Bimmer Lite - April 2009The things I do to show my car I care make others wonder
by Marc Biunno (aka Bimmer Lite)
Reprinted courtesy of Marc Biunno and Roundel Magazine
We, the automotively enthusiastic, are a funny species. We do things that make others scratch their heads, roll their eyes, and generally question our sanity. “Car people” have trouble communicating with the normal masses because we look at the world through a different lens. We are car people. We do things for our cars that show how much we care about them. We plan our weekend around washing our cars and organize social events for people with similar cars. They are not car people. They don't comprehend how important a parking space can be or how harmful a car wash actually is. They think cars are only for transportation and bumper stickers. They witness our behavior and scoff.
I submit: It's a Friday night, the movie theater's parking lot is packed, and you know you're going to have to make a good parking spot decision in order to keep your doors ding-free. It's called defensive parking, and it only makes sense to us – those who understand that strategic parking is a must. They – those who think parking is about being close to your destination – on the other hand, think you're a moron. So the process commences: you peruse every aisle, check out the well-lit options, use your deft eye-measuring technique to tell whether or not a space would leave enough room for your neighbors' doors to open without wounding your prized ride, and you stubbornly drive around until the movie ends or you finally find a parking space that suits your needs. Your companion? An eye-roll that says, “you're an idiot.”
Well, you're not an idiot because parking is really a science. You have to assess all of the possible dangers a prospective spot offers while balancing your ability to see into the future in order to make the best possible decision. I've always wanted to confront someone for parking too closely to me after I made what I thought was a prudent spot choice. Someday, someone will pay.
Parking only represents the tip of the iceberg for us. Our compulsions are as various as they are many, and each person has their favorites. Me? I like to strategize a parking spot like a chess move. I'm also partial to always having the correct tire for the proper occasion, lecturing innocent people on the evils of car washes, keeping my Mini off the street for commuting, and memorizing everything Mike Miller says I have to do to maintain my car.
Try explaining the need for winter tires to someone who thinks tires should last as long as the car does. You can bang your head against the wall of logic all you want, but all you'll get in return are eye-rolls. My favorite explanation is that “tires are like sneakers – you'd never try to play ice hockey in soccer cleats, so you'd never try to drive in snow with summer tires.” While the conversation should end there, it doesn't. “What's a summer tire?” Ugh, here we go. “You see, the compound is engineered to stay softer and be stickier for higher performance. You need higher performance in the summer and safety in the winter.” What's that? You mention “run-flats?” Run for cover . . .
Similarly, it's impossible to effectively relay the atrocities of typical car-washes. I try to explain it like this: “Imagine that you wake up in the morning on the average work day. You're feeling a little grimy, so you head towards the shower. But something is different this morning. Instead of your private, clean shower, you're suddenly in line for a gigantic public shower. You have to wait in line to fit your bare feet in some conveyor system so that you don't shower any longer than anyone else, even if you are dirtier. Once you're hooked up, you're moving inexorably towards the soaping, cleaning, rinsing, and drying machines. On it's face, this might not seem terrible, but now imagine that you're using the same sponges that everyone in front of you has used. Yea, all of the garbage that was on them is now being used to clean you! Gross! And let's not even mention the swirl marks that would show up on your skin.” What kind of person would knowingly put their car through something like that? Despite our damning arguments, the car wash industry seems to flourish. Who is feeding this mayhem? Them.
Or how about the incredibly logical decision to purchase a commuter car to keep miles off of your beloved auto? How can this even be questioned? They try to use some sort of weird argument like, “If you like the car, why don't you just drive it.” Ha! Drive it!? No, no, no, no, no – you let it sit during the week and let it play on the weekends, silly. And let's not ignore our need to ignore what BMW tells us to do. When my buddy and new CCA member, Joel Sheingold, recently joined the ranks of Bimmerphiles, he eventually asked me about oil change intervals. He was looking for guidance since the recommended intervals seemed long: “BMW recommends you follow the service counter.” Here I find myself referencing and quoting Mike Miller. I have never done a used oil analysis to determine which oil and which intervals are best for my Mini, but I use Red Line products every 5,000-7,000 miles because Mike says to. Mike says to hell with BMW's recommendations? I say to hell with them, too. Mike likes Red Line? Me too. When I read what he writes, I feel like he cares about my car as much as I do, so it's easy for me to break the norm on his suggestion.
And the list of “crazy” stuff we do goes on and on. But it all makes us unique and shows that we are committed to our cars. I will scour a parking lot for hours to find the perfect spot, curse car washes as I pass, let my Mini sit more than I drive it, and worship the Miller Bible of Maintenance (otherwise known as “The Old School Maintenance Schedule”). Is that weird? Sure, maybe to them.