Episode 2 transcription: How much is too much for a DIY mechanic?

Introducing from the glove box an automotive podcast with Mike and Tony Tatich, the father-son team and owners of TMT Automotive in Northern Indiana. In today's episode, we talk about funny car repairs you can and can't handle and all sorts of car fluids.

Hello everybody this is Mike and Tony of From The Glove Box the father and son automotive shop owner team from Northern Indiana coming to you with a segment this week and stuff. Tony, what's going on? 

I'm stuck in the glove box with you, so it's kind of a dark place. 

All things drag racing

Well, my son's a larger man, so I don't think we're both stuck in a glove box unless it's really, really big, but anyhow a little bit about us again. We're automotive shop owners second generation father-son team in Northern Indiana with our service centers. You come to you and talk to you about many different subjects about cars. You know some of our fun favorite cars, some of the stuff on how to maintain your car and get a call in question and stuff too. So, I think this week, we want to open this up and talk about one of Tony and I's favorite racing sports, which is drag racing. We have grown up, I think, since Tony was how old? Tony when was the first NHRA drag race that you went to? 

Probably had to be 1988, the year I was born. Probably so, yes, living in Northern Indiana, our closest big home track is the US Nationals in Indianapolis. Wo we've spent a lot of time going down there and sniffing nitro and stuff, but I thought maybe today, we would talk about some of our favorite maybe funny cars top fuel. We do love the smell and nitro. It is a mechanic sport. They spend a lot of time to go run down the track

in what? Like four seconds at 325 miles an hour and a thousand feet. Now used to

be a quarter mile per quarter.  And how many feet are in a quarter mile Tony?

I think roughly 1320.

I think you're right too, so we love those and stuff do you recall some of the early funny cars and some of the early funny car drivers. I don't mean early back in a you know the ‘50s and ‘60s, but from you know, from a guy that's 33 years old you remember some of the favorite ones that come to mind for you? 

I remember the McDonald's car with Cruz Pedragon very early on. I remember the fast orange car with Witten-Basmore actually was at our local car quest in Bremen one time and I got to meet the driver there and stuff. I remember the Mountain Dew car with Tony Pedragon that he blew the body off about 400 feet in the air about halfway down the track at Indianapolis, but some of my favorite drag cars funny cars, of course, are there, but I like the Pro Mod class because a lot of times those are cars that have top fuel engines stuffed in them,  they're door-slamming cars, run five seconds and they're all over the track and have huge wrecks and very cool class.

So yeah and that is an expanding class and racing stuff, but you get to the funny cars. You think about you go back to that McDonald's car that team. Larry Miner owned that team, and we're businessmen too so we talk a lot about business. Did you know that guy was a potato farmer? That’s maybe the way he got the McDonald's sponsorship and maybe he sold a few potatoes to them,  but he had a top fuel car funny car and ran for quite a few years and stuff. I remember a lot too. 

You know the Don Perdom the snake a little before Tony's time. It's snake and the mongoose racing funny cars. Probably the one that was the coolest for Tony to talk about was the Bud King, Kenny Bernstein. What do you think about that? Tell them a couple of stories about some of your Bud King Kenny Bernstein meetings.

So Kenny Bernstein was his unique claim to fame was that he was the first driver to go 300 miles an hour. He was sponsored by Budweiser for many many years.

 I think at one point in time, he had the longest relationship with a single sponsor in all of sports period. I think the only one to beat him was Richard Petty. But other than that,  Kenny Bernstein had the longest running like 25 years in a row with Budweiser as a sponsor.  The thing that I like about drag racing and Kenny Bernstein, is that drag racers are always willing to take whatever time that they can give with their fans and do anything they can for their fans. So, when I was in eighth grade, I wrote Bernstein a letter and wanted to interview him for our local school announcements and do a Video.

I was able to go to Bernstein's pit and hang out with him for an afternoon, interview him one-on-one, tour the pit, be next to the car, be in the hospitality booth, do all that type of stuff just by writing the guy a letter and he was willing to take that time and do that. I don't know any other sport, any NASCAR car, anything motorsports-wise that the drivers are going to spend that amount of time and just take a young kid at that point in time that he doesn't really know and spend that time with them. 

