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Thompson: A quick check can stop a runaway car

POSTED: July 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Last Saturday I had something very unique happen to me. I was traveling down Ga. 53 in my Jeep when I discovered that when I took my foot off of the accelerator, the vehicle didn't slow down. In fact the Jeep kept going at 50 miles per hour with no intention of slowing down. A normal person in this situation would have probably started screaming for mommy - but not the tip man. (OK, I never said I was modest). Remembering an old tip, I put my foot underneath the accelerator and pulled it towards me. This helped some. After applying a whole lot of brake, and driving up a hill, I was finally able to pull the vehicle off of the road and put the transmission in park. After a visual inspection of the engine, the problem was pretty obvious. A bunch of wasps had built a nest all around my throttle lever in the engine compartment. When I had accelerated, the lever went up into the nest and didn't want to come back down. Pulling the accelerator back with my foot had helped pull the lever partially out of the nest. So here's my tip of the day: Make sure you do a visual inspection of your engine on a regular basis. You never know what you might find.

Here's a cool little Web site that most people don't know about: Restaurant.com. You simply type in the ZIP code of the area you're interested in and you're given a listing of participating restaurants along with the ability to buy discount coupons for them. You can typically get a $25 gift certificate for less than $10. You can then print the specific restaurant's coupon from your computer. It's great to use at home, when you're traveling or even for gifts. (The savings can actually cover the cost of the gas to get there!)

If you have an ugly, gray, oil-stained cement garage floor, I highly recommend that you stain it. You can get concrete stain in a variety of colors, and it greatly enhances the look of your garage. It is also easily cleaned when dirty. Here's an important tip: Don't use concrete paint; only use concrete stain. Most concrete paints will flake or come off, especially when driving over them with hot car tires. Concrete stains, on the other hand, take little prep and are very durable. I've only run into one problem resulting from my stained garage floor. A bare cement garage floor simply absorbs the water that drips from your car's air conditioner. On a stained floor it will puddle up and will invariably flow to the lowest point in the floor. In my garage the puddle was right next to my driver's side door, and I had to step over it when getting into my car. The solution to this was to put a bead of clear caulk on the garage floor to act as a barrier to divert the water away.

Two of the nicest people I know, Ricky and Suzanne Moore, gave me a cool gadget for my birthday. It's the VacuVin pineapple slicer. This little baby allows you to peel, core and cut a pineapple in less than 30 seconds - I'm not joking. You just cut off the top of the pineapple, insert the VacuVin, and then turn it like a corkscrew. When you pull the VacuVin out the pineapple "meat" comes out with it - coreless. You can use the remaining shell as a drink holder or decoration. You can find the VacuVin online or at most kitchen accessory stores. The plastic version costs around $15 and the stainless steel one costs around $20.

Tim Thompson lives in Gainesville. E-mail Tim your ideas for tips, tools or tricks.



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