Car talk

I have made no secret over the years that I don’t know much about cars.

I mean, I can do the basics, such as jump start a car or change a flat tire. But when it comes to most things under the hood, beyond refilling wiper fluid, I’m pretty much worthless.

Speaking of wipers, when I replace mine, I ask the folks at the store to install them. While I may be able to figure it out, the story advertises in great big letters that they install wipers, and I don’t want them to feel as if their vinyl letter budget was all for naught.

So it should come as no surprise to you that I do not change by own oil. I am afraid that if I tried to do that the end result would be a chemical spill in my driveway that requires my family to evacuate.

Thus, best left up to the pros.

Recently, the little gauge on my dash popped up that said my oil life was at 10 percent, which I took to mean it’s probably time for an oil change. I’m savvy that way.

I rolled into a shop near my office for a quick change. As I was handing my keys to the guy behind the counter, I mentioned, “Also, that little horseshoe light with the exclamation point…”

“The tire pressure indicator light?” he interrupted.


Now, a quick sidebar – I did in fact know what the light was for, as it had come on a few weeks prior, and I had checked my tires. I just couldn’t recall its precise name. That said, I had Googled the light and found that plenty of folks had the same issue, and they just lived with having the light on. So my tires were probably fine, but the pesky light just wouldn’t go away.

He told me that they would check the tire pressure, but that they could probably not turn the light off. However, he said after driving it a few miles it would probably go off by itself.

Sure, I thought. 

After about 30 minutes, my car was ready to roll. He told me that they could not, in fact, turn the light off, but assured me that it would most likely go off once I drove it above 25 mph for a few miles. That seemed specific enough to have merit.

It did not have an ounce of merit.

I drove my car well above 25 for well more than a few miles, and the light just shined back at me, gleaming in delight.

My first thought was just to resign myself to having this light on indefinitely, as countless other motorists had clearly done based on my exhaustive research of a single Google search which led me to a single auto repair message board.

But after a few days, I decided this was going to bug me way more than it should. I drove to a dealership and went into the service department. I explained my dilemma, and that the folks at the oil change place had been unable to turn the light off. She said, “Did you push the button on the dash?”

“The what on the where?”

She came out from behind the counter. “Can we go to your car?”

We walked outside together. She opened the driver’s side door and reached down on the left side of the dash and pushed a button that I swear I have never seen. The light  went out. “It’s recalibrated now.”

I said, “That was it?” 

She said, “That was it.”

So the light is now off. And while I still know that I know nearly nothing about cars, at least I now know how to turn that light off. Which is more than apparently most people.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at


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