Mechanically Retarded! So what now!?
I could do oil changes and replace simple parts on my old Opel Kadet, but this new(er) way of building engines is confusing for somebody who can't remember the darn sizes of tools in the right order!
My mechanical insufficiencies (is that a new word?) are older... I came to this country and thought I was more than the tool-control lacking... wife (I hate that word! At least when it comes to the Diesel Mechanic Ex that made me pay for oil changes!).
One day the Ex told me to get him a 5/16 and two sizes smaller... SOOOOOOO!
WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRANSLATE OR HAVE ME WHIP THE CALCULATOR OUT!?
Where I come from everything is dividable by TEN! Considering that German Education ranks higher than American and American college math was in my tenth grade (which is the final grade for high school!!!) curriculum, we do have much easier ways of marking our tools...
So when you want a 12mm socket and two sizes smaller... Hmmmmh.... 11mm, 10mm!
See!? Idiot Proof!
So yes, I never got too friendly with mechanics!
The first scratch was made by a lady in her eighties... A few weeks before I was to be moving to NC and less than a year after I bought it!
I take a left turn and stay on the right lane. She takes a left turn, coming towards me, and ends up smack in front of me! The choice was to hit her in the side and total my car or to somehow squeeze in between a full-size SUV and her rear. I managed to miss the SUV by half an inch and clipped her rear; sending this Grammy into a police spin and scaring the hell out of her!
The maker of this car fixed it... OH MY GOD! NEVER AGAIN! After a two hour bitching contest they finally managed to get my hood to close. The lights, bumper and hood don't align and I ended up buying a 'wind-catcher' to cover it up! The painted parts have 'orange skin' looks!
Next time I have my neighbor's kids do it with the spray can and plastic tools. I'm sure they get it right!
The kids' bikes did some more and eventually I needed two expensive repairs. I was in Kuwait and the person driving it didn't know better. That same 'maker' charged several hundred dollars to put a tiny sensor somewhere in the middle of my engine!
For a while there was nothing big besides wear and tear. I love this car and used to spend a lot of money on becoming the World's coolest Mom. The dragon pedals were part of it!
By now I was no longer married; even if that would have made any difference (remember the Diesel Mechanic thing and the paid-for oil-change?!) One day I go outside to do something and notice a giant water puddle under my car...
A coworker (I owe you, Tim!) replaced the almost completely pulverized water pump...
Three weeks later another puddle!
This time it was one hose and one pipe... but the 'maker' only sells it as the entire thing and the lousy mechanic shop wanted to make the money!
A few weeks later...
A gasket on the top somewhere was leaking... I cursed and had another shop fix it! Shortly after I thought I do something good to my car and have a transmission service done!
Two weeks later... I FELT LIKE AN IDIOT...
when my transmission went out a week before I was finally moving to my (LAST) new house!
By now I usually smile about it. Somehow I get this idea I am destined to marry Mr. Murphy!
Mr. Murphy is an interesting fellow. He is much more faithful than my Ex; having never left me. And he is always there when I (DON'T) need him... That seems to be a male trade!
If you haven't figured out yet who he is... he is into law... Even has his own law firm called....
It took me three months of $70 round-trips with caps to go shopping to come up with the money to fix it. The lousy shops had wanted between $2000-3000 to fix it. Wade charged me $1300 for a used one. When he asked me if it was OK that it had 30,000 miles on it, I LAUGHED!
My old one had lasted 130,000 miles!
So if I still have 100,000 miles to go with it... it may outlive my car!
Did I curse myself with that statement?!
By now I am a regular at Wade's shop and Johnny Bravo and Bobby are always fun to talk to. Johnny Bravo is a pain in the arse who picks on helpless women (I can give as good as he does!), but it's fun.... JUST NOT THAT MUCH FUN!
I go to get a front-end alignment done after Tim changed my struts and the front springs.
Four hours of waiting and 15 minutes of them looking and they hand me a $400 estimate!
The inner tire road was done on one side and I needed two new tires. In reality the tire rod was $20 at the auto part store and the second tire was still almost brand-new!
So Bobby did the tire rod and some other wear and tear stuff and I am going back for the next alignment attempt...
This time it was the ?bearings!
Sometimes I wonder if they get tired of seeing my car!
Take three in the alignment attempts was the other inner tire rod! Or maybe that take four or five or six!?
Eventually we got it done! The mechanic was wondering why I had been checking the clock and looked so relieved after a certain time... I told him that my car had never made it past 15 minutes at any of the alignment attempts and this was a record...
Until he told me the tires were bad!
I spare you the long-time issues with a certain tire center at a certain Superstore! If you ever move, have them check the records IN THE MAIN DATABASE, not just the one for the store! Keep all bills from them and all the numbers for EVERY STORE YOU EVER USED!
In between I had also replaced a windshield that finally cracked from a old chip in it from a rock...
Sooooooo when the truck shot a tennis ball size rock at me, I about lost it! It nipped the windshield and scratched across my roof (not that dogs and cats and kids left much of the shiny paint unscratched anyway!).
Within an hour the chip was a two feet long crack!
I am going home, cursing, growling and bitching on the phone ...when it becomes REALLY quiet!
My A/C went out in the hottest month of the year!
Wade fixed it somewhat and for a while it seemed alright... until the heat went out during the first cooler days!
Wade fixed it!
The first REALLY COLD day it goes out again!
They do sell those small heaters you plug into your cigarette lighter, but those warm either your feet or defrost your windshield!
I had planned on getting it fixed when personal disaster struck. And before