Cool Vibes - Tire Review Magazine

Cool Vibes

Faulty Reading Puts Repair Tech in Hot Water

I was having a peaceful nap in my office chair when a horrendous noise nearly threw me to the floor.  Tooner’s hollering didn’t worry me as much as the large crescent wrench he was brandishing over his head. Fortunately, Beanie can run faster scared than Tooner can angry.

I found The Bean hiding behind a pile of old tires. “What’s this all about?” I whispered.

“I-I don’t know,” he squeaked. “Tooner’s gone nuts. All I did was offer him a granola bar and he lost it!”

“Hmm. I’d better see what’s going on.”

After sending Beanie out for some donuts, I brewed up a fresh pot of coffee and called a staff meeting.
“What’s the occasion?” muttered Tooner suspiciously, watching me add some French vanilla flavoring to the coffee pot. “It’s not like you to share yer private stash for no reason.”

“It’s Apprentice Appreciation Week,” I replied. “Except I don’t think you got the memo. Care to tell us what’s been eating you?”

He slouched down in his chair. “Aw, I’m sorry about losin’ it, Slim. An’ you too, Bean. I’m just worried ‘bout how Mabel’s been acting lately – it feels like I’m gettin’ the cold shoulder.”

“Sounds like the home fires are burning low,” observed Basil. “So what is it lately that you’ve done to annoy her?”

“I ain’t sure.” Tooner began counting on his fingers. “Let’s see…I forgot to put the toilet seat down for a week. An’ last Saturday I used one of her dish towels to check the oil in my truck.” He looked up suddenly. “D’ya think she’s ticked ‘cause I took out half her azaleas when I cut the lawn on Sunday?”

I shook my head. “Nope. Mabel’s used to that kind of stuff from you.”

Basil agreed. “It has to be something else. Think harder.”

But he drew a blank. Tooner has his faults, but nothing his tough little wife of 30 years can’t handle.
“How do you know she’s upset?” asked Beanie.

“D’ya think I don’t know my own wife?” Tooner sneered. “Believe me, Bean, I’m an expert on these things. When yer woman starts actin’ cool, you know it!”

I wasn’t buying Tooner’s claim that he could understand women; we’d seen him in action for far too long. “Why don’t you tell us exactly how Mabel’s been acting lately.”

He sighed. “Well, last week at breakfast she poured me grapefruit juice instead of coffee. Next, she burned my favorite slippers and bought me new ones – kin ya believe that?” He shook his head. “What really worries me is what happened last night…”

“Whoa there, Tooner!” I interrupted. “I don’t know if Beanie’s old enough for those kind of details.”

Beanie’s eyes were like saucers. “Go on, Toon! What happened next?”

Tooner glared at me and continued. “As I was sayin’, last night Mabel turned off the TV right in the middle of the playoffs – and said we were going for a walk!” He buried his face in his hands and groaned. “I don’t even know who I’m married to anymore…she used to really care about me.”

We knew Tooner was overreacting, but couldn’t convince him otherwise. By coincidence, the next job on the board only added to his troubles.

The 2005 Pontiac Vibe had come in for an inoperative A/C system, which wasn’t surprising, since the compressor had packed it in. Tooner got to work and replaced the compressor, accumulator and the condenser, and then recharged the system before going on a road test. He returned wearing a big scowl.

“I don’t get it,” he muttered. “It’s blowin’ 23 degrees outta the vents. How come everything I touch these days turns frosty?”

Beanie whistled. “23 degrees? That’s below freezing, which means the evaporator will ice up. That can’t be good for the system.”

Tooner sat down at the shop computer and pulled up the A/C system information from the GM repair manuals. “Accordin’ to this, there’s an evaporator core temperature switch that signals the PCM when to shut down the compressor. But it don’t say what temperature it cuts in at.” He pulled on his left ear. “All I know is, ya can’t run it this cold.”

Beanie climbed into the car and felt the outlet temperature with his hand. “Hey, Toon, are you sure this is 23 degrees? It doesn’t seem that cold to me.”

Tooner’s left hand began inching towards his large crescent wrench. “Are you trying to tell me that with all my years of experience I don’t know when an A/C system is blowin’ too cold?”

Basil jumped to Beanie’s rescue. “My dear Tooner, since we’re all here, let’s do a group check on the system pressures and see where they’re at.”

What we found was the low side running consistently at 30 psi, with the high side topping out at 295 – right where the pressures should be on a hot summer’s day. But when Tooner pointed his electronic temperature gauge at the vents again, it still read 23 degrees.

Basil opened the bottom drawer of his tool cab and took out a shiny new plastic box. Handing it to Tooner, he said, “Here, try my temperature gauge. I bought it on sale last winter from Big Stan’s Tool Van. It’s hardly been used.” He pointed at Tooner’s battered up electronic tester that was at least 10 years old. “No offense, but I think your unit has seen better days.”

Sure enough, Basil’s gauge gave a different reading – the vent temps now read 39.2 degrees. I slapped Tooner on the shoulder. “Houston, it looks like we don’t actually have a problem at all.”

In disgust, Tooner took his old temperature gauge and threw it in the trash. “I s’pose you’re gonna tell me there’s a moral to this story?”

“Try this on,” I said. “‘A faulty thermometer can get you into hot water.’ I suggest you buy some flowers for your wife on your way home tonight.”

Basil agreed. “Mabel hasn’t been giving you the cold shoulder, Tooner. She’s been trying to make you healthier so that she can have you around longer.” He shook his head. “Though for the life of me, I can’t imagine why.”

Rick Cogbill, a freelance writer and former shop owner in Summerland, B.C., has written The Car Side for a variety of trade magazines for the past 14 years. “A Fine Day for a Drive,” his first book based on the characters from this column, is now available for order at

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