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When Should You Correct Someone About Car Things?

Aa Bmwford
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I suspect that nearly everyone reading right now has been in this situation before: you’re talking amicably about car and car-adjacent things with people, and it’s all going great, a vibrant exchange of ideas and thoughts. Then it happens: someone says something that you know to be factually wrong. You can feel the inaccuracy in your gut. Do you derail the flow of the conversation to correct it, or just let it go? I was just in this situation recently, so it’s fresh in my mind.

I was taking the $500 Toyota Sienna David so kindly gifted me/ditched here over to a shop to get it properly aligned. The Sienna is fantastic, by the way, way better than a $500 car has any right to be, but it still needed an alignment. While talking to the guy at the desk about the Sienna and other car stuff, he said something that stopped my brain like holding down the reset button on a game console: he told me that things were worse in the car-servicing biz now that BMW owns Ford.

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Uhh. Buddy. BMW doesn’t own Ford. BMW owns Mini and Rolls-Royce, sure, but Ford? No. I couldn’t even think of where he may have gotten that idea; it’s not like, say, Toyota and BMW, who collaborated on the new Supra, so you may see BMW-stamped parts in a Supra. I can’t think of any BMW/Ford collaboration other than the recent EV charging network thing.

Confused, I asked, “Wait. You said BMW owns Ford?” just to be sure I heard right. And, yes, that’s what he said, and elaborated on that a bit, noting that there were BMW parts in Fords now.

So, at this point I’m wondering should I correct him? And if I do, will I need to state my status as a Bigshot Professional Automotive Writer Person-Human to give my correction the required gravitas? Or will that make me just look like a jerk? And will my correcting this guy make him feel demeaned and embarrassed in his own shop?

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I mean, some things you have to correct – safety stuff, of course, if someone says you can use old pie tins as cheap brake rotor replacements, that you should correct. But if someone is talking and says that the Pontiac Tempest’s Rope Drive was licensed from Saab, do you need to correct them?

Oh, and I didn’t correct the BMW-owns-Ford guy. It just didn’t seem right to do that to him at the moment? Besides, I don’t think him thinking that will really hurt anybody.

I mean, I sure as hell would want to, and if it was someone I knew pretty well, I would. I think in most situations I would, but there are times where correcting a minor inaccuracy maybe just doesn’t feel worth it? Or is truth the only real arbiter? I mean, when I am wrong about something, I want to know! Correct away!

What do you think? Do you correct every wrong thing you hear, or should you just let some things go? Tell us what you think in the comments! Hell, correct people with the wrong opinions if you want! Have at it!

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Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
22 days ago

Well it depends. If the person in front of me is open to learning stuff I will correct him, especially if he’s wrong about the technical aspects of antomotivedom. I really don’t like when someone is flat out wrong about the science of cars because the many misconceptions floating around made it harder for me to learn about this stuff.

However, if some old dude is raving about epoxy resin as a proper fix for rust because it saved his old British iron, I just don’t bother. Correcting him now would make him regret “fixing” his heap, and make me look like a hollier than thou ass. Had he been curious about the proper restoration process, he’d have learned on his own.

LTDScott
LTDScott
22 days ago

Well I’m known as “Scottopedia” at work, so guess which way I lean? But it depends on the severity of the flub and where it is.

On the internet I will likely correct you (as some people here likely know already – when’s the next trivia session?). I don’t care about the perception of being a know-it-all, but part of the deal there is also being graceful when someone corrects me.

In person I pick my battles, but I still have no problem asserting my knowledge diplomatically if I think the situation dictates it. I absolutely would have called out the BMW-Ford guy, and then bombared him with evidence supporting my point, which thankfully is in my pocket thanks to the internet.

Shooting Brake Advocate
Shooting Brake Advocate
22 days ago

My ex’s mother was absolutely convinced you’re supposed to stand on the clutch and leave a car in gear. Her reasoning was that it was so you would/wouldn’t get moved around if you were hit (I can’t remember which) and she wasn’t having it when I told her that would just burn out your clutch. She went on to tell me that’s how she drove her Javelin for [tens of thousands of miles] and when her husband started driving it, the clutch failed.

I dropped it, and asked my ex that she please not drive my cars like that – which she fortunately agreed to.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
22 days ago

My mom has a friend who likes to let her car sit in the garage for weeks without driving it because she thinks it will last longer that way. Mom and I tried to convince her otherwise, and she finally agreed that it should be driven – up and down the (very short) driveway a few times every other week or so.

I give up.

Ethan Y
Ethan Y
22 days ago

I got into an argument once with a “true car guy” because he stated the V12 in the McLaren F1 was a Benz engine and not a BMW engine.

Parsko
Parsko
22 days ago

He knew who you were and was trolling you. ONLY excuse.

Black Peter
Black Peter
22 days ago
Reply to  Parsko

That’s what I was thinking too..
“Ha I told him BMW owns Ford and he didn’t even blink.. What a maroon!”

