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Beware of Automotive Prank "Tips"

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Beware of Automotive Prank "Tips"

Bill Crittenden
11 March 2016


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A long-running internet hoax says that you can recharge your iPhone in a minute or less by putting it in a microwave. It hit its peak in 2014 when some jackass came up with an image that made it look like a legitimate new feature called Apple Wave for iOS 8.

Could people be dumb enough to actually do it? Well, plenty of people shared images of burned iPhones in microwaves, but those could have been old, obsolete phones burned as a joke. Maybe that's just me trying to tell myself that people couldn't possibly be dumb enough to put a metal cellular telephone in a microwave.

Like any successful prank it's spawned copycats, and these copycats have hit the automotive world.

Thanks to Nick Bratby for sending all but one of these after damn near tricking my niece into screwing up her car with one. Anyway, here's a collection of automotive-themed prank "tips" and a few words about each.

Gas cap hard to unscrew? Simply take your lighter and burn off the hardened residue that has built up inside the hole.

This should be pretty obvious. Gasoline vapors + open flame = fire. Well, it should be obvious, but apparently it isn't.

Icy windshield? Simply install sandpaper under wiper blades and turn wipers on full speed until you can see clearly.

This one might not be so obvious because you can wet sand paint down to a really shiny finish, and perhaps you thought that the glass is stronger than the sandpaper, but most people are going to stick a hard grit in there and etch the glass. That'll be annoying during the day but downright dangerous in the glare of incoming headlights at night.

Winter Tip #111: At night before your warmed up car gets cold, lay a soaking wet towel on the glass to hold in the heat. In the morning it will remove easily to reveal an unfrozen windshield.

I like this one. It requires a person completely bereft of intelligence to try and yet it still fairly harmless. It's just going to make a person really, really, really late for work waiting for the defroster to melt that towel off the glass.

Hell, if you have an old towel you don't need anymore and an annoying neighbor, it seems like it'd be a fun prank to pull.

Be sure to spray your wiper blades with WD-40 before winter to knee them from freezing and skipping across the windshield during the ice and snow.

Messy, but fairly harmless...unless you decide to try and drive with the smeary mess in your face.

Remove your front tires for better handling in the snow. The edges of the wheels will dig into the ice giving you precise steering.

I don't think anyone could possibly fall for this, but then I thought that nobody would use a lighter next to their open gas cap, too.

Thankfully, most people don't have the equipment to do this at home and any halfway decent tire shop guy will set a person straight.

Heat not working in your car? Run a hose from the muffler to the cabin. Use the hot exhaust to keep you and your family warm this holiday season.

This is pretty much the same as committing suicide by running a car in a garage with a towel blocking the door, just without the garage.

I'm really afraid that someone might do this to a car with a small child in it. Otherwise, I'd say let natural selection run its course!

Remember it's cold this time of year so ensure you keep your engine running whilst draining oil so it doesn't freeze.

This one should be pretty obvious to anyone who has worked on cars before, and thankfully it's not as easy as sandpaper on wiper blades for other people to do.

It's halfway plausible sounding because what you really want to do is warm up the oil by running the engine before changing it, so that the oil flows better and it drains more easily, but definitely shut that engine off before you pull the plug on the oil pan!

Tired of scraping ice off your windshield? Boil a bucket of water and throw directly on the windshield.

This sounds like the most plausible of the bunch, and you just might get lucky and not have anything bad happen...or the rapid change in temperature on one part of the glass may crack it.

Be sure to loosen your lug nuts for winter so they don't freeze to the wheel in case of a flat tire.

This is one of the shittier ones, because most people can find their spare tire wrench and not only cause damage but endanger the lives of pedestrians and other drivers.

Yeah, I had a tire pop in -10 degree weather. I couldn't get the lugs off with the standard spare tire tool. So you know what I had to do? I drove it 20 miles home on a flat tire, very slowly, along the side of the road. Damn, I'd love to not have to go through that again, but not torquing your wheels properly is flat out dangerous.

Don't end up like this. Change your summer air out to winter air to avoid freezing.

Plausibility level on this one is high, because you do often need to pump more air into your tires at the beginning of winter to compensate for the drop in pressure due to the change in temperature.

The only thing it will probably damage is your wallet, spent either feeding quarters into a gas station air pump or handed over $5 per tire to get the nitrogen fill at the dealership.

I'm guessing if one's gullible enough to fall for this, they're also gullible enough to buy nitrogen for their RAV4's tires.

Spring Tip: add one cup of water to each gallon of gas you put in your car. Not only will it help to cool the engine but the water will also clean the cylinders and cylinder walls.

This is the one that started it all in my family. Thankfully, alcohol absorbs water and our common 10% ethanol blend gas is what's making water-in-the-gas-tank problems a thing of the past. One cup per gallon it probably isn't enough to stall out a car and leave you stranded (80 oz. per ten gallons), but it's not a good idea for the long term health of your car.



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