Monthly Archives: December 2010

How to Speak Mechanic

Have you ever experienced a moment like this with your Mechanic?

Car trouble symptoms can indicate minor or major problems with your vehicle. This glossary of terms should help you identify what’s going wrong with your vehicle and assist you in letting your GM Certified Technician know exactly what’s been happening as well as helping you understand your mechanic in return. At the Perry Auto Group, we’d like to clear up a few questions:

Brakes Description
Brake fade Stopping distance seems to increase, causing longer braking distance, similar to braking at high speeds
Low brake pedal Brake pedal must be pushed unusually far to engage brakes
Brake pedal pulsation Brake pedal fluctuates while brakes are applied
Grabs Vehicle has a tendency to move right or left when brakes are applied; brakes engage suddenly when applying steady pressure to brake pedal
Engine Description
Cuts out Temporary complete loss of power. Engine quits at irregular intervals. May occur repeatedly or intermittently, usually under heavy acceleration.
Detonation Mild to severe pings, usually worse under acceleration. Sounds like popcorn popping.
Dieseling Engine runs after ignition switch is turned off. Runs unevenly and may make knocking noises.
Hesitation Momentary lack of response as accelerator is pressed. Can occur at any speed. Usually most severe when starting from complete stop. May cause engine to stall.
Miss Pulsation or jerking that changes with engine speed. Exhaust has a steady spitting sound at idle or low speed. Not normally felt above 30 mph.
Rough idle Engine runs unevenly at idle. Car may also shake.
Sluggish Engine delivers limited power under load or at high speed. Won’t accelerate as fast as normal. Loses speed going up hills. Vehicle has less speed than normal.
Spongy Little or no increase in speed when accelerator is pushed down. Continuing to push pedal down will eventually give an increase in speed.
Stall Engine stops running or dies out. May occur at idle or while driving.
Surge Vehicle speeds up and slows down with no change on accelerator pedal. Can occur at any speed.
Steering & Handling Description
Bottoming Suspension moves to extreme end of travel and hits compression bumpers. Feels like a heavy thud.
Excessive play Steering wheel must be turned unusually far before vehicle responds.
Hard steering Vehicle difficult to steer, especially during parking situations or when first started.
Pulls Vehicle moves to one side when steering wheel is released.
Shimmy Rapid side-to-side motion of both front wheels felt in steering wheel.
Sway/pitching Mushy or spongy ride; vehicle takes a long time to recover from bumps in the road.
Vibration Vehicle shakes.
Wanders Vehicle meanders, requiring frequent steering adjustments to maintain direction.
Odors & Stains Description
Antifreeze or coolant leak Sweet odor, usually accompanied by steam from under the hood.
Axle leaks Black stains with heavy, thick consistency.
Burning oil Thick, heavy odor, sometimes accompanied by smoke from under the hood or from the exhaust
Coolant streaks Yellow, green, pink, or orange stains that are lighter and thinner than oil.
Crankcase, oil, power-steering fluid leaks Brownish stains
Electrical short Acrid odor, like burned toast
Emission Contigious, heavy sulfur odor like rotten eggs
Overheated brakes or clutch Burning rubber odor
Overheating Hot, metallic odor usually accompanied by antifreeze/coolant odor.
Transmission oil leaks Reddish stains
For answers to all your service related questions feel free to contact us at Performance Chevrolet Service Department.

“I’ve always wanted to drive a Corvette”

“I am 75 years old.  I have always wanted to drive a Corvette.  My wife thinks I’m nuts, but I’m here to drive a Corvette…big motor, stick shift, and all.  If I like it…I’ll buy it.”

I stood there staring at this guy, trying hard not to telegraph my misgivings about taking him for a test drive in a new Corvette.  The truth is, he looked more like 95, but still had that sparkle in his eye, reminding me that some things about our 20s we never leave behind.

Nevertheless, I knew if we wrecked that 430-horsepower car, the deductible would come out of my pay.  If he punched the pedal and popped the clutch we would burn through the rear tires faster than I could even open my pay envelope (which…again…would be empty after paying for new tires).

