Saving lives more important than saving pennies

by Tom and Ray Magliozzi :: posted in Click and Clack on August 26th, 2013
Dear Tom and Ray:
  I don't mind being called a sorry skinflint as long as I can justify my penny-pinching proclivities. I happen to believe that there are only so many "blinks" in a blinker. Therefore, I turn mine on only when absolutely necessary to signal another driver. For example, if I'm in a turn-only lane, I don't waste any blinks. Nor do I sit at a light with my blinker clicking and clacking, driving me nuts with the thought of all that wasted energy and technology until the light turns green. Am I right in my hypothesis, or do I need professional help? -- Randy
  TOM: I would lean toward the latter, Randy.
  RAY: I mean, of course you're right that all mechanical parts eventually wear out. But you have to consider the risk/reward equation for what you're doing.
  TOM: On the reward side, you might save a few bucks on light bulbs over the life of the car. You might.
  RAY: And while the flasher unit generally lasts the life of the vehicle, sometimes the directional switch on the steering-wheel stalk will fail before the car does. If your behavior makes it last the life of the car, then you can save a few bucks there, too.
  TOM: But here's something to keep in mind: You might not save any money. Let's say the typical directional bulb lasts 50,000 miles (that's a guess), and somehow you make yours last 60,000 miles, and the car lasts 150,000 miles. You may save 20 bucks because you only had to change the bulbs twice.
  RAY: But if the car happens to last 190,000 miles, you'll still replace the bulb three times in the life of the car. So you save nothing.
  TOM: And the risk you're assuming is way out of proportion to the possible reward. If failing to signal a turn causes some distracted driver to rear-end you, or some oncoming driver to not realize you're making a left turn (left-turn-only lanes aren't marked for people coming from the opposite direction), you could be out hundreds or thousands of dollars. Not to mention a couple of vertebrae.
  RAY: Plus the alimony from having this be the last straw for your long-suffering spouse.
  TOM: More importantly, the lives of automotive light bulbs are shortened much more by going over bumps and rattling the filaments than they are by blinking.
  RAY: So if you're really concerned about minimizing costs, don't drive, Randy. We know for a fact that you'll save money if your car spends its life sitting in your driveway.
  TOM: Or you can just relax a bit. That won't be easy, I'm sure, because you say that just thinking about wasting blinks makes you crazy. But try. We're all for being gentle and non-wasteful with mechanical objects, and we admire you for that instinct. But try to keep it just this side of the looney bin, Randy. 
  * * *
  Changing your oil regularly is the cheapest insurance you can buy for your car, but how often should you change it? Find out by ordering Tom and Ray's pamphlet "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!" Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Ruin, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
  ***
  Get more Click and Clack in their new book, "Ask Click and Clack: Answers from Car Talk." Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or email them by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.
  (c) 2013 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
  Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
  


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