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Mechanic Jay's Life Garage


"Fatty Alternator"

Article Posted: 8/2005


Dear Mechanic Jay,

I drive a 97 Buick Skylark which just got a brand new alternator. That's not my problem. It also got a new serpentine belt, which is weird, because that was last replaced in 2002 when the engine tore it to pieces. When I went to get my oil changed the guys showed me it was fraying a little, and said I should get it replaced. I am wondering if this is indicative of a bigger problem. The car has +171,000 miles on it, so I know it's only a matter of time before something big goes.

Also, sometimes when I make a hard turn the car makes a high squealing noise. What is that all about?

... Oh yeah, and my girlfriend is convinced she's fat, but she's not. WTF?

Dear Broke,

Serpentine belts (and belts in general) should be changed every couple of years. This will prevent them from getting torn to pieces and leaving you stranded somewhere. I replace my belts every 60K miles, along with a coolant flush, and new timing belt (Not Applicable to all cars). It's just one of those regular maintenance items that will prevent headaches in the future. The noise when you make a hard right could be a couple of things: It could be that power steering fluid is low, and the pump is freaking out when it is under a lot of stress. So the 1st thing is to check your power steering fluid. It could also be a suspension component in the front end that is worn out. The worse-case scenario is that the steering rack is on its way out, which would be one of those major things that you're afraid of. If the rack does go, you may need to contact Mechanic Jay to get you a price quote. It could also be a wheel bearing or a constant velocity joint (CV joint) in the front axel. Given the wide range of problems that this unspecific and general could indicate, getting this problem checked out by a trusted local mechanic would be a good idea, as this problem could be no big deal, or a really big deal.
Your final question about your girlfriend is actually the most difficult part. Mechanic Jay has also dated some who were convinced they were fat. In some cases there may have been a grain of truth to these women’s feeling, but I digress. She will always think that she's fat, period. And telling her that she is stupid for feeling fat, while tempting at times, is not a wise course of action. Just tell her that she is beautiful, that she is not fat, and that you love her. And if she is fat, don't tell her that you "love her just the way she is" or that "you're beautiful to me" because that is telling them that you love them even though you think they're fat. It is a problem that you just need to take in stride and try to ignore to the best of your abilities, because it is definitely one of the most frustrating parts about being with a woman. That is all the genius advice that Mechanic Jay has for you little gear heads and lovers today, so happy motoring and good lovin'.




I have an old beat up Jeep, that makes alot of noise and smells kind of bad. I love this car, but my girlfriend doesn't. She says it smells bad and refuses to ride in it. The worst part is, when ever we go anywhere, she insists that we take her car and that I drive it. The only problem is that her car is a Pink Dodge Neon, the girliest car ever. What should I do, dump the girl or dump the Jeep?

Smelly in Seattle




"Driveway Habitation"

Article Posted: 3/2005


Dear Mechanic Jay,

I have a 1989 Ford Escort, it is a good car but it has a few problems: 1) I can take the keys out of the ignition while the car is running and it doesn't turn the car off. 2) The front seats don't recline anymore. This causes a problem when I have to live in the car with my girlfriend in my parent's driveway. Plus my best friend has had sex in it, so I can't really sit in it the same way anymore. Please help.


Yipes…just yipes. Well, since you have technical questions, unlike our other reader this month, I will answer your questions. First off it is a Ford Escort, not "a good car". How you mistook this vehicle for a good car is quite beyond me.

The ignition switch is does not cause any immediate danger to you. You probably don't even need a key to start the car, although since it is an '89 Ford Escort, but it's my guess that you need to worry about theft. The real danger is that the switch will fail completely and you will get stuck somewhere…Although from the sound it of you spend most of your time living in your parents driveway, so I'm not sure moving the car is of great importance to you either. The switch is not an easy fix, nor is it cheap if done correctly. The correct way would be to get a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) coded switch from your local Ford dealership. This is the most expensive method, but will result in you being able to keep your current key. You other option would be to get a used one from a local bone yard (be sure you get the key with it). After you have the part you can 1) do it yourself or 2) pay your local guy to do it or 3) pay me to do it.

As for your seats, I find it difficult to believe that the seats in your car ever reclined. First you should check the back seat for anything blocking movement of the seat, such as your life's possessions. (I figure this is likely for you since you live in your car, with your girlfriend). Other popular seat blocking items include, trash, dead cats, missing friends. If nothing is obstructing the seat, and you're sure the problem is with the seat itself, then your best option is to get a couple of seats from a junk yard. They can probably be had for about $10-$20 each, and will come out by taking out four bolts.

Now let’s get to the non-technical issues with your vehicle. 1) You live in it with your girlfriend in your parent’s driveway…where to begin?

Okay your first job is to either get a job so you can get a place of your own (or at least a bigger car). Or do whatever it is that your mom wants you to do so you can live in the house. Because really is it worth living outside to get out of rubbing the corns on your moms feet nightly? Hmmm…okay, so like I said a bigger car or a place or your own. If your girlfriend will live with you in the car she is one of two things. The sweetest person in the world and will stick with you through think and thin, in which case good job, keep her. Or she is a certified psycho because she is content with living with you in your car in your parent's driveway, in which case, kick her out of your car and move on.

As for the best friend having sex in it, I hope that you weren't in the car when it happened or participating in the event (unless your friend is a hot chick, which seems unlikely). The only remedy for this is lots of Lysol, a steam cleaner, and a baseball bat. The first two items are for the car, the third for your friend. Your situation is so sad and pathetic that it is beyond my comprehension. I could go on for hours about how you should and can fix your life, but your puny intellect may not be able to absorb it all at once, so try these few things first, and write back soon.



