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Cleaning up Your Car's Act
by Rick Cogbill a.k.a. Slim Shambles

Cleaning up your car"Morning, Mr. Slim," said Annabelle Pringle crisply. "Here is the list of things my car needs today. Do your best, as always." She pushed the note across the counter and waited, arms crossed expectantly.

I glanced over the list. Miss Pringle was the most organized person in Slumberland, making her the most sought after member for any committee with an opening. Unfortunately, it also made her the least sought after single lady. Most men hate being organized by someone else.

"Hmm," I said, "I see you've got a nasty smell from under the hood. Let's take a look."

We went out to her '94 Buick, which was as spotless and shiny as the day it came out of The General's factory. I was tempted to put on white gloves before touching it, except I didn’t own any. Not white ones, anyway.

Annabelle gasped as I opened the hood. "My word! Look at that awful mess! How did that engine get so dirty?"

I took out my pocket flashlight and made a quick investigation. "Looks like you have an oil leak from the valve covers," I explained. "What you're smelling is oil burning when it leaks onto the hot exhaust manifolds. We'll have to replace the valve cover gaskets and shampoo the engine."

She frowned. "You know I want things in order, Mr. Slim, but does a minor oil leak cause any real harm?"

"Not if you catch it early," I said. "If left too long, the oil can ruin the insulation on the engine wiring, causing electrical problems. It can also damage the electronic sensors that control the engine." I pointed to the fan belt. "Oil will also damage the rubber belts and hoses, plus the buildup of dirt and grime can make the engine run hotter."

Miss Pringle was taking copious notes. She paused and pushed her bifocals back into place. "Can I wash the engine myself?"

I considered the prospect of a prim and proper lady like Annabelle blasting away at her engine with a car wash wand. "You can if you're careful, but there are some areas that shouldn't have high-pressure water forced into them. You might create a running problem that you didn't have before." I closed the hood. "If you have us do the job, we make sure nothing gets damaged."

She snapped her notebook shut. "Very well, Mr. Slim. Now drive me home, as I have to straighten out the carrot rows in my garden. They're sprouting up in the most disorganized manner."

Yep, if anyone ever does take a shine to Annabelle Pringle, at least they'll know where their socks are every morning.