Gonzo's Toolbox: Sometimes You Get More Than What You Pay For ... But That's Not Always A Plus

Gonzo’s Toolbox: Sometimes You Get More Than What You Pay For … But That’s Not Always A Plus

One day, one of my customers called and said he just purchased a car from the police auction, but it had some sort of strange noise coming from the driver's-side electric seat. It seems that every time he moved it, there was a strange electrical sound. He thought there was something wrong with the seat motor. He asked me, an auto electric technician, if I would take a look at it.

One day, one of my customers called and said he just purchased a car from the ­police auction, but it had some sort of strange noise coming from the driver’s-side electric seat. It seems that every time he moved it, there was a strange electrical sound. He thought there was something wrong with the seat motor.

He asked me, an auto electric technician, if I would take a look at it.

“Sure,” I said. “What kind of car is it?”

“It’s a Peugeot,” he answered.

I’m not into Peugeots, but I told him I could take a quick look to see if I could help diagnose the problem.

Within a few days, the car arrived at the shop, and after pulling it into a bay I tried the driver’s seat. Sure enough, as you moved the seat forward an inch or two, a horrible, loud buzzing sound emanated from under the seat. Rolling the seat backward would stop the noise. In disbelief, I rolled the seat forward to the spot that made the noise, but it seemed to be pretty consistent — same place, same noise.

The second time I moved the seat to the spot that made the noise, I got out of the car and looked underneath. The noise immediately stopped … there was nothing, not a whisper of any strange noise or buzzing.

The car had an all-black interior — black seats, black carpet and even the seat rails and brackets were solid black. It looked fine to me, but since I’m not accustomed to poking my head under Peugeot seats every day, I thought to myself that I must have been missing something.

I rolled the seat forward and backward several times to produce the noise, but to no avail. What in the world was going on?

I called over my helper and asked him, “Listen to this and see what you think.” The noise was gone. I explained to my assistant what had happened and he was also at a loss. I climbed back in the car and, sure enough, as long as I was sitting in the seat, it would make the noise. But, when I got back out of the car and tried it again, there was nothing. This is ridiculous. I heard the sound myself but thought, “I’m not going crazy, am I?”

I got out again, and this time I had my helper get in the car and move the seat. He moved the seat forward and, within a few inches, it starting making the noise. I told him to lift his butt out of the seat … and the noise stopped immediately. He tried several times, and then I tried a couple of times.

Actually, we were having fun with it. One of us would sit in the seat and make a fake pistol with our fingers as if we were shooting each other. We would raise and lower our butts in and out of the seat and pretend we were Buck Rogers.

“OK, enough fun, sit back down,” I said, “I’ll look underneath this time.” I got down to where I could look under the seat, and at about the same time he was putting his weight back into the cushion, I spotted the problem. Oh my! I had to look again and again just to confirm what I was seeing.

My helper asked: “What is it?” with great ­surprise and anticipation. As I looked underneath the seat, I could see a perfect bluish-white lightning bolt glow about an inch or so long. It was pointed right at the bottom of the cushion, but only a fraction of an inch from the seat’s metal bracing.

In a very calm voice I told him, “Now listen carefully, I want you to raise your butt out of the seat, and I’ll move the seat toward the rear. There is a police Taser pointing at your keister right now. Move very carefully, and I don’t think you’ll get shocked.”

I think it shook him up a bit. But he carefully lifted his weight out of the seat. The Taser was the exact same color as the carpet and ­underside of the seat. It was so well camouflaged that it ­appeared to be a part of the seat mechanism. If it weren’t for the lightning bolt, I don’t think anyone could have spotted it. It really looked like a part of the seat brackets. After moving the seat backward, the Taser eased off of the button and came back to rest with the business end pointing harmlessly away from his “derriere.”

I then reached under the seat and carefully pulled the Taser out. I called the customer and told him what I found, and, to say the least, he was shocked.

So were we for that matter … well, almost. 

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