29 October 2015

The Placebo Effect

I had an introspective moment today. After taking my 2007 VW out on a test run after changing the two accessory belts on it, the car just seemed to feel better. The car seemed to sound a little better and pull a little stronger. But here's the thing... The accessory belts control the AC compressor, water pump, and alternator, they do not affect performance, so to speak, and are perhaps one of the most mundane features on the staid 2.5L I5 engine. Not only that, the belts I was replacing, in all honesty, probably did not need changing (in fact, they're hanging in my garage in the event I'll need a quick emergency fix down the road). They didn't seem stretched, didn't seem cracked, but then again I didn't have THIS WASTE OF MONEY . I just had these new belts laying around from a previous part order to make it the $100 required for free shipping and figured with the car now 8.25 years old and approaching 80k miles, it was a responsible thing to do.

I've noticed a similar result when I do things like check valve lash on my motorcycles, even when they don't need any adjustment whatsoever, they feel better the next time I ride them. Same thing goes for oil changes. It's like there's some kind of subconscious worry that exists until things are verified or replaced, and once you can attest that yes, the exhaust rocker arm clearance really is .008," no there's not metal filings clogging up the engine oil filter (that did actually happen on my wife's Passat). Only then can you stop thinking about every little sound, creak, or rev and start enjoying the ride; or maybe it's just me. It probably is just me...

Maybe I'm the type of person that placebos will work well on, I should keep this introspective post in my back pocket should I ever develop cancer or something.

In other news, the company I work for awarded us safety bonus gift cards, which wound up being just enough money that I could buy Moto Guzzi special tools and spare myself the trouble of fabricating them. I should be getting the starter gear + flywheel holder along with a rear bearing puller in the near future, allowing me to go forward with the engine disassembly. More to come later.

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