You know the funniest that that's a true story is that we got to go down to Indianapolis on a Friday so Tony could interview him for his TV show at his local school, but the funny thing I remember was we had caller ID, then when my wife, Tony's mom answered the phone and saw the caller ID. It said bud King racing. We thought holy crap, you know it was Tony or Tony getting a call from Kenny Bernstein and it was.

It was his PR director, but what I really liked about Kenny Bernstein, he was an amazing marketing person. He marketed the crap out of his business and he used to own a chain of restaurants in Dallas, Texas, and a towing company, but the restaurant business was the Chelsea King. His simple philosophy was if somebody paid two dollars for my hamburger. I wanted him to walk out of that place thinking they got four bucks worth of food and he did everything with that. Whether it was his racing and there's a whole cool story about how he got the Budweiser sponsorship, but everything he did. He wanted everybody to leave feeling they got a ton more value than what they paid for.

And he was the epitome of that in drag racing and he did some amazing things. So that was one of my favorite parts. but funny cars are definitely an amazing thing to watch. If you don't know anything about drag racing you're sitting with this 5,000 horsepower engine. 10,000. Maybe five in old days but  I don't even know if they can technically figure out the horsepower. The thing sitting between your legs with a little thing called a firewall in between and it's an amazing experience the way they do. But we do like that because as automotive guys you get to go into the pits, you get to see a person, or this team take the engine apart, and now Tony they completely disassemble and reassemble an engine in between rounds on race day and how much time? 30 to 35 minutes. 30 to 35 minutes completely take the engine apart completely put it back together and pull back up to the strip to the line and run another thousand feet in four seconds and they do it all over again.

So that's why we like the sport, We're both have a short attention span so multiple runs every four seconds that's kind of nice.

And so all drag racers always say, if you have to make a left turn that means the race is over so but they make a quite a few turns keeping them going straight down, down the tracks. We've enjoyed that quite a bit, and that's our little take on our favorite cars funny cars.

When is a repair too much for a DIY mechanic?

Hey guys, this is a DIY kind of guy. How do I know when something is too much and I need to go to a shop? Thanks.

If I understand the question correctly. It's if I do some of the services myself,  if I'm in my garage or in my driveway and I'm doing some services on my car and I google this or that. Where is the fine line between what can I do myself? if I like doing some of that and when do I call a professional? And when do I get into? We always tease all my buddies they think they're carpenters and also think they're mechanics. I always tease my wife because she thinks she's a doctor. Where's the fine line between going to a professional and what you can do yourself? DIY and Google. Do you have any  thoughts on that Tony?

 One thought that comes to mind is a couple of years ago I had a client come in and asked why his timing belt was so expensive to change because he watched a YouTube video and the YouTube video showed that it could be done in seven minutes. And I asked him, “hey you mind if you come around to this side of the computer and pull up that video and show it to me?” And so he showed it to me. And the YouTube video, it showed how to do a timing belt which was a great video. The whole problem of the video though was the engine was outside the vehicle on an engine stand with nothing in the way and already had the timing cover off and the belt drive and everything else off the front of the engine.

So I think this goes back to the old analogy, just because it's on the internet doesn't necessarily mean that advice is great. There is good advice out there that’s great on YouTube channels out there for DIY types of stuff. There's certain things that I do believe that customers should be aware of how to change a tire, how to put a spare tire, and how to potentially do a brake job. However, that's changing rapidly with the advancement of computers and brakes. That’s a whole different topic. I really feel that to answer this question properly, it's up to the aptitude of the individual that's performing the work. If you feel comfortable doing what you're doing and you're willing to put your own life in your hands then proceed going on with it. If you feel like you're to a point where you have a question, I think you need to stop, put it back together and seek professional help. The other thing that I see a lot of times too is this.

A lot of times the the do-it-yourselfer will start into a project and do something, and he'll go to the local parts store. And the local parts store used to be a very knowledgeable resource for information on how to fix your car. A lot of times ex technicians, older guys have been around cars a lot, ex drag racers, were your local parts stores guys. Not any more. Parts stores don't have that type of intuitive knowledge of the individual behind the counter. It's younger guys that maybe are fresh out of college or fresh out of high school that doesn't have the knowledge on this is how you do this and this is how you do that.

