DV Digital

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I Guess I Am Becoming a Car Guy?

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I took my E320 “the 210” in for some service at the excellent locally-owned repair shop, Masterclass Automotive this morning. I got the headlamp lenses swapped for spanking new Hellas and some odd DTC codes diagnosed.

A year or so ago, I didn’t know what a DTC code was and I sure as hell didn’t care. Am I becoming a ‘car guy’?

Those who have known me for more than a few months know, that for the longest time, I was a dedicated bus rider/taxicab user. I had a monthly Metropass (superseded by the Easy Card) for over ten years. Not out of any sense of financial restriction (well OK at some points of time, yes…), but more out of a sense of convenience.

However, during my temporary exile to Vegas, I was pretty much forced into getting a personal vehicle. Vegas has public transport, but it only covered about 30 percent of the valley, and even then only during daytime hours. Forget about nighttime buses.

At first, AMG was kind enough to provide me with a rental for the times I was actually on the ground in Vegas. It was a serviceable Ford Focus, and did the job as it were. But spending $2K+ a month to give me wheels didn’t quite fit their budget, so after my Tiësto tour gig and prior to me running out the lease in Vegas, I had to acquire my own vehicle. A few options presented themselves, most notably of which was the vehicle I now own, the Mercedes E320.

Now, not being a car expert as it were, I had to call on some assistance to evaluate the purchase. So, I called on a friend of mine out there who owned a shop, to help me evaluate the Benz. In not so many words, it turned out to be a gem. It ran stable and was a good performer for the price, and he left it at “If you don’t buy it, I will…”. So, sold! I was suddenly a Mercedes owner.

However, as it is an older vehicle, I was advised to get it serviced and any minor repairs dealt with. I guess this is where my inherent geekiness kicked in. Whenever I purchase a new device, be it a camera, lens, phone, laptop, hard drive, or whatever, I research the hell out of it. I look for the obvious pros and cons, and also any tweaks, upgrades, hacks, and tricks to getting the most out of the device.

But, I guess I never considered a car as being a “device”. Suddenly, this whole new world opened up to me. DTC codes, OBD-II ports, chassis numbers, ECU patches and upgrades, tire ratings, curb weights, bus voltages, optimal ranges for RPMs, fuel efficiency, horsepower, etc. It was like dissecting a computer component but there’s moving parts and physics to call into account too. I guess I got hooked. And, from a pure tech perspective, it’s great. I actually enjoy the research and the challenge of keeping the W210 up to spec and beyond.

Sidebar: Mercedes, like other manufacturers, typically assigns chassis numbers to certain classes of vehicles. For example, the W210 chassis encompasses the model years 1998-2002 and specifically the E320, E430, E300 turbodiesel, E55 AMG, and a few other models. Most enthusiasts of the brand refer to their cars by the chassis number in addition to the model number. Total geek thing.

But anyways, I guess my inherent need to break something down into it’s components and see how it all works comes into play. I found out that the headlamp lenses could be replaced, for example. And yes, the more you know, the more you can save by doing things yourself or getting a good lead on what the mechanic will be doing. Each headlamp lens I had swapped in this morning was $85.00 as opposed to $300.00 for the entire housing if I just went with a dealer.

I also actually plan on getting an OBD-II dongle which interfaces with my iPhone. More stats and numbers to obsess over.

And I guess somewhere along the way I started becoming a “car guy”. It’s a fun diversion.

Now, of course I’m smart about it. I really only drive when I have to, and I still avail myself of public options when it’s convenient or safe to do so, hence my retaining of my Easy Card and having a Car 2 Go membership. Keeping those options around (I switched my Easy Card to “refill when needed”) doesn’t cost any money unless you use it, so it’s nice to have a “B” and “C” option, and a “too cheap to ride a cab and am going out for a drink or five” option too.

So, some of the “old Pod” still remains. Go figure.