"Ground Glass"

Article Posted: 3/2004


dear mechanic day,

i went to visit my buddy at school and i took my parents' car and parked it outside the house, and when i came back the back windshield was smashed by a rock. i think the train might have kicked some loose rock into the car, but i'm inclined to blame a stoner asshole who lives inside, because i don't like him. what should i do about the windshield, and does ground glass in coffee really work, over time?

1) It's Mechanic Jay.

2) You computer has a shift key, please use it.

3) As I have no real experience in killing people via substances in their coffee, or by any other means I might add, I am unable to answer your question.

4) As for your windshield, you should get it fixed. Sorry you have to pay someone for this, as it is a skill that takes a lot of practice. If done improperly it can lead to another broken windshield, water leaks, and glue all over the inside of your car, etc. Now if you happen to own a 15 year old beater, then you probably have all these problems already, in which case, go for it what have you got to loose, but since it is your parent's car, they may notice.

5) Now the smart thing would have been to get a police report on the incident, and then try to get Amtrak or whatever train runs on that line to pay for your windshield. Or if you have proof that the stoner did it take him to small claims court. Once again that would have been the smart thing to do, which seems like a challenge for the people who write to me.

Are there any intelligent people out there with questions?





Article Posted: 2/2004


Dear Mechanic Jay,
I own a 97 Buick Skylark and live with my parents. I don't get out much, and have been having trouble in the dating scene. What would you do to remedy this, and how do you know whether your wheels are out of alignment? Thanks.

(insert funny name here)

Dear Inserted,
Believe it or not, I once shared a similar problem. Not the problem of owning a 97 Buick, but the problem of having trouble on dating scene while living with my parents. I'll address your technical question first, as these are usually the easiest. Wheel alignments are an important part of regular maintenance of you vehicle. Having an alignment performed every couple of years is not a bad idea, especially if you happen to live in North Jersey where your front end gets hammered every winter with potholes that could eat a VW. It's impossible to get measurements of your camber, caster, toe, etc with out specialized tools and/or a lot of experience. But for the average person, you can perform the following tests on your car to get a general idea of how good (or bad) your alignment is. First, look at your tires, if one edge (inside or outside) is significantly more worn out than the other; chances are you have an alignment issue. Second is to inflate your tires to the proper pressure and drive down a straight road. Remove your hands from the wheel (please make sure that there is no traffic and or small children around) and observe the behavior of the car. If it stays more or less straight, then you're good. If the car pulls to one side or the other a lot, you may have an alignment issue. Take it to your local garage and see what they can do for you.

About this woman problem, the best remedy for dating (or lack there of) is to get out and meet people. It sounds like perhaps you are in little bit of a rut, so trying new things and going new places may help. The other thing that will help you is to move the hell out of your parents' house. This will help with your confidence and also, assuming that you meet a girl, you have a place to bring her back to. Now make sure that your place is neat, clean, and shows your personality. Not a barren wasteland with a bed in the corner that will provoke a C-3P0 like response of, "What a desolate place this is!"

Seriously, if the main obstacle to you finding a date, is that you frequent places like SMBFC.net instead of hanging out in the cool young people places around your town/city. So my final advice to you is to get off your computer, get out of your parents house, and go meet new people, even if it means coming to Jersey to do it. We have a lot of hot single women here, especially in the summer on the Boardwalk.



"Smelly Jeep"

Article Posted: 2/2004


I have an old beat up Jeep, that makes alot of noise and smells kind of bad. I love this car, but my girlfriend doesn't. She says it smells bad and refuses to ride in it. The worst part is, when ever we go anywhere, she insists that we take her car and that I drive it. The only problem is that her car is a Pink Dodge Neon, the girliest car ever. What should I do, dump the girl or dump the Jeep?

Smelly in Seattle


Dear Smelly,
It sounds like you are having a common problem. First off, it sounds like you are kind of a poor bastard. Not poor as in I feel sorry for you, but poor as in you have no money and probably try to sneak into the movies for free. Since you are poor, your house is probably nothing to write home about, if you even have a house. In fact, you seem like the kind of loser who is in his mid 20's and still living in his parent's basement. That being said, let's get to the subject of your car. Since your house clearly can not be your castle, your car must fulfill the role of your castle. This means that you should be taking better care of your car so that it doesn't smell. Clearly you are not the kind of person who cares about that sort of thing. What you should do first is clean out your car and find the source of the smell. Use caution as it may be considered a biohazard. My advice is to find some respect for you car and take care of it. That brings us to the issue with your woman. You have three options here.

1) Grow a pair and tell her that you are the man and that she can ride in your car because you refuse to drive her gay-mobile. This will result in two possibilities.

a) She will respect you and obey you like a good woman should. You win.

b) She seems more like the type that has a bigger pair than you could ever grow, will beat you into submission, and make your life a living hell. That or she will just break up with you. Either way you lose.

2) Clean your car and get rid of the smell which means that the two of you can take your car.

3) Keep your car, dump the woman, and find one who will appreciate you for your Jeep. Unfortunately that is also the kind of woman who probably attends Knight Realms and has crazy troll sex in the woods while making you watch. Once again, you lose.

After reviewing your situation I have come to the conclusion that no matter what you do you lose because you are a big loser. In fact, you should probably get in your Jeep and drive it off a cliff to end your miserable life. I hope this helps.


"I'll fix your shit eight times out of ten. Now serving number nine." - Mechanic Jay



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