Sunday, December 18, 2011

37 Degrees

I am the first to admit that I am not good with cars. I am speaking of fixing them or keeping them properly maintained. I suppose I could be better at it, I am simply just not interested. And as I get older, and my memory gets worse, my car maintenance becomes more lacking. If there were a service to keep track of my car maintenance and drive my car to Jiffy Lube at the appointed times, ideally while I am at work, I would gladly pay for such a service.

Within two months of getting my current car, a 2005 Toyota Prius, I ran out of gas, not a great thing to do with any car, but really, really bad for a Prius. My beloved red 1990 Toyota Corolla met a similar but slightly worse fate when I bled it's lubrication system dry. (Not 100% my fault - the oil gauge had stopped working.) I also managed to blow out a very worn tire on this same vehicle, before it met its untimely end. The tow truck driver really blasted me for driving with having such worn tires, saying I was a menace on the road.

Yes, we drivers are responsible for making sure our cars are in good working order, lest we cause an accident due to poor auto maintenance. I am aware of this. But the thought just never crosses my mind to check my tires or my oil. On my older cars, I was used to bringing the vehicle into the mechanic every 15,000 miles, whereupon he would check the tires and the oil and the brakes and fluids and other important things. (Truth be told, I did change my oil in-between check-ups, although I wasn't religious about it.)

Because I know all of this, when a bright red flashing light starts blinking on my dashboard, I take it seriously. Out of gas? PULL OVER NOW screams the light. I get it.

And so, I was confused when an orange light began staring at me the other night from the dash. Not urgently critical, but still, it was a dash light, trying earnestly to tell me something that must have been important. I didn't understand the symbol, and had to pull over under a street light and pull the car manual out of the glove compartment.

37 Degrees. That's what the symbol means - 37 degrees outside temperature. Okey-dokey. What happens when the temperature drops to 37 degrees? I have absolutely no idea. This must mean something universal to the Japanese, but its a mystery to me. Perhaps if it was warning of freezing temperatures (as in "remember to put antifreeze in the coolant system") I could understand it. But 37 degrees? What the heck that mean? The manual was of no help in explaining why a dashboard light goes on at 37 degrees, as if everyone should know why this information is important.

It is December, that is true. Temperatures have been known to drop to freezing in December and January, at least overnight, even in California. But we usually don't panic about these things, unless we are headed to the mountains. Our daytime temperatures never stay below freezing, ever.

I am still at a loss as to the importance of this information, so if anyone out there has a clue, please let me know. In the meantime, my odometer says 94,000 miles, which is 34,000 miles since this car was last "tuned" up, which is about 4,000 miles overdue.

Anyone know a good mechanic in the Redwood City area?

1 comment:

  1. I just looked it up because I AM good with cars and I had never heard of that before (probably because where I learned to drive, it was rarely ABOVE 37 degrees)! Apparently it means beware of ice. If the air temperature falls to 37 degrees, it is likely that there are places where the ground is 32 degrees or below.