Parsko
Parsko
22 days ago
Reply to  Black Peter

It’s how these guys get their rocks off with customers, I bet. Most customers don’t know shit. And, I bet Jason missed the fun bait, and could have probably had fun with the dude playin along further.

Kevin B
Kevin B
22 days ago

If you looked under the hood of a Seventies-era Ford, you would have seen Saginaw power steering and a Frigidaire A/C compressor with a GM sticker on it. Would anyone assume then, that GM owned Ford?

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
22 days ago
Reply to  Kevin B

Yes – that mechanic, but you (and he) have it backwards. BMW owns Ford, and Ford owns GM, therefore BMW owns GM. QED. This explains a lot of things.

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
22 days ago

I’ll tell a story when you shouldn’t correct someone. I’m on a discord and there is an older gentleman who had some health issues recently, he was spouting off some facts that were not true about Pontiac Fieros. Because I respect him and I know he had gone through some stuff recently let him keep going, there was no harm in it.

Last edited 22 days ago by Scott Ross
J Money
J Money
22 days ago

I owned a 2014 Chevy SS and that car confused car dealers regularly. When I bought it, I was trading another RWD vehicle and in pushing me to accept their trade offer, clueless sales guy said “Man, that thing is RWD, you want to make this trade, we’re getting into winter.” When I pointed out that the SS sedan was also RWD, he said “Nah, I don’t think so, man.” Okay, dude.

When I traded that car (I know, I know), the salesman wrote “2014 Chevrolet Impala SS” on the yellow key tag thing as I was handing over the keys…. in that case, I just let it go. Not my problem that you — a literal Chevy dealer — doesn’t know what kind of car I am giving you.

ES
ES
22 days ago

it was a test Man. if you corrected him, the alignment was only 1.5x, but you didn’t, so double-time labor for you.

Vee
Vee
23 days ago

I’ve met many a car guy who proudly spout off that their cars are American made and waltz right into the xenophobia or xenoexclusive spiel. Especially guys who drive glamour trucks.

There is always a tug of war between the need I feel in correcting misinformation along with the shitbag feeling I get when I tell them that, while that new shiny Buick Enclave was assembled in Lansing Michigan, their engines are made in Canada, their transmissions are made in Mexico, the electronics are from Hungary and Thailand, and it was all designed by a German subsidiary under the the direction of a Swedish guy for the Chinese market.

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
23 days ago

Sorta like getting your hair cut and the barber makes a comment you take umbrage to, WAIT until AFTER the haircut is done before taking an opposing view. Same with the mechanic, wait until the car is aligned or you may have to call your new ride Mr. Crabs.

Ron888
Ron888
23 days ago

This kind of thing makes me doubt the mechanics as well! Imagine a mechanic who could make a $500 car worth less

Piston Slap Yo Mama
Piston Slap Yo Mama
23 days ago

My neighbor’s a chemical engineer which made me give him more credit for acumen than deserved. He had a nice 7th gen manual Civic Si with a dead engine; I could never get a clear story from him about what happened, I do know it was taken away on a flatbed to never return. He said he tried to push start it, but when he explained how I nearly choked on my coffee. His procedure:

1. Wife pushes car while he’s seated within
2. Upon gaining some slight momentum with car in neutral he then …
3. Turns the key.

And that’s it. No popping the clutch in gear, just a twist of the key and a tired wife. I didn’t have the heart to explain to a guy with an engineering degree how far off the mark he was on this. I’m a Gen-X from a broke single mom household who’s owned many old Triumph and VW beaters that I learned to park on hills thanks to flaky charging systems and he’s an affluent young Millenial who has only ever known the sweet embrace of a new Civic Si … so I let it slide.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

So he thought simply turning the key while the car was rolling in neutral would get it to start?

That is not how one wakes up engine hamsters sleeping on the job!

Ron888
Ron888
23 days ago

I’m deeply impressed with this level of ineptitude.It makes me feel better about some of my mistakes

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
22 days ago

he’s an affluent young Millenial

I’m not surprised he had no idea how to push start a car. I am surprised he didn’t just look it up when the first attempt failed.

chemical engineer

Oh. ChemE’s are weird. Even other engineers think they’re nerds. Most of them are phenomenally smart in their areas of specialty, but very much the absent-minded professors otherwise.

LTDScott
LTDScott
22 days ago

I mean… nicely informing him of the error of his ways could potentially save him from a headache in the future.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
23 days ago

I might’ve replied, “Good thing my minivan is neither Ford nor BMW. Now, how long will the alignment take?”

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

That Pinto needs a dentist!

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
23 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

And a trunk floor that isn’t also the gas tank.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

If I had to choose between that smile and maybe blowing up I’ll take the braces.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
23 days ago

On the otherwise stellar The Americans, there was one episode where I wanted to shout a correction at the TV. Phillip was lusting after a decadent Z-28, and he spouted some kind of automotive word salad to his son that made absolutely no sense. It was just so jarring to hear in such a meticulously crafted show.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago
Reply to  Flyingstitch

I chalked it up to a ratty communist upbringing poking through his iron curtain.

