Social Distancing For DTCs

Dec. 15, 2020

We’re all familiar with the “new normal” of social distancing to prevent the spread of a virus. While this concept applies to people, I wondered if we could equate this to vehicles. Yes, my mind does work in strange ways at times, and this is a prime example. 

What if a 2006 Ford diesel truck was spewing a tad too rich of a mixture, and the airborne particles emitted from the exhaust tip entered the engine bay of a diesel-powered Ford that was sitting two feet behind at a traffic stop? Maybe the affliction would transfer to the following truck. 

Let’s say the 2006 truck also had a slight miss and a bog on acceleration. Would the following truck breathe in the exhaust and start to cough and hesitate? 

If a 2009 Audi had a DTC for EVAP, while stopped in a fast food take-out line, would the same DTC infect the following car if it was a German marque that was stopped too close to the Audi? 

While I’m thinking along these lines, maybe other brands are also likely candidates for carrying a DTC virus. Hmm. This is a good example of why people need to stop tailgating and maintain at least six feet between vehicles when stopped. 

Consider this scenario: You just picked up a brand-spanking-new Chevy Colorado, outfitted with all of the bells and whistles that GM offers. At some point, you’re stopped behind a 2006 Ford truck that is plagued with rust and rot at the rockers and fender lips. If you’re within six feet of this rust bucket, you become concerned that the condemned sheet metal ahead of you will somehow share its affliction with your new baby. 

This concept could also give birth to a new product segment to prevent the spread of dreaded airborne DTCs -- masks for cars and trucks. Granted this would require a sizable piece of filtering cloth to cover the grille, but installation would be fairly easy, as long elastic straps could wrap over the front door rearview mirrors.  

This opens up a new custom market as well, with logos imprinted on the grille masks (or graphics that depict shark jaws, alien heads, puppy faces, etc.). You can only imagine the plethora of creative choices on display at a SEMA/AAPEX show.  Just imagine the rules we’d have to follow. I can picture signs posted at toll gates, drive-through restaurant lanes, service shops, etc., warning  “Vehicle masks required for service.” 

After all, if we need to prevent people from being infected, don’t our vehicles deserve the same precautions?  My truck began coughing yesterday and the engine’s showing signs of a fever, as the temp gauge crept up a bit from normal. I might be over-reacting, but I now park it at least six feet away from my other vehicles. After all, you just can’t be too careful. 

Vehicle distancing… the new normal?


Regarding my editorial in a recent issue, a reader responded with his take on the subject, one with which I completely agree. 

“When I read ‘Where’s my 10 mm,’ I cringe at the thought of lost tools. What if it’s under the hood of your customer’s vehicle? A 10 mm could be sitting on top of the battery. Recommending a solution that we just buy more tools doesn’t make sense to me. I cut my teeth in the Navy as an aviation electronics and flight technician. Tool control was very imperative. We grounded every single aircraft until a missing tool was found. I know that cars don’t fall out of the sky. But that same level of trust should be instilled in an automotive service technician. I completed a degree in automotive service technology and completed a co-op at a local dealership. I was shocked at the lack of organization and discipline. And that was one of the premier garages in the area. Maybe we should control our tools better, instead of just buying more?”

Kevin Christie

Memphis, Tenn.

About the Author

Mike Mavrigian | Editor

Mike received a BA degree from Youngstown State University in English Literature with a minor in Journalism in 1975.