Every store has a couple of knowledgeable people we have a couple in our hometown that are really good knowledgeable parts guys and stuff but those guys are getting older and older and there's not a new fresh young group that's coming into give you advice that way. That's where I think you need to turn to your automotive shop. We talked in the last episode that you need to pick a shop and really stick with the shop to develop that relationship deep and that's where you can turn to a good local automotive repair shop to get that advice if you are stuck in a situation that maybe you started and now you can't finish, and they can help you out that way. 

Yeah those are all good points because there again there's plenty of things that if you so choose you can work on your own car, but there are a lot of things that require special training, require special equipment, require you know special knowledge and understand this your home doctor has a lot more information, a lot more training than maybe web and MD and I'm not knocking any service but if I just Google something my doctor probably has a lot more information. We as professionals, do too. We have professional services for you know certain things that are going on with cars.  We have sites where we can know that a certain problem happens to a certain car many, many, many, many times, so we can check all those types of things. Most of the time when I Google anything about health, I'm more scared than I was, to begin with, and more scared than what the doctor's advice is and so yeah it's like those drug commercials on TV and they read the 50,000 side effects afterward. You think, holy crap, I wouldn't take any of that stuff. But in the big thing I think here to understand too is is as the modern vehicle evolves. You know brake jobs are coming down the pike. You're not gonna be able to do a brake job in your own driveway. You have to have a scanner to move the caliper pistons back because of how calipers are set up without going massively in-depth and stuff that way. Batteries are becoming harder and harder and more difficult to replace. Half the batteries aren't underneath the hood anymore. They're buried in floorboards and buried in fender wells and buried in the trunk and stuff like that. Then let alone most vehicles now we just changed a battery two days ago on a 2015 Toyota Camry in one of our stores and you had to put the car through a complete idle relearn to where the car actually would relearn its idle and everything.

Yeah so what Tony says with this your car forgets how to idle isn't that crazy just because you unhook the power, but literally there is a procedure that you have to go through on certain cars because it doesn't remember how to idle it's like it would be like the human body forgetting how to breathe and you got to retrain it but honestly those things happen.

To us as the professional. l it wasn't a big deal but if you're changing your battery in your driveway and you get in your car and all of a sudden the idols go into 2,000 rpms and back down to zero and 720 and bouncing all around and stuff. It's gonna be one of those moments where you're gonna be like oh crap what do I need to do here and you know there's just a lot of changing of stuff air filters cabin filters, wiper blades, brakes lights, headlights. A lot of people can handle a lot of those type of things but even headlights are getting more and more difficult now.

Well and that's the truth and we'll kind of wrap it up with this but yeah I've owned automotive service centers for 37 years and I probably you know even changing wiper blade.

What happened to you today with your headlights.

Oh you know this is a good true but I'll I'll tell you quickly there's a lot of those things that I won't even do anymore because there's complicated things we used to

replace bulbs for free now sometimes you got to take hours of terror take the

front bumper off, So here's an honest story I've got a Toyota Tundra. I had a level kit put in the front of it brought it up a couple inch and a half two inches. Whatever it was put some new tires on it and I'm driving home after my shop replaced those things, and I'm getting my rights flashed at me all the time I thought what the hell. I guess maybe I shouldn't say that word bad here but what the heck well we'll work with that maybe the editing company will catch that maybe not. So but I'm driving and you know but and so I'm thinking why I should I had my guys re-aim the headlights so if you can't see real well at night they can be re-aimed they can be cleaned all those things but in a Toyota Tundra. It's got a little lever, a little dial that you can adjust the height of the headlights and they do that on trucks especially because you pull a trailer back in drops front end points up in the air, which also throws your alignment off hold another subject we'll talk about that enough some other time but that little thing but Toyota on their vehicle there was just a little


So he comes in in the shop this morning says hey I need one of the guys to re-aim my headlights today I'm like why don't you just go hit the dial on the left side of the dash.