I tried to bolster my confidence by reminding myself that over the years I had taught a lot of pilots to fly jets, and could surely stay ahead of the situation in a ground vehicle with a guy who now looked more like he was 125 years old (every professional pilot should begin his career as a flight instructor because that’s where you learn how to keep people from killing you!).   I said, “Great!  Let’s go put some pavement in the rearview mirror!”  We talked about the car for a few minutes, did a walk-around, located and explained the function of critical systems and operating procedures, and strapped in.

He was a surprisingly fit fellow, and had no difficulty with the degree of yoga one must master to get in and out of the Corvette with the ease of a NASCAR driver.  If you have ever sat in a Corvette you know that it fits like a glove once the seat is adjusted and the mirrors properly angled.  But it sits low and has a drag-reduction profile that allows the car to slice through the air like an eagle.

It was amusing to watch his face as he gently pressed and released the start button.  The car automatically brought itself to life, and the 6.2 Liter motor growled like the king of beasts.  At first, he was a little afraid of the clutch, because he did not want to make everyone standing around think he was a novice to muscle cars.  He slowly (and I mean S-L-O-W-L-Y) let out the clutch and the car crept ahead.

It was instant gratification; suddenly, he morphed into a pro.  Clutching and shifting from first to second was as smooth and well-timed as if an Earnhardt were at the controls.  If fact, I began to think he had been fooling me into thinking he had never driven a Corvette.  We only got to fourth gear when we came to the first traffic light, and then he got a little confused about how to get back to first gear, so I knew that he really was still on the front side of the learning curve.  Actually, in his defense, the shifter IS pretty short-throw.  He was trying to move it a little too far to find the gears.

Once we got out on open highway, he relaxed and asked how I thought he was doing.  “Fine,” I said.  “You drive this machine like you’ve driven it all your life.”  He began looking around the cockpit and figuring out various amenities.  He commented over and over on how well the Corvette handled and how quiet it was.  Every now and then he would stab the accelerator and his head would smack the headrest.  He grabbed and regrabbed the steering wheel like someone who’s thinking, “I can’t believe I’m actually in command of this baby.”

Most folks have no idea that the Corvette spawned many great systems and design concepts used on many other cars to this day…even foreign cars (or as they say down South here…” ’em FURN cars”).  For instance, the split-cockpit design of the new Chevrolet Cruze first appeared in the 1963 split-window coupe Corvette.

Here’s another one.  I get tickled when I see the TV commercial of one of “ ’em furn car” makers whose name they try to tell us is synonymous with “runs forever” where they show a magnet holding black fluid off the floor.  When they release the magnetization the fluid falls to the floor, and the narrator tells us that this innovative idea is the principle behind real-time shock damping…as though THEY had invented the concept.  Nope.  WRONG!  Fakers!  FURN FIBBERS!  That system first came out in the early ‘90s on…you guessed it…the CORVETTE!!!

Ever stand and look at a 1953 Chevrolet sedan?  If you’re not sure what one looks like, google it and study the design for a moment.  Beautiful isn’t it?  Two years later, the ’55 hit the market with a bold new aerodynamic design.  And then came the beloved ’57, where momma learned to bake apple pie at the levy.

It is amazing how the design changed from ’53 to ’57.  But wait, go back to ’53, but this time google “CORVETTE”.  Yep, the Corvette first came out in 1953!  Chevrolet was that far ahead of the game, Corvette was leading the way, and an American legend was born.  In fact, a whole string of legends was born at Chevrolet.  Stick THAT in yer furn pipe and smoke it.

As a kid in the early ‘60s, I tried never to miss an episode of “Route 66” with Martin Milner and George Maharis.  Da-dadaya-da-da…Da-dadaya-da-da…Da-dadaya-da-da”:  The Nelson Riddle theme song still runs through my mind every time I see a Vette (the TV producers asked Riddle to write the memorable TV theme because they didn’t want to pay royalties for the 1946 Bobby Troupe composition “Get Your Kicks On Route 66” made famous by Nat King Cole and others).  That TV show permanently imbedded both the highway and the car…both Route 66 and the Corvette…in American national consciousness.

