s the sickest thing I ever heard of — about as ‘celebratory’ as loading dead babies into a freight car with a pitchfork.

    What is wrong with this gov-whipped picture?

    • Well, when I read that, I wonder “who in hell cares about their ‘average fuel economy’ or their ‘carbon emissions'”? I mean, in particular, people that are interested in a muscle car… of those people… who cares?!

      I hope Stellantis dies a miserable death. Same for Audi.

      Being a wagon guy, I’ve got my eye on a Benz E-wagon. Also, recently discovered the Genesis GV-70 has a 3.5T under the hood, bigger than even an Audi S6 which starts way over the price of the GV-70.

      Who write the laws anymore? I’ve read from numerous authors that congress doesn’t write laws. Industry lobby writes laws and bribes congress into passing them. This is entirely a self-inflicted gunshot wound. They deserve what’s coming to them.

    • Jim, I’m not a big fan of muscle cars but that news makes me sad nevertheless.
      (In keeping with the theme of Eric’s article, I will demonstrate below with an attempted href tag whether I know something, or next to nothing, about HTML. If I look like an idiot, well, there’s your answer.)
      Take a look at this nonsense from USA Today.
      The “study” is really just the effluent spat out by a computer model. Worse yet, that model assumes that the “extreme scenarios” predicted by yet another model actually come true.
      Then there’s this:
      “Long before climate change, California’s Great Flood of 1862 stretched up to 300 miles long and 60 miles across. According to the study, a similar flood now would displace 5 million to 10 million people, cut off the state’s major freeways for perhaps weeks or months with massive economic damage, and submerge major Central Valley cities as well as parts of Los Angeles.”
      So the historical event that they’re trying to scare everybody with occurred, by their own admission, “long before climate change.” How could that be if said “climate change” is what causes these things?
      Talk about suckers…

      • climate change….hahaha

        As This Chart Clearly Shows; Humans have nothing to do with climate change
        The climate change premise debunked.

        CO2 has risen since 1895 but there has been no warming, there is no global warming ….lol

        Climate change?….yes……..the sun has cycles, it has always had cycles since the beginning of time….what are you going to do about it moron?……

        We acknowledge full heartedly that the climate changes. However, the science shows that humans, animals, and C02 have nothing to do with it. The sun has cycles, it has had for millions of years

        CO2 does not cause global warming, people and CO2 don’t cause climate change.

        So they are taking away your food (meat), cars, money, assets, real estate and freedom based on a lie that you cause CO2 which causes global warming that causes climate change….lol

        Based on this they are eliminating/banning ice cars because they have .00001% emissions of CO2 that has no connection to anything….lol….but they lie and say it does…..

        the double-speak involved is intensely characteristic of the reversal of reality practiced by satanists… is white….. up is down….bad is good….no warming is warming

        do as we say not as we do……inversion typical of leftists…the rules don’t apply to them….
        leftists lie 24/7
        (the elite communist/globalists in control at the top will still drive Bugatti’s, own sixty cars, eat steak, fly in private jets, sail in 400 foot yachts, have billions of dollars and ten $50 million homes). you will own nothing….lol

        Demons invert/reverse all that they touch. The psychopath uses the same trick.
        leftist/communists = satanist.

    • @jim h- pretty soon they will take away everything we have to live for, then, finally, maybe some of the gun guys will unlimber their artillery and start taking these scum out.

  20. Nice article. I’ve got a buddy (not a car guy) that years ago brought his car into the stealership for scheduled maintenance and to be looked over and explained he was a little low on money and to just do the really important stuff. Well he got a bill of around a thousand bucks and when asked they told him it was all really important stuff, funny thing was I didn’t see much of any actual critical repairs or service performed. He of course never went back. Years later he would use the quick lube place and get my mechanic to look at it in the fall. Well last year it developed a noise and he never mentioned it to me or to the stealership and just ignored it. You could hear this noise easily without driving far. Well when it finally went in to the mechanic it turns out to be in the rear diff and by now the warranty was expired. Find a good shop who will actually test drive every car and don’t forget to get them to do full inspection before your warranty runs out.


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