 So DIY or DIY there I could I could I could have adjusted my own headlights and I didn't even know that and I even own shops for all these years so anyhow I'll tell you this. Do what you can do you're comfortable with, but you know, have a professional shop or local shop that you do trust that you can go to when need be you're putting your loved ones your your wife, your family, your kids you know you're doing vacation and everything so these vehicles are three, four or five thousand pounds you're clicking down a road at 60 miles an hour. I remember when Tony got his driver's license many years ago, and the lady said I just gave you the license to the most lethal weapon that you'll ever own, and we have to remember that so make sure that you're safe out there, that you put your family in a safe and reliable car if you can do some of that yourself great. If you need professionals, make sure that you got one.

What other fluids do you need to change in your car besides oil?

Hey I know last time we talked about something we talked about this segment was everybody knows the oil change intervals whether your cars three thousand five thousand seventy-five hundred I mean there's cars out there at ten thousand miles. We won't go too deep in that don't really recommend that but anyhow here's a simple thing on oil. Oils cheaper than parts so change your oil a little more often and that's just a little tip by us but hey the thing we really want to talk about this in this segment was all the other fluids in the car. So man Tony and I are gonna go back and forth and we're gonna name off how many fluids, but before I start that how many fluids you think there are in a modern automobile. You know everybody knows oil you know gas you know all those things but Tony name off a couple fluids that are in a modern automobile.

You got transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant or antifreeze as some people like to call it transfer case fluid or all-wheel-drive fluid That's four. You have differential fluid some five front and rear differential five and six yeah. You have free on in the AC system yeah we call it you know the stuff that makes your ace air conditioning cold which for everybody out there cooling system for the engine and cooling system for the people inside two different systems yep. You have your fuel system yeah fuel obviously we have fuel we have that you know stuff that goes into the engine called gasoline and everybody complains about how much gas is a gallon but it takes X amount to do that we got power steering power steering on some cars more modern cars are going to electric steering but some still with electric steering have power steering have hydraulic over electric steering systems.

You have hybrid cars that have inverter fluid yeah which is another form of antifreeze or coolant yeah so there's if you have a hybrid car there's coolant the antifreeze type of stuff that goes around the hybrid battery to keep everything cool around that because that big old battery sitting underneath your car gets a lot of debris and gets dirty and stuff so what else.

We have washer fluid of course got to have washer fluid in the car you know so you know hey we're up to eight nine ten fluids and probably missed a couple but here's the thing most everybody of you out there know this you know pretty much when your oil change needs done you got the little sticker in a windshield your service center sends you a reminder and you know the owner's manual says this or that but you know that but the thing that's not talked about a lot is how often should I change coolant in the engine antifreez,  how often should I trade change transmission fluid, and all these different fluid. There's companies or manufacturers remember Tony that say fluid is its lube for life or its lifetime fluid. Well if you read deeper into some of those it's really the lifetime of the warranty, not the lifetime of the automobile which is the

the largest misconception that people don't understand when they buy a car. They think that everything in the owner's manual is exactly how you should service the vehicle and a lot of times that is true but there is times where that is not true in in biggest the biggest one that comes to mind recently is in 2006 all BMW transmissions were lifetime-filled transmissions well the fluid that they used in that transmission now is used in every single General Motors car that there is out. There it's called deck six and in that fluid is not a lifetime fluid, so to be honest with you, in that example with BMW, they didn't even show you in any type of Mitchell manual or any type of our information after-market how many courts the transmission even held because it was a lifetime fill top office required only, and realistically those transmissions are whatever the warranty is.

So at that point in time, if the manufacturer said hey we're gonna put a five-year hundred thousand mile powertrain warranty on it that's how long they expected the transmission to last, they never told the consumer that and the consumer never realized that that that led down a path of poor vehicle maintenance and led down a path of people almost back when you started driving in stuff when you had to rebuild an engine every 15 20,000 miles and you had to do valve jobs and quite that often, but maybe a hundred thousand Yeah 80,000 but you know tires when you started only lasted 10,000 miles you know there there.