Now I know I talk a lot about aviation and flying and jets.  And I realize many people have never even been on an airplane, let alone take the controls.  If you are among those who always wanted to fly a jet…GO DRIVE A VETTE!  The only thing you’ll be missing is altitude.  No body scanners, no TSA security pat-downs, no over-bookings.  YOU are calling the shots, and you will feel like you are at the controls of the greatest fighter of them all.  You’ll feel like the sky’s the limit, and the stars are in reach, and there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Make sure the mirror is adjusted so that you can watch your face regain its younger years as you drive this “fountain of youth.”  I guarantee you will see the wrinkles roll off your brow and the bags disappear from under your eyes.  Don’t waste your money on a face lift; put your money down on a new Corvette instead.  Invest in Chevrolet’s fountain of youth, and you will once again look like a 20-year-old with no need to have the corners of your mouth surgically stretched behind your neck so far that you can’t keep the soup in your mouth.   Although, when you push the start button on that big motor…that dumb grin is gonna let the soup run everywhere anyway.  Oh yeah…by the way, that big motor?…26+ miles-to-the-gallon baby!  Da-dadaya-da-da…Da-dadaya-da-da…Da-dadaya-da-da…

Uncle Ben


Performance Chevrolet is proud to serve the auto dealership needs of cities such as Elizabeth City, Edenton, Hertford, Currituck, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Moyock, South Mills, Camden, Williamston, Ahoskie, Chesapeake, Columbia, Shiloh, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and counties that include Dare, Chowan, Perquimans and Pasquotank in North Carolina and Virginia. We provide exceptional customer service, a warm and friendly environment, auto financing options to fit your budget, and an inventory of great new and used cars, trucks, SUV’s and crossovers. Our ASE Certified Service Technicians at the Performance Chevrolet Service Center service and repair all makes and models both foreign and domestic. Call us at (252) 338-9100 or stop in at 1005 W. Ehringhaus St, Elizabeth City, NC, 27909 and check out our great GM inventory.

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How to Change a Flat Tire

Knowing how to change and repair it can mean the difference between making your appointment and running hours late.

For all your vehicle service needs visit the Performance Chevrolet Service Department, located at: 1005 W Ehringhaus St., Elizabeth City, NC 27909
(252) 338-9100

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A Chevy Time Machine

I am sitting here staring out the window at a white Chevrolet Impala.  Staring, because it is much more than a car to me.  It is a time machine that takes me back to my childhood; back to days when a car said as much about a family as did the house they lived in.

My dad was pretty much a Buick man all his life.  My wife’s dad was a die-hard Ford man.  But my mom’s brother, Jarrel (like”barrel”, but with a J…another one of those names a Kentucky momma comes up with), was a Chevy man.  By the way, GM tells us that we’re not supposed to refer to a Chevrolet as a Chevy anymore, but I haven’t heard the final word on that from all the Chevy owners I know.  I’ll get back to you when I do.

I could take this opportunity to relay to you a bunch of impressive technical data on the Chevrolet Impala…like the two V6 options, or the voluminous trunk and passenger compartment, or the safety features and superb riding and handling characteristics, all of which you know from the Impala’s illustrious history and legendary reputation. Instead, I will take you back to the days when I was a kid in the ‘50s and ‘60s…and to my Uncle Jarrel’s Chevy Impalas.  There were lots of Impalas roaming the streets of America in my day…’55s, ‘57s, ‘64s…but there was only ONE Uncle Jarrel.

My dad was born in Coshocton, Ohio, to a coalminer family.  He looked enough like Harry Morgan (Col. Potter on the TV show MASH) to be his twin brother.  Mom was born into a farm family in Flemingsburg, KY.  Fortunately, she looked nothing like Harry Morgan.  Both families were very close, and so was our family when I was growing up.  To this day my 3-year younger brother and 8-year younger sister and I are as close as we were back home in Indiana.

Uncle Jarrel was one of my heroes.  He looked a lot like Porter Wagoner, the Grand Ole Opry host.  He was in the carpet, drapery, and furniture business.  He and was like my dad in that they had both been in the Army in WWII, and everything they owned had to be in good running order, neat, clean, military-square, and tip-top shape at all times.  Whether it was his car or his closet, a thing was either right or it was not.  If it was not right, it was straightened up, fixed, or replaced.  And, like Dad, he was an insufferable jokester.  Mom’s side of the family and Dad’s both laughed all the time.  If there was nothing to laugh about, they would create something.

