Bubblicious to the Rescue

A creative approach to do-it-yourself auto repair

Jun 1, 1999
Outside Magazine

The art of out-in-the-boondocks automobile maintenance requires neither vast mechanical expertise nor a Zenlike attitude. With a little ingenuity and a few everyday accessories, you can turn an annoying breakdown into an opportunity to display your tough-guy survival skills.

PROBLEM: Mangled fan belt
YOUR MOVE: Cut the waistband off your Fruit of the Looms; it will serve as a replacement fan belt until you can reach a real mechanic. Practice a master-of-my-own-destiny look for when he discovers your fix.
PROBLEM: Leaky hose
YOUR MOVE: Thank the Lord for two words: duct tape. It's your best play if green goo starts squirting. Otherwise, try a condom or a wad of chewed gum held in place with Band-Aids.

PROBLEM: Dead battery
YOUR MOVE: Lucky drivers with manual transmissions, push-start. Those with automatics, you're people who need people. Signal to passing cars that you want a jump by raising both arms and pinching your fingers open and closed like a lobster. Still stranded? Wave a $20 bill.

PROBLEM: Steam rising from radiator
YOUR MOVE: Pull over, pronto. Allow the engine to cool before unscrewing the cap, then top off with water. If you're a truly well-prepared Boy Scout you'll have a bottle of Bars Leak sealant. If not, the nearest service station is likely to have this wondrous stuff.

PROBLEM: Dragging muffler
YOUR MOVE: A coat hanger, or any spare piece of wire, will save your hide. Wrap it around the muffler and fasten the ends to the undercarriage with a pair of boot laces.

PROBLEM: Stuckinthemiddleofnowherelateatnightwithouta cellphone!
YOUR MOVE: Remain calm. Be thankful you packed extra water, flares, and a flashlight. And pat yourself on the back for throwing a star-gazer's constellation guide and a flask of bourbon in the trunk before you left home.

PROBLEM: Keys locked in car, engine running
YOUR MOVE: Face it, you're an idiot. Just break a window and get on with it.

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