SYNDICATED FEATURE -- Car owners who prefer to do their own mechanical work can save a lot of money compared to folks who bring their cars to the dealer. Before joining the legions of shade tree mechanics, the average do it yourself person needs some essential things: a set wrenches (preferably made in Pakistan), some knockoff Vise-Grips, a hammer (that old claw hammer with the wobbly head will do), and an assortment of well-worn screwdrivers. In a pinch though, a decent backyard mechanic can fix just about anything on his car -- armed only with a nice 8" Crescent wrench and some Band-Aids.
Unlike professional auto mechanics who are quite particular about their tools, the backyard shade tree mechanic really needs only one thing: a good solid shade tree. Pity the poor suburban guy who is relegated to fixing his car in the minimal shade provided by that Mimosa tree growing alongside the house. That flimsy thing wouldn't support a tied up hood, and more importantly, the shade from such a puny tree will leave you with fierce sunburn.
Some people prefer the dense shade provided by just about any of the maple varieties. Soon however, these people find out the hard way that the sap falling from these trees will ruin the finish on any car.
For some reason, more cars become abandoned junk cars when they are parked within the shade of a pine or spruce. Perhaps the gloomy atmosphere under such trees makes the do-it-yourself mechanic think that a good football game is time better spent than switching that transmission. Soon it's time to phone the auto recycler.
So, what is the perfect tree for the shade tree mechanic? An overwhelming number of mechanics prefer the Red Oak. This stately hardwood wins out in nearly every area. It provides good shade in the summer. (Who wants to repair cars in the winter?) Its limbs make a good place to tie off a cheap come-along for lifting engines-although those finicky OSHA safety inspectors do not recommend this. Beer even tastes better under a Red Oak, and shade tree mechanics prefer beer to soda pop by a margin of six to one. Even the falling acorns serve to remind the shade tree mechaninc that he should have finished all his mechanical projects by this time of the season.
In conclusion, if you want to do your own mechanical work right at your house, plant a nice oak tree. It will be ready to give shade and support in about 30 years - and in the meantime you can just take your car to the dealer and get gouged like everyone else.
DISCLAIMER: The author and Spoof take no responsibility for any of the "tips" provided in this article. Buy only top-quality tools, read all pertinent safety bulletins, and be sure to keep all your expensive tools locked up in your garage while you sit at the car dealer wondering what the bill is going to come to.