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Service Engine NOW

If someone tells you to do something “soon,” how likely are you actually going to get to it sooner rather than later?  Not very.  Soon gives you free range to interpret its meaning in your own way, because everyone knows that soon means different things to different people.  I may say that I’ll be going to the store soon, meaning within the next few days, while you may be thinking within the next half hour.  It’s all relative.  That’s why I think that the “service engine soon” light needs an overhaul. That’s why I propose that there should be three service engine lights, sort of like a stop light.

A picture of an engine that lights up green: Everything is hunkey dorey and you can continue driving your car no worries.

A picture of an engine that lights up yellow: All is not as it should be, and you need to address the car’s maintenance “soon.” Refill the wiper fluid, change a burned out light bulb, change an oxygen sensor that really does nothing, or get an oil change since it’s been 3,000 or 5,000 miles.  Things that won’t make your car fall apart on the highway at that instant but should be taken care of “soon.”

Then, there would be a picture of an engine that lights up red. This is panic mode: your radiator has sprung a leak, cylinder 3 is not firing, a squirrel has chewed through an important wire, your car is running so lean that you’re about to throw a rod, your transmission is five seconds from falling out of the bottom of the car; basically, your car is F’d and you better do something immediately.

The current system lacks urgency and is characterized by excessive ambiguity. Service engine soon?  Sure thing, I’ll get around to that next month.


August 11, 2010 - Posted by | opinion, writing | ,

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