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Road Rush

I resolve to stop abusing my car in 2011 Add to ...

As 2010 draws to a close, I must make my automotive confession. Father, I have sinned. My engine oil is as black as a drug importer's heart, and yes, my snow tires were still on in August.

Lord, you know my trials - work deadlines, family events, sick cats, etc. And then there are the smoking-hot test cars that have turned my life into the automotive equivalent of Hugh Hefner's - our aging Hondas have been cruelly neglected while I tarried with an endless succession of young four-wheeled stunners.

I'm not proud of any of this. And I know my driving could use some work. But I promise that 2011 will be different. So here are my Automotive New Years Resolutions:

The Detroit Three turnaround headlines the hit parade

1. I will not succumb to road rage. No matter how harshly I am provoked, I shall cruise serenely on, ignoring the incompetent, careless, boneheaded fools I am forced to share the road with. Let their horns bray. Let their ignorant voices cry. I shall remain above the fray. My calmness will evoke Buddha on Valium after a four-hour yoga class. At least this is what I'm shooting for.

2. I will vacuum our car at least once every two weeks. This will mean moving my dedicated car vacuum back to the garage from its ongoing deployment in the cat litter room. The date of this move will depend on the results of the cat's recent medical tests, which should give me a better indication of how much longer the vacuum will be needed in its current location, and how much more of my car-care funds will be transferred to our veterinarian's offshore account.

3. I will check my tire pressure at least twice a week with a digital gauge. And I will install a new compressor in my garage so I can actually do something about it when my tires are low. This will be a major improvement on my current system, which is based on ignoring the tires and numbing my guilt with a few glasses of wine as required.

4. I will make my tools accessible by rebuilding my garage, holding a yard sale, and installing a complete new system of racks and shelving. There's not much point in having a Snap-On digital torque wrench if it's buried behind a cat travel case, a box of 1990's Halloween costumes and a heap of mould-ridden hockey bags.

5. I will put in a new garage floor slab that will allow me to jack up my car and put it on safety stands without risk of it falling off and crushing me like a cockroach. Once the car is on the stands, I will actually get beneath it, replace the sway bar bushings, and see if all the brake hoses are actually connected. (Given the car's current stopping performance, I have some doubts.)

6. I will log my mileage with absolute precision, and change the oil in my own garage at intervals of 5,000 kilometres or three months, whichever comes sooner. I will use only top-grade synthetic oil of the proper viscosity for the current season, and I will analyze the old oil after draining it, studying it for telltale metal shavings and streaks of coolant that impend mechanical disaster. My ability to live up to this promise will depend on my work schedule, my son's academic assistance needs, and the speed at which I'm able to rebuild the north section of our fence.

7. I will have the tires balanced and the front end aligned at least three times a year. I do know it's wrong to live with vibration that has left my night vision slightly wonky and persistent steering pull that has made my right bicep noticeably larger than my left. Living up to this promise will yield both improved tire life and a symmetrical torso, so I will do my very best.

8. I promise to actually swap the summer and winter wheels when the seasons change. I know it was wrong to leave the snow tires on all summer, since they have special, soft rubber that helps them stick to ice. But in my defence, please note that the seasonal changeover will entail cleaning out the garage (as mentioned in several previous pledges) so that I can actually reach the wheel rack, my toolbox, my hydraulic jack and the safety stands.

9. I promise not to park under the oak tree, since its winged seedpods fall down into the car's ventilation ducts, where they compost themselves, gradually creating a miniature farm that has proven a most fertile growing area for certain vegetable species that I have not yet managed to identify. Yes, I know that some of those plants are still growing down in our Honda's bowels despite my efforts with a bottle of Round-Up a few years back, but I do plan to set things right. If the weather gets good, and the garage gets done, and the cat's respiratory, dental and bowel issues don't force yet anther emergency run to the vet, I will take a weekend to disassemble the dash, remove the ducting and servo-actuated ventilation valves, clean out all the dirt, then reassemble everything. I will restore order as surely as Odysseus did upon his return from the Trojan War. Or at least I intend to.

10. Ignore promises one through nine. I promise I will sell our car, buy a new one, and start fresh. Check back with me in 10 years and I'll let you know how it went.

The Detroit Three turnaround headlines the hit parade

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