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The Car With A Burrito For An Engine

June 23, 2015

My friend Caleb’s Facebook status sounded slightly desperate.

Help! My car just vomited radiator fluid all over my driveway. Is it safe to drive it to the mechanic? 

It was 9:30 on a Saturday night. Caleb and I used to literally be next door neighbors before we both moved. Neither one of us wanted to leave Pleasant Grove. We ended up in houses about a half mile apart. My friend is not a car guy. I asked him once about cars when we were first getting to know each other.

Say Caleb, do you know anything about cars?

Sure. I know my mechanic’s phone number. 

Am I a car guy? I’m not sure. I guess so. 

It took me nearly two years after starting this daily blog, and writing for my local paper that I finally became comfortable calling myself a writer. I just didn’t fit the image I had of someone who was a writer. But, the way you tell a writer is that they write. I guess I qualify. 

The way you tell a car guy is that they work on cars. I guess I qualify. But, I’ve still got lots to learn. So, I called my current next door neighbor who helped me do the partial rebuild on my engine earlier this year.

Hey Jonathan, I know it’s a little late, but do you have a few minutes to go help diagnose a friend’s car trouble?

Sure. I’ll be right over.

I realized I didn’t have Caleb’s new phone number. We showed up at his house at about 10:00 pm. I really hoped he was up and around. Then I remember that he’s a musician. No worries. They never go to bed early.

He was slightly shocked when we showed up in his driveway. 

Caleb, this is my friend Jonathan. He offered to come help diagnose your radiator issue. 

That’s when things took a turn I hadn’t expected. 

What are you good at? Are you a musician? Maybe a programmer? A marketer? A writer? 

We all have something that we are good at. I consider that I’m pretty good at leadership and management. I love managing people. I enjoy the challenge of molding a group of random individuals into a coherent team. But, when I start to think I’m pretty good at it, I will meet someone who is really good at it. Then, I think, “Wow, I’ve got a lot to learn.” 

My friend Caleb is a world class conductor. He leads a professional high school band called the Crescent Super Band. Yes, his band is made up of a group of teenagers. They are in Washington DC this week playing jazz at Blues Alley. Earlier this year, they played the Apollo. Last year they played Carnagie Hall. They’ve been nominated for grammies. They are really good. 

I don’t know a lot about jazz so I asked Caleb,

I want to learn more about jazz. What would you consider the five quintisential jazz albums I should start with? 

Give me your phone, I’ll write them down.

It’s okay if you put your band’s album on the list.

I’m not going to put my band on the list!

He’s really good, world class even, but there’s always someone better. It’s helps us know that we can get better. 

I’ve written before about “The Danger Of Being The Smartest Guy In The Room.” 

Back to Caleb’s driveway with the radiator fluid leaking out from under his car. 

Caleb, go ahead and pop the hood.

I’m not even sure I know how to do that. 

Here’s a picture of what the engine in my Lexus looks like. I’m very familiar with this engine. 

I’ve helped disassemble and reassemble literally every piece of it. It’s helped me learn to recognize parts on other engines. On the right is the battery and the air intake. The silver thing in the middle back is the intake manifold. The three black objects just below the “V6 3000 Four CAM 24” cover are three of the six sparkplugs. Below that is the exhaust manifold. I’m no expert, but I can at least feel my way around an engine. 

Here’s what we saw when we popped the hood on my friend’s Jaguar.

I didn’t recognize anything. I almost expected to see a sign saying “No User Servicable Parts Inside.” We couldn’t see anything. Is it a leaky hose that causing the radiator fluid on the driveway? Did the water pump fail? (Water pumps don’t actually pump water, they pump antifreeze and when they fail, the antifreeze leaks out the “weep” hole.”) We literally couldn’t tell.  Everything was hidden behind covers.

Maybe we can get a better view from the bottom?

 Nope. More covers. 

It was like an engine burrito.

Well, Caleb. Here’s the deal. To figure out what’s broken, we’d have to take off some of these panels. That’s not a problem, but it’s either going to be a broken hose which would be like twenty bucks, or it’s going to be a water pump which would be like two hundred bucks. Either way, it’s a repair.

You know what guys? It’s under warranty. I’m going out of town for a week. I’ll just have the dealership tow it and have them figure it out.

No matter how good you are, there’s always someone who is more experienced.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

One Comment
  1. It was a broken hose. Just so you know.

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