We got word this week that when Prince William borrowed his father’s Aston Martin DB6 Mark II to drive his new wife away from Buckingham Palace on their wedding day, he may have driven the sports car somewhat imperfectly.

In fact, he drove it with the parking brake on. Doesn’t that make you feel good? Prince William the Royal Navy helicopter pilot? His wedding day with a few people watching? His father’s prized ride, given to him by the Queen on his 21st birthday? Driving with the parking brake on? Come on? That’s good stuff…

Makes you feel better about your own car abuse issues, especially those involving other people’s cars.

Theoretical question: if you abuse somebody else’s car in the forest, and the owner doesn’t hear about it, did the abuse really happen? I say no. You’re actually doing the owner a favour by deciding it didn’t happen. Consider how awkward you would make them feel, if they had to ask you for monetary compensation?

 

Because cars can’t talk back, they can take a fair amount of mild abuse, before they are forced to retaliate somehow. Leaving the parking brake on is a fairly common and mild indiscretion. So is turning the engine on when it is already on. You get that wild screech, to remind you, and everyone within earshot, what a boneheaded move you just made — but you and your car seem to be able to recover quickly.

Another pain I’ve inflected on my cars over the years is turning the wipers on when they are frozen to the windshield. This can burn out a wiper motor, or strip the wiper transmission assembly. But worse is the knowledge that you just condemned the wipers and its power system to a few moments of silent, gut-busting misery, as they strain to move in the frozen ice. Horrible.

Once I drove my beloved original VW Beetle on the highway in third gear. I had the stereo so loud I didn’t realize the car was revving its little head off, until it was time to downshift to the gear I was already in. When I turned Deep Purple down, I could hear the VW wailing away like an airplane on take-off.

I enjoy looking after a vehicle’s maintenance needs, so you can’t accuse me, as you might of others, of abusing a vehicle through failing to provide the necessities of life.

Not saying it’s you, but there are owners out there who haven’t changed their vehicle’s engine oil or air filter since the Federal Liberals were in power.

And I’ve seen more than one owner driving around with their Check Engine light on, like it was just there as a suggestion, and not really a call to action.

If you’re one of those people, take heed of what happened to stand-up comedian Dobie Maxwell: “My Check Engine light came on today. But I couldn’t check it; there was too much smoke. Then the Game Over light came on. I hadn’t seen that one before.”

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