7 jokes just for car people
Just because we take cars seriously doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at ourselves. Jokes are a type of secret handshake, after all, based in common understanding and shared experience. If you tell a joke and the other person in the conversation does not get it, that reaction tells you just as much as if they laughed out loud. So let’s take a moment to call out a few of the “greatest hits” in the library of automotive jokes.
The 10mm socket
Where is that socket? How did it get there? How will I work without it? The answers to these questions are among the great mysteries of the automotive universe. If your favorite vintage cars are domestic, swap out 10mm for 1/2- or 7/16-inch, either wrench or socket.
Modern cars are riddled with 10mm fasteners, and the tool you use most frequently is likely to disappear first. The prevalance of 10mm bolts and nuts becomes a blessing and a curse: grabbing tools when starting a job or packing a road trip tool kit is quite simple, but one lost tool can cripple your night.
The ol’ 710
Engineers work tirelessly to balance form with the function we consumers expect in a car. Unfortunately, that balancing act is usually constrained by the “good, cheap, fast” triangle: You can only pick two.
The third part of the regular-car triangle is serviceability. Even experienced mechanics need a minute to get their bearings when looking around under an unfamiliar hood. A newbie? Before you know it, someone’s posting on r/cars: “I need to fill my oil but can only find the 710 cap.”
You know, 710 = OIL upside down. It’s all perspective.
“Ran when parked”
We all do a lot of digital (or real-life) window shopping, and we’ve all seen sellers who hide behind the phrase “ran when parked.” The circular nature of the phrase—you can’t park something that is not drivable—is humorous by itself, of course, and it is often found in the text of an ad selling the most decrepit hulk you’ve ever seen.
Sure, that vehicle might have run when you parked it … during the Reagan administration. Leaving a car parked is one of the worst things you can do if you want to maintain any value or function. Rot never sleeps, and neither do the vermin who make nests in intake manifolds.
The cruelness of Mother Nature knows no bounds. Much ink has been spilled over how to properly store a car in harsh seasons—be it the summer months for those in the desert regions or the winter months for those in the rust belt—but best of all are the humorous twists on that advice. Example A:
“I know what I’ve got”
Usually combined with a ludicrous asking price, the five-word phrase has become synonymous with an overconfident seller. In the same vein as the worst examples of a “ran when parked” seller, such a person is usually hoping the buyer does little or no independent research. Occasionally, a seller who knows what they’ve got is asking a reasonable price, more often, this phrase paints the seller in a negative light: Potential buyers expect that even good faith negotiations or discussion will be met gruffly, at best.
“It’s only a 15-minute job”
The lies we tell ourselves may stay secret, but this one got out, and we all collectively cringed—then laughed. There might be a real job that takes 15 minutes, but such projects are relatively rare. Often, jobs take longer than expected because the car has lived multiple lives: Broken hardware, corrosion, and questionable discoveries all complicate our estimated project timelines. Maybe our clocks just work differently when we are wrenching, and we think an hour was just 15 minutes? Who knows. It’s just another form of creative accounting.