We've made a lot of huge advancements in stuff the advancements that we've made is you can get three four hundred five hundred a thousand miles out of a car nowadays but you can't do it without doing maintenance and fluids is the lifeline of the maintenance of all the components that are in your vehicle. Like you said at the beginning fluids are a heck of a lot cheaper than hard parts are I would rather flush a transmission 15 times over the course of 300,000 miles it $200 a transmission flush then have to put a $5,000 transmission in a vehicle. 

Yeah those are good points and you did notice where Tony when you start listening our segments more always wants to kind of get the dig in that I'm an old dude so you know you got about four or five of those in there. I think I got a little piece of paper here. I'm those that's things that you write down on I'm keeping track of those but but Tony's right the fluids are important here's the basic thing about fluids and like a transmission fluid it's meant to keep medical metal particles floating out there and and and keep them from causing damage and it's also made to keep heat down so the number one abuser of transmissions and even breaks is heat.

So changing the fluid periodically takes the heat out so if you go to your local service center and it's 200 to 50 $300 for a transmission fluid flush it isn't for you're not buying a transmission fluid flush you're buying a transmission that doesn't fail prematurely. We used to change antifreeze or coolant because it would in the north it would get it would freeze well that's really not the case anymore with modern engines and aluminum and all the different things we have plastic pieces. Corrosion is the biggest problem so if you ever in most people don't realize impellers on water pumps now tanks on the side of radiators are all plastic. All that stuff used to be metal in in plastic and antifreeze. They don't mix over the course of time very well so by that corrosion will build up and you used to have a saying that you taught us that it was almost like barnacles on the bottom of a boat if we took the side tank of a radiator and cut it in half and looked at how that corrosion looks on the inside.

It's gonna be green and crusty and nasty and almost like the bottom of a boat that's not been cleaned for a long time well all that stuff's gonna float around if you don't clean that out and flush the cooling system very often. The other thing that I see happen often is water pump failures the impeller goes bad on the backside of the water pump because the impeller literally falls off because the plastic falls apart so if that happens think of your water pump like your heart. Your water pump pumps all the coolant through the entire engine through your heater system through your radiator through everything that way. If your heart fails just like your water pump you're gonna have a heart attack no blood's gonna flow nothing's gonna happen that way and that plastic impeller coming apart causes bigger issues.

Yeah that's very true and Tony's analogy of the boat we used to keep a boat at a local lake and when he got it out every fall you cleaned all the crap off the bottom of the boat that's set in the water. That's what your cooling system looks like inside if you don't clean it it causes gaskets to go out quicker, leaks to star,t and all sorts of negative damage and it caused them to be clogged up.

The last real quick piece I would say is the brake fluid flush. Every car every system on your car that has fluid goes in a full circle except for one and it's brakes. So it goes to your left rear wheel and your right rear wheel and it stops It does not cross over in most cars so it's important because all the gunk gets built up in the back so it's good to flush that out periodically so when you let your foot off the brake that the brakes release right away 

Also keep this in mind with brake fluid is on a lot of all-wheel-drive vehicles to keep you ever take a four-wheel-drive vehicle and you turn real tight in a parking lot when there's no ice and it jumps and hops and skips and does all that crazy stuff.

In an all-wheel-drive vehicle most cars now through the ABS system actually pulse your back brake calipers so those brakes are actually operating in the rear because the brake fluids are being pushed back there to keep the car from jumping and hopping and doing everything crazy that way which actually burns through brake fluid faster is also why a lot a lot of times on a brand new vehicle when you get your first brake job done you're replacing rear brakes before you're replacing front brakes . A lot of people ask that question when they come in: why are we replacing the rears instead of the fronts first?

That's part of the reason why in a lot of modern vehicles good good points there so get with your local service center make sure that they give you proper instructions on how to change these fluids on a regular basis. They don't need to be done near as often as oil, but they do need done every few years in service centers, good quality service centers can help you out with that.

Hey this is father and son team Mike and Tony Tadich just want to thank you for hanging out with us again today, so you got anything to wrap up, Tony?

It's a shut in the glove box time so we'll see you next time on the next episode. Take care everybody. 

Make sure you're here for our next one what do I need to fix if my check engine light is on have a question for Mike and Tony call it in at 888-201-0858. This podcast is brought to you by TMT Automotive and Momentum Drives Marketing.