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What's (Still) Eatin' Yer Ride

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What's (Still) Eatin' Yer Ride

So about that mag chloride...

I hate doing research. It’s too much like watchin’ the news in that I always end up with a frown under my nose. 

Two winters ago, I stuck my ego out just long enough to buy a shiny new pickup and ever since I’ve  been worried sick about its well-being. I barely made it home from the dealership before a jealous Subaru threw a rock at my windshield causing not only a two-foot crack, but it also threw in a verbal tsunami that swamped my mood for weeks. Actually, I think I sprained something important (like my sense of humor).

Building on that was the dried out residue I kept seeing all over my pretty new paint, chrome, fake chrome, polished aluminum, lights, lenses, glass and vinyl from the sodium chloride bath it received twice daily on my typical to and fro.

So I did an essay with a similar title as this one where I vented some of my concerns and advised everyone including myself to make regular visits to the car wash to ward off corrosion and its ability to eat right through your wallet, your mood and your car’s resale value.

Well it turns out that I may have been wrong. I know! I can’t believe it either! It’s actually a lot worse than that.

According to one theory I ran across on the web, pressure washing simply forces this caustic solution deeper into your rig’s fittings and hiding places, causing even more damage. Actually, wouldn’t going 65 on blacktop through a salt-rich slurry be somewhat of a pressure washing in itself? 

By the way, the very next time you find yourself behind a plow with its deicer arms in operation, back off as far as you can without getting run over by a Peterbuilt full of pigs or wood chips, roll down your window, protrude noggin, retract it and roll up the window: now lick yer lips and tell me that doesn’t taste kinda like popcorn!

Anyways, their suggestion was to purchase (from them) the soap needed (with the right ph) to isolate the salt and neutralize its corrosive qualities so you can get in a decent night’s sleep.

If you use your vehicles in the winter, you’ll need an automatic car wash in your garage (using the right soap of course) and a batch of robo-gnomes to work on the finer details like alloy wheels, brake parts, tiny crevasses, paint chips and the veritable profusion of wiring hiding underneath.

Oh! Here’s a thought: if your rig is nice and clean before getting cured in salt brine for 20 to 30 minutes on the way to work, then turn up a muddy road which will undercoat nearly everything from the door handles on down; your fate is now sealed, or actually entombed.

‘Snow-birds’ take note, just because you skip out for a warmer winter doesn’t mean much. Now that you’re back (and hungry for some wild mushrooms, berries or brookies) and runnin’ up and down some of our more popular dirt roads, treated with magnesium chloride to control dust and irritated voters, a summer shower will turn this into a thick, gravy-like coating for your mechanic to play with later.

Similar to cats, bears, dogs and two-year-old kids, magnesium and sodium chlorides get into everything and eat their way back out! The next time you’re driving a wet and/or muddy road, picture how your ride is taking it. Oh yeah, I know, “Geeze, it’s only a vehicle, not one of my kids or something!” But with direct links to your wallet, it can be even more expensive than that if you ignore it. Stick your imagination down there next to the transfer case, where it will undoubtedly come to understand the forces we’re talkin’ about here. Better yet, duct tape yer phone down there and record the whole thing. Stream it on You-Tube if ya like, if there’s anything left of it by the time you remember where you put it.

It seems the more I read (surf), the more my temperament goes down the loo. It’s as though the only way to keep our rolling stock from rotting out would be to disassemble them on a regular basis, dry the parts after a thorough cleaning and neutralizing, then repaint and reassemble the whole mess before heading off to work again (or on a lark, in case you’re one of the new ‘independently unemployed’). 

If you think about it, maybe the ‘home car wash/neutralizer system’ would be cheaper in the long run.

If any of this sounds like too much trouble, you can do what our government does: simply ignore the side effects, auction off their inventories just before they crumble into piles of repair bills, conjure or print up some money and buy new ones. Oh, wait a minute… that’s illegal! So don’t do that. Just buy a new unit every three or four years, just before the paint starts to blister up or the brakes begin to fail and you’ll never have to worry about what to do with any extra money ever again!

If this sounds a little too expensive and/or enjoyable, try replacing a vehicle one or two parts at a time and notice what it does to your weekends. 

I don’t know how this correlates to rusty vehicles but roughly fifty years ago, the main drag in the little hamlet of West Yellowstone was so cratered with chuck holes that NASA came over from Craters of the Moon to prepare astronauts for the upcoming moon landing. The area dentist made a fortune in false teeth, shock absorbers were in short supply and a number of locals ended up with a permanent ‘lithp’ from talkin’ while driving.

Being a tourist town, we caught the media’s attention by introducing sport fishing to the traveling public. We did this by stocking rainbow trout in some of the more appropriate reservoirs. One of these was in front of one of my favorite hangouts, Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop on the corner of Madison and Canyon. This was also the 4th of July weekend!

When the county commissioners saw the front page of the Bozeman paper with a picture of some lucky kid pulling a nice trout out of a main roadway in their jurisdiction, well, they quickly decided to fill in all the fun we were havin’. It seems embarrassment is a pretty good laxative when it comes to bureaucratic progress.

How to use this knowledge to stop corrosion, I have yet to figure out.

If you have any ideas, leave ‘em on the outhouse wall below.

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Author info

Scott Clawson Scott Clawson No, he's not the electrician, he's the OTHER Scott Clawson, who's a quality builder when he's not busy busting a gut while writing his humor column for the first issue of each month, or drawing his Acres n' Pains cartoons.

Tagged as:

driving, road conditions, mag chloride, de-icer

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