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The SLB "Stupid Little Book" - a defense for Dad, maybe a heads-up for us

A great show as always today, gotta hand it to Tom and Ray. Keeping tabs on our cars and maintenance is good, some folks need a mileage log for business reasons, but the the “SLB” seems like it’s over the top. I sympathize with the caller, what a lot of work for the “purse strings” help from Dad.
But here’s a reason to justify keeping a mileage log with some precision and location of gas purchases - but to make sense it really ought to be explained, else suffer endless snorts and jokes.

Here’s what I found in my car, a somewhat temperamental Italian sports car that would not idle properly, continuous coughing, stumbling, and stalling on a fresh full tank of gas. I separated out over a gallon of water from the fuel (long story how), and then it ran just fine. Turns out it was from a convenient “discount” gas station on the route home from work. I confirmed it by keeping a gas mileage log for several months and several re-fills from that one station - so it wasn’t just one "bad load of gas in their underground tank."

But here’s the catch - the new ethanol blended fuels will mix water into the fuel. A gas station can spike the ethanol blended fuel with water which at $4 profit per gallon of water might be tempting (or maybe just an innocent large water leak into the tank?) I saved the last container of separated gas/water, picture posted below.

The “Little Book” would catch the stations with bad gas, seems like a LOT of hassle though. With Ethanol blends mandated who knows what’s to come.

But come on, if that’s the reason ya gotta have pity on the family and explain…


About 10 years after my Dad died, I found a “stupid little book” where he wrote down some things like the license plate number of his children’s cars, etc. Holding his SLB in my hands and looking at his handwriting was a special blessing for me. I for one am thankful for his “stupid little book”.

I sold a 2004 Honda Accord for $16,000.00 this year 2011. I had records for: oil/filter, gas, tire rotation,w/blades,

you name it I had it. The Honda I now drive will have the records available for the next owner. Laugh if you want!

My wish for the daughter is she gets her act together soon. The love her Dad HAS for her is beyond measure

over what she will find in the real world. Appears to me a home, care, car ,insurance, education,spending money,

etc.etc. wasn't worth her time to open a little book (15 seconds /more or less). Any bets she regrets this now?

First, I thought the call was one of the most entertaining calls the guys every took. It brought back all kinds of memories of dealing with parents who are over-protective. It also reminded me to becareful how I deal with my own children!

On the one side, the caller is obviously ready to strike out on her own - and her father needs to give her space to do that.

On the other side, the caller didn't handle the situation very well - and I suspect she knew that. She should have waited untill she was truly independent before annoucing she had "made an adult decision". Those kinds of declarations never go over well!

I grew up with a dad who kept a mileage book. I often say that gas mileage was his religion. My fondest childhood memories were sitting in the car and my dad teaching me how to calculate mileage - no calculator allowed!

The only accurate way to check gas milage is putting in an identical amount of gas each fill. With these cheap fuel gauges how much is left in the tank before each fill?

after 30+ years of adult life, i “inherited” my dad’s little book, when he was put in a nursing home, and had the privilage of opening the glove-box on my 20+ year old station wagon, similar to the one whose demise almost killed us in 1970, and handing him the SAME OLD BOOK, when i took him out for his last ride to “see” the fall colors, on my parent’s 39th anniversary. with Macular Degeneration, he could barely see, but he held that book, and felt it, and knew my respect and love for him by its symbolism. he died the next month.

wow!!! did i get my numbers wrong!!! i was an adult for 20 years when my parents were married 49!!

My husband has been keeping a book like this for our cars for the last twenty five years, including the very first car we bought together a few months before we got married. And we have sold those cars with that dog-eared little book in the glove compartment, although I don’t know if the future owners have appreciated it. It’s like lots of irritating things people do–a sign of love, a practice of care and consistency in a world where those qualities are often wanting. And when my kids ask, “why are we doing this,” every time they’re commandeered to note the miles, gallons, etc., I say, “because it makes the universe seem like a more orderly place than it actually is.” Not to mention, if your miles per gallon start to fall off, you can see it right there in the book.