ES
ES
22 days ago
Reply to  Flyingstitch

it’s fun though, when the writers or directors obviously heard feedback and corrected things going forward.
In the first season of a otherwise enjoyable show a few years ago, main characters entered pastures or paddocks in two episodes without securing the gates behind themselves and went from likable to punchable in my eyes. In the last couple seasons there have been multiple instances of characters being yelled at, or otherwise causing trouble, for not closing barn doors or pasture gates.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

My Mazda 5 shares its control arm link with various BMWs.

Amazon.com: Detroit Axle – 2 Front Sway Bars for Mazda 3 5 BMW 740i 740iL 750i 750iL Stabilizer Sway Bar End Links Replacement : Automotive

Ford and Mazda were in a partnership at the time so maybe he was thinking it was a three way?

LTDScott
LTDScott
22 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

They didn’t share control arm links, they are just similar enough in specifications that an aftermarket manufacturer decided to consolidate cataloging.

I am a Product Manager for a major aftermarket shock absorber manufacturer and am also responsible for vehicle cataloging and can tell you this is exactly how we ended up cataloging front shocks for a Chevy truck which are also rear shocks on a Dodge.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
22 days ago
Reply to  LTDScott

That could be.

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
23 days ago

Well, Ford did sell diesel Rangers with BMW engines back in the 80s. So he’s not 100% wrong?

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
23 days ago

It was the Lincolns that used the BMW diesels, the Rangers used a Mazda built diesel that was a licensed Perkins unit and a Mitsubishi diesel depending on when it was made.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
22 days ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

If ever there was a time that it was appropriate to correct someone, this was it.

LTDScott
LTDScott
22 days ago

You’re thinking of the Lincoln Mark VII which did indeed have a BMW diesel 6 as an option.

Wezel Boy
Wezel Boy
23 days ago

Some commenter was bagging on Torch over at The Drive and was promptly corrected by a number of people.

Clive Wilson
Clive Wilson
23 days ago

The other day I was chatting to an older chap about his rather cool little Abarth 595 and he told me that (a) it was built by Ferrari and (b) it’s a 150 mph car.

I smiled politely and we parted on good terms – he was probably just repeating stuff the salesperson had told him. But I was grinding my teeth behind the smile, just a little…

Piston Slap Yo Mama
Piston Slap Yo Mama
23 days ago
Reply to  Clive Wilson

Some Ferrari dealerships used them as loaners while the owners awaited completion of services. I’m fairly sure that didn’t make ’em Ferraris.

Earlier today I was on a long straight stretch of featureless Florida interstate and briefly contemplated finally seeing what my car’s actual top speed is. The barely audible voice in my head that tries to keep me outta jail reminded me of my absolute loathing of cops.

We may never know what my Abarth’s limits are.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
23 days ago

Very seldom do I correct people about, well almost anything. It just isn’t worth the time. Besides, frequently I question my own knowledge.

Better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and leave no doubt.

Tim Cougar
Tim Cougar
23 days ago

Thankfully, IMCDb is a community where automotive pedantry is the expected.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
23 days ago

Depends on the wrongnestest of the thing and the context.

Slightly wrong on the internet and I’m off, sorry. “EVs only have one moving part and are fewer complex than ICE cars.” In real life it needs to be life threatening for me to correct a stranger, because I’m English and rightly too ashamed to act like I know better after all the awful things we’ve done.

Unless.

Do you say “RPMs”? You know that it’s already plural, right? The R is for Revolutions.

Also don’t talk about fuel consumption in terms of miles per tank or, and this one makes me want to kill, miles between filling up. You measured half the data, then guessed at the other half. I’d respect you more if you measured both units vaguely, at least you wouldn’t pretend it was useful.

TDI_FTW
TDI_FTW
23 days ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

well, miles between filling up is what most people care most about in EVs it seems.

AlterId
AlterId
22 days ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Do you say “RPMs”? You know that it’s already plural, right? The R is for Revolutions.

You are technically correct – the best kind of correct – but leaving the final “s” off buries the plural, so to speak. You could say or write “RsPM”, but what’s that mean? Rupees per minute, which I guess would be a measure of the rate at which the East India Company looted what was the world’s largest economy at the time in the years before the British Raj stepped in to sop up what was left? (Just tying it to your comment – no need to take on any more post-colonial guilt than you came here with.) Think of “revolution per minute” as the singular for which “RPMs” is the plural and it makes more sense.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
22 days ago
Reply to  AlterId

Technically correct is the only kind of correct.

I’ve only ever heard “RPMs” from Americans. So it might be one of those cultural differences we just have to accept, like spelling color the short way and paying for medical care.

James Carson
James Carson
23 days ago

Electronic anything that is clearly electric makes me want to say something… but I keep it to myself until the feeling passes. Don’t get me started on computer/internet/networking stuff. I’m too old and may overheat a valve.

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