Your eyes glaze over. Your hands get clammy. You shift your weight uncomfortably. Yes, someone is explaining how their car works and you have no idea what they're talking about.

I am often in the position where someone is talking about a part of a car that I don't understand for two reasons.

1) Friends refer to me as a "car guy," causing people to decide that they should tell me about how they got their 1978 Toyota Celica to pass CA smog testing.

2) I know absolutely nothing about how cars work.

Right now you're probably saying to yourself, "Raphael - you write for Jalopnik, surely you know how cars work!" Well, not really, which is why I get antsy when people point at some totally-normal looking tube in an engine bay and say something like,

Ha! The idiot who built this never properly flanged the inlet casing! Rookie mistake!


That's why I felt JinDenver's pain when reading a collection of tuning fails.

I love cars. But I don't know enough about the mechanical aspects for this article to mean anything to me :-(

::returns man-card::

Xenocyclus offered helpful advice.

Do what I do: nod, look pissed, and grunt.

Muttering under your breath about shoddy craftsmanship and how you don't understand how someone would do this certainly helps. Gesticulating with a cigarette or a half-drank can of Pabst adds credibility.


Of course, dozens of other readers chimed in to give wonderful, truly excellent explanations of what exactly was wrong with these poorly-tuned cars. But that's Jalopnik, and all you readers are good people who help make a great commenting community.

What do you do when you're at a friend's shop and people start discussing variable cam profiles? What's the best way to maintain your friendships in these situations? I sure could use the advice.

Photo Credit: Honda via Velarossa22