For Father’s Day: A Car Guy’s “Words To Live By”

Collage of old engravings“A Car Guy’s Words To Live By: Wisdom For Men Who Like To Fix Stuff” was a list I originally wrote as an in-store branding campaign for a national auto parts retailer. I’m resurrecting it here to mark Father’s Day and to honor the memory of my own dad.

James Frank Starr was sort of a Reluctant Car Guy, a man who worked hard but at a series of blue-collar jobs that left him too tired to go under the hood. He was, however, a loving and patient father and always took the time to teach me whatever he could about cars.

Like for instance about friction and the importance of proper lubrication, after that one time he made a turn and one of our wheels came off and kept rolling on down the street without us.

But my father aside, what is that thing inside us that so often seeks out the challenges of life, pushing us to do the hard thing? Sometimes going even further than just “to get up and do what needs to be done”, in the words of Garrison Keillor, or in the case of Car Guys, to do what really didn’t need to be done in the first place?

So this Father’s Day, in honor of my dad and Car Guy’s of all stripes, reluctant and otherwise, I offer my “Car Guy’s Words To Live By.”

  • Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to do so let’s work on the car.
  • A raised hood is not a distress signal. It’s a party invitation.
  • The only American Idle a Car Guy likes to watch is on his tachometer.
  • Where there’s smoke, there’s a nice weekend project.
  • If it ain’t broke, let’s figure out how come.
  • Real men don’t wait for check engine lights.
  • A lube job is nothing to leave in the hands of a stranger.
  • One man’s cardboard is another man’s crawler.
  • In Spring, a Car Guy’s fancy turns to upping his oil viscosity.
  • A radiator flush isn’t a right, it’s a privilege.
  • Nobody ever got shot with a grease gun.
  • Pulling together, we can pull an engine.
  • With jumper cables, as in life, always start with the positive.
  • Happiness is a warm gap gauge.
  • Fixing a car is like riding a bicycle, only more fun.
  • A filter wrench is a terrible thing to waste.
  • Inside every transmission you’ll find a mission.
  • You can’t make an omelet without warming up the manifold.
  • Engine failure is just an expression.

Got a Car-Guy dad, or other mildly OCD type in your life? Please feel free to share with them the entire list of A Car Guy’s Word’s To Live By. Just double-click the first word in the list and drag through the last word, then copy-and-paste the selection into an email.