The only time Uncle Jarrel drove anything other than an Impala was when he bought a brand new 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad stationwagon.  He drove it out to our place so Dad and Mom and us kids could gawk at it.  “Plaza Carpet, Drapes and Furniture” was fancy-painted on the sides.  All of us ran our hands over the car like it was a fine horse.  Our family could not afford such a fine steed, but we were all happy for Uncle Jarrel and Aunt Barbara and their kids.  We all worked hard for our money, and they had hit a long ball.  We spent a couple of hours talking about the new car.

What happened next was a source of belly laughs for the rest of their lives.  When Uncle Jarrel got ready to leave, Dad snuck up behind the stationwagon and held on to the rear hatch handle with one hand, put both feet up on the rear bumper, held the other hand up in the air, and struck a pose like a rodeo bronc rider.  Uncle Jarrel saw this in the rearview mirror and thought Dad was merely standing on the ground leaning behind the car.

He started the engine and floored the pedal, expecting to see Dad let go and fade away in the mirror coughing up the dust of our gravel driveway.  To our horror Dad came off the bumper as the hatch handle was jerked out of his hand and the car vaulted from under his feet.  He turned a complete somersault in the air and landed on his fanny in the gravel, scooting about 15 feet.  His landing looked nothing like the pictures I had seen in his 82nd Airborne scrapbook from WWII.

Uncle Jarrel jammed on the brakes and jumped out expecting to see Dad on his back, dead.  Instead, Dad just sat there, waiting for his brain to get a grip on what the heck had just happened.  Finally, Dad looked at Uncle Jarrel with a whipped hound dog expression, and said in a high-pitched, squeaky voice that told all of us where the real damage had been done, “Wha’dja do THAT for?!”  Uncle Jarrel started laughing like a hyena so loud that the next door neighbors came running over to see what all the fun was about.  Dad just sat there staring at 8-year-old ME as if to say, “Well, son, I guess YOU are gonna have to be the man of the house now.”

Uncle Jarrel kept that stationwagon for seven years, and then bought another Impala..a brand new 1965.  I was almost old enough for a beginner’s permit, and was struck by the look and feel of that Impala in a way I had never been struck before.  For a teenager on the threshold of the freedom that only driving a car can give, that Impala kicked my imagination in high gear.  What was it going to be like driving around town, winkin’ at the girls, pulling into the drive-in and ordering a malted shake (it never occurred to me that the girls would never wink back or that we wouldn’t have money for gas)?

Like all Uncle Jarrel’s cars, this one was stark white, squeaky clean, and rode like a cloud.  That Impala was so quiet you couldn’t even hear a semi as it passed.  And when he pulled out to pass another car, well, clocks and watches actually ran backwards.  I think riding in that Impala was the closest Dad ever came to hopping over the fence from Buickland to Chevyland.  If DAD was impressed with a car, trust me, that pretty much settled the issue for ME, ‘cause I gaged my own opinions by my Dad’s.  That ’65 Chevy Impala was one fine car.  Probably the best car Uncle Jarrel ever owned.

You’ve all experienced the eerie feeling of going back to your old grade school, especially if no one is there when you walk the halls.  It’s almost as if you can hear the voices and laughter of childhood friends and teachers, and even see their faces looking at you just as they did way back then.  Mom, Dad, Uncle Jarrel, and many others are gone now.  And because we were all so close and spent so much time together, us kids have a mountain of memories to climb and look back from.  But thank the Lord the Chevy Impala is more than just a memory, it is still in production.  And everytime I see a white one, I can see Uncle Jarrel…and all the watches and clocks start to go backwards, and suddenly I’m cruisin’ around town, winkin’ at the girls, looking for a drive-in and a malted shake.

Chevrolet…Chevy…you guys in Detroit call yourselves whatever you want.  All I can say is, “Thanks for the Impala!”

Performance Chevrolet has a wide selection of new and used inventory to meet any budget.

Uncle Ben

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