Wired's "How To" Mag is Trying to Kill You

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
wireds how to mag is trying to kill you

Wired magazine has mailed its real world subs a “Wired How To” mini-magazine. Within its pages, they’ll discover a section entitled “Get 50 mpg in a Buick.” To achieve this remarkable gas-miserly feat, the mag recommends that hyper-mileage seeking missiles (that’s you) turn the key off when you’re coasting. There’s no warning that turning the key off will lock the steering and kill the power brakes. Admittedly, the eds suggest you “turn the key back a notch so the engine shuts down.” But I’m sure some naif will either accidentally or purposely turn the key all the way off. And even if they do it correctly, they’ll still lose power steering, which can come as a shock to a 100-pound woman (naif waif?). Wired also advises motorists looking for mythical mileage to “inch up behind an 18-wheeler and kill the engine as you enter its slipstream. You’re drafting now, getting pulled along by the truck’s gas instead of your own.” Yes, they admit it’s “dangerous.” Especially when the truck driver gets pissed and taps his brakes. And as your own binders have lost power assist with the engine off, that could be something of a problem. So, anyway, how do you change your own oil?

In the section on DIY oil changes, Wired advises the ignorami to hand-tighten the replacement oil filter “because if you strip the threads it’ll cost a mint in repairs.” The reason you don’t wrench-tighten a filter is not because you’ll strip the threads–you’d have to use truly brutal pressure and a breaker-bar type extension on the wrench to possibly do that–but because the rubber seal will quickly swell and create the necessary extra pressure. I could go on–like their claim that you should be able to remove the old filter by mere hand pressure “unless you’re a wuss,” which reveals that theyt’ve never actually done it, but why bother. I wouldn’t let a sharetree mechanic reprogram my hard drive and I wouldn’t let a computer geek tell me how to drive or change my oil. You know; in general.

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  • Stephan Wilkinson Stephan Wilkinson on Oct 31, 2008

    "Not a lot of dead-tree mags have made the transition well, and many that have tried to have an on-line presence have suffered for it (the car mags, for example, have a uniformly sucktastic web presence). Most magazines make the mistake of trying to use the web as a source of revenue and/or a push for dead-tree subscriptions." You're absolutely right. I used to write steadily for Conde Nast Traveler's site, since I'm a CNT contributing editor, but I have completely stopped posting, it's so bad. All they want to do is sell subscriptions. One dead giveaway is that virtually none of the posts are interesting enough to get a single comment. "Comments: 0." I should think they'd be embarrassed. My daughter Brook contributes to it, but only because she's paid to, required to by her contract with the magazine.

  • TomAnderson TomAnderson on Oct 31, 2008

    John B: Ah yes, the old "hyper-chlorinating the gene pool" trick...

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