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light on the brake, heavy on the gas

November 6, 2009

I had to take my car in for an oil change last week.  I dread anything vehicle related.  Even if it’s a simple oil change, it makes me feel sick to my stomach.  This visit was especially nauseating because I also needed the brakes checked.

“Just check them,” I said when I handed the key to my mechanic.  “The brakes have been squeaking.  Not all the time, but enough to make me nervous.  My budget is really tight right now and I need to know how much longer I can go on those brakes.”  There was that sick feeling again.  Yuck!

“We’ll check ’em out for ya,” the mechanic assured me.  Thankfully I trust this guy.  My brother recommended him several years back, and I’ve been taking my car there ever since.

Later in the day, I found myself at the same counter bracing myself for the worst.  “Well… how are my brakes?” I winced.  It was a good thing I hadn’t eaten lunch yet or I could have had serious issues.

“The brakes look great!”

“Really?”

“Yup!  We changed your oil, put air in the tires and checked the brakes.  They look fine.”

“So why do they squeak?”  I needed to know so I wouldn’t freak out every time I heard my brakes squeak in the future and to differentiate between ‘normal’ squeaking and ‘ok-now-it’s-time-to-get-new-brakes’ squeaking.

“Sometimes they just do.”

“I know that, but mine never did.  I usually hear it in the morning or when it’s cold and rainy.”

“You’re probably just light on your brakes,” the mechanic explained as he ran my card through the machine.  “When you don’t press really hard on your brakes, sometimes a glaze can form.  Not a big deal, but that’s where the squeak would come from.  When that happens just hit the brakes really hard a couple of times.  That’ll heat up the brakes and burn the glaze off there.  Sign here.”  He handed me a pen.

“Really?”  I asked as I tried to squeeze my incredibly long signature onto a tiny credit card machine receipt.  “That’s it?”

“Yup.”  The other guys behind the counter confirmed his diagnosis.  “You’re just light on the brakes.”

I thanked the mechanic and waited until I was out of the shop and on my way before allowing myself to laugh.  I’ve always been accused of being heavy on the gas.  Who would have thought I’d be light on the brakes?!  I was just relieved to walk out of the auto shop with a smile on my face instead of the usual grimace.

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