After years of enjoying your program, I take issue with your contention that keeping fuel purchase records like your caller’s Father, and I have for nearly 20 years with 3 cars, all of which reached more than 200,000 before I had to buy a different used vehicle (Chrysler New Yorker, Red Ford Convertible), and my current car a Honda Civic, that just turned 200,000 miles within the last month (of which I coincidentally photographed the 199991 to 200002 palindromes because I knew the odometer would never reach them again and there was only 11 miles between them). Being a single parent of 4 children with lots of things to do and lots of things to forget, these records helped me keep my tires properly inflated and oil changes scheduled, when my mileage started to diminish. These records helped me discover that paying a couple cents more per gallon for one brand of gas rather than buying a cheaper brand actually saved me money, because the additives in the more expensive product always provided me 5 to 7+ miles more per gallon. These records also helped me track my personal activity for use with my profession and I could get a good guess when my teenagers thought they were getting away with sneaking around in my automobile. However, one of my sons really threw me off one time when he began fueling the car to disguise his unauthorized use of my vehicle:-) So, there are good reasons to keep these records, but thank you for supporting the young lady in declaring her independence! and moving along to pay her own way!!! That is what our hard work is all about.

Plus, I remembered after reading one of the other comments, that I recently assisted in a local gas station being cited for manipulating their pumps by making it appear like they were charging less for their product than another station accross the street. This was a result of my obsessive record keeping habits.

Let me get this straight. The caller is 22 years old, graduated from college and has a job. However, she still thinks Dad should pay for her gasoline. I think anyone in this situation should be paying for their own gasoline. It is part of being an ADULT. I don't understand why Click and Clark are being sympathetic to her "plight".

I agree with others that the caller should be on her own in terms of paying for her car expenses. Her folks no doubt picked up her tuition & other college expenses. As an educated and employed adult, she should finally be off the parental dole. No sympathy from me.

My parents always kept a log where they recorded all maintenance, gas purchases with mileage, etc., for every car they owned. My dad was a machinist and sensed potential mechanical problems before they even happened. Our cars -- and everything else around the house -- always worked. The log provided what he needed to track gas mileage & repairs/maintenance, and was also a handy record of the many driving trips they took across the U.S.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

I enjoyed listening to the show, especially on this Memorial Day weekend, since my father died this past October. This topic provided yet one more happy memory of a wonderful man. Thanks.

I think some folks are missing some important details:

1) The 22 year old had JUST graduated and had not yet actually started her job.

2) It was her father who was insisting that the book be kept up to date.

3) Her response was that she didn't think she needed to do that.

4) HIS response was to mention who was paying the bills!

The impression I got was that this is a relationship in transition - from a father/daughter to adult/adult - and it had hit a bump in the road. I think she was on the right track, if a bit pre-matuire to start trying to change it!

I don't think she was expecting her father to pay the bills forever, but I do think her father was expecting her maintain the records forever - but then, we are only hearing one side of the story.

I haven’t heard this segment of the show. Perhaps dad is asking for too much detail. But, when I drove a company car, I had to keep records and receipts of everything pertaining to the car. If I didn’t, no company car and also no job - so like it or not, hassle or not, the records got kept. Since dad is providing the car, paying for the gas, maintenance, and repairs; then the driver either keeps the records that he requires or the driver gets a another car to drive.

Keeping the records is good training for her in the future. If she can’t handle a bit of paperwork to account for all the free driving she is getting in return then by all means she can buy a car of her own and do whatever she wishes with it.

I’m a 32-year-old female, and I too keep a little book, only mine is a little brown book. I’ve done this for about three years now, since the last time the gas prices spiked. I do it not because I’m OCD, but precisely the opposite–I’m quite ADHD.

I drive a little German car that has 256K+ miles on it. It drinks about a quart of oil every 1500 or so miles. I get roughly 300 miles on a tank of gas in my normal stop-and-start commute. In my book, every few lines says “CHECK OIL”. Then, every couple of pages (it’s a small book) it reminds me to get an oil change.

I’m pretty specific. I keep track of the date, where I got the gas, how much I put in, how much I spent, how many miles were on the tank (tracked with the trip odometer), how many miles are on the car, and what the average MPG was.

Whenever I do maintenance/repairs, the specifics of that also goes in the book.

I do this because I like to see what my gas mileage is over time, because I want to keep an eye on my car for anything that might signify a problem, but primarily to remind me when I need to do things like check my oil. I’ve tried just keeping a maintenance log, but since it’s so infrequent, I forget to fill it out. Since I do this on a more regular basis (I go through 2-3 tanks of gas/month on average) it’s easy to notice when something needs to be done.

I am bound and determined to get this car to at least 300K miles (and I only drive around 9K/year, so at this rate it may take a while, but I have time) and I’m hoping the book is the key to getting me there.

As a bonus, the cover and blank pages have doubled as a way to quickly scribble down the Puzzler when I’m stuck in traffic and want to come back to it at a later time, but I’m too ADHD to remember that I wanted to come back to it at a later time. The second picture I attached is a word Puzzler from a year or so ago, I think. :slight_smile:

I am 30 years old with no children. Though I am a Type-A personality, I have kept track of the mileage and gas costs for my two cars (Ford Focus and Mazda 3). It is interesting to watch how the price of gas changes, and how my gas mileage is doing. I see nothing wrong with this!

Dear Click & Clack:

I am really really worried after listening
to your conversation with Rebecca, broadcast

My dad always keeps a book in each car he
owns logging mileage, oil changes, tire
rotations, new filters,repairs, etc. He’s
78 and still does this, even when he’s
driving his restored '57 TBird in a local

When my parents provided me with a car
during high school and college, I also
maintained the log. So did all 3 of my
sisters, with their respective vehicles. (It
takes like 3 seconds for each entry so I
don’t know why anyone would be
inconvenienced by it…)

My sisters and I all graduated from college
more than 20 years ago and we have all
adopted this practice for our own vehicles
over the years. With some convincing, now
even our husbands and our driving-aged kids
keep track.

While some passengers have raised their
eyebrows as we updated our little books, the
books have actually been tremendously
valuable to us over the years. Examples: (1)
purchase/warranty dates when repair
paperwork was lost (2) tracking mileage for
work and charity trips: the IRS auditor was
super impressed!!! and (3) having an amazing
record of the vehicle history to show when
selling or trading in the vehicles.

Not to mention settling family arguments
like do you really get better mileage using
higher octane fuel or over inflating your

Granted, we may be a little OCD, but I’ve
never considered us WACKO. Until listening
to the show today…

Could you perhaps take an survey of
listeners and let us know what percentage
also keep such a little book? Depending on
the results, we may seek professional help.
Or at least start logging in secret.

We’re all looking forward to hearing your

Thank you,
Donna in Idaho Falls, Idaho

P.S.(Our whole family listens to your show
every week & actually discuss with each
other. More proof that we’re all WACKO?)

P.P.S. (Please reply soon. I am about to
select a new health insurance plan and if I
need a plan that covers mental health
counseling, I’d like to know!)

I heard you empathizing with Rebecca’s rant against her dad’s
"Stupid Little Book". I didn’t like my Dad’s SLB when I was 22 either.
But I updated it religiously (I couldn’t afford to give up his financial
support), and now 50 years later, the data in that first book and many volumes
since has saved me lots of grief. It lets me manage my various cars’
health and expenses. It’s a quick business record for my accountant; I
know how long since I rotated tires or repaired the brakes; and I can
check whether I need gas when the gas gauge is on the fritz. Mechanics are impressed, and treat me with respect, rather than as a stupid female car driver. So maybe
you should have told her that this anal-retentive behavior could actually be
a sign of maturity, rather than a hassle!

I have been using “The Book” for 30 years. I
record all car expenses
(including parking
fees, insurance, depreciation and car washes
other expenses). At the end of the
year I compute the actual cost of
my car on a per mile basis. This number is
then used in my
income taxes for all
deductible expenses that involve
transportation via
car - I add to the
deduction the miles times operating cost. The
allows you to use actual expense of your
car (rather than their very low per
cost) if you have “contemporary records”. The
Book is that record.
Do the math as see how
much you can actually deduct. It’s a real
for some minor pencil pushing.

Your answer to the daughter was perfect -
hope my daughter was listening.