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The Check Engine Light Is Making Me CRAZY!

September 20, 2016

I don’t know why people don’t do home canning as much anymore. You know, like our grandparents did.

For the same reason that people don’t change their own oil or fix their own cars.

Oh, why?


I love tools. I like the feel of a solid combination wrench. If you get up into the 18, 19 or 24mm range, there’s a heft to the wrench that just feels solid. I’m guessing you don’t own a 24mm combination wrench. I didn’t for a long time. I finally bought one because it fit the drive shaft bolt on my 96 Lexus. I was tired of not having the right sized wrench. 

How long does it take to change your oil at one of the many speciality shops? Fifteen minutes? (Less if you say NO to the added services they try to sell you on.) For $50 and a quarter of an hour, you can get your oil changed and back on your way. How long do you think it would take to change it yourself? Well, first you have to get the oil. Then, you have to get a pan or a bucket to catch the old oil. Oh, and don’t forget the filter. Now, you’re ready to start. You need a wrench to take out the drain plug. (It’s not going to be 24mm. Probably 1/2″ or about 15mm.) Then, while the oil is draining you will need another wrench, called an oil filter wrench, to remove the oil filter. You might have a 1/2″ wrench, I’m guessing you don’t have an oil filter wrench. It doesn’t even look like a wrench. It looks like this.

Tracking down all that stuff and buying it? Nah, it’s quicker to just pay to have it done. Except that it takes me about 10 minutes and only the cost of the oil and filter. I’ve even started having my kids do it. How can we do it so cheaply? Easy – tools. 

My point is that even if you how to change your oil. Even if you know the specific model number for the filter. Even if you know where the drain plug is located (it’s under the car just back of the engine slightly.) Even if you know all of that, you still need tools. And lacking the tools, the knowledge does you no good. 

You know that annoying Check Engine light? Yeah, I used to think there was something magical about it. Something that only the mechanics who had been initiated into the Secret Greasy Wrench Society knew about. Nope. It’s just an indication that your engine has something to say. You can buy a code reader and check and clear those codes yourself. 

It’s canning season in Utah. We’be done applesauce, peach jam and more applesauce. Yesterday we picked concord grapes. Today, we are canning them. the process is simple. 

  • Wash the grapes
  • Put them in a steamer
  • Draw out the juice
  • Put in canning jars in a steam canner for about 15 minutes

It’s simple. So, why don’t more people do it? Of course, there’s the question of where to get the grapes. (Thanks, Aunt Sharon!) But, once you have them, you need a steamer. In addition you need a bunch of canning jars. . .and rings. . .and lids. And then you need a steam canner. 

All for a couple of quarts of grape juice? No thanks. It’s way cheaper to buy it in the store. So, why do I can grape juice? The same reason I change my own oil and am rebuilding the engine on my Lexus. The same reason that your IT guy goes home and builds his own computer. Sure, he has the knowledge to do it. but, honestly, with youtube, everyone is 15 minutes away from being an expert. Find a video and they will walk you through the processBut, even if we get that knowledge, it’s the tools that make a difference. 

A few years ago my wife said, “Why don’t you buy some fishing gear and take the kids fishing? ” 

What are all of these WalMart charges? There’s like $150 worth?

Fishing gear.

I knew how to fish, but there are poles to buy. Bobbers and weights. Hooks and jigs. Powerbait and worms. Knives and hook removers. The tools needed to go fishing are important. Now when I want to take the kids fishing, we stop and get some worms and head for the river. It was expensive the first time. Now? Not as much. Why don’t more dad’s take their kids fishing? They lack the tools. 

Every hobby, every profession has it’s own set of tools. Tools without knowledge are just shiny paperweights. Knowledge without tools is frustration. As frustrating as driving around with the Check Engine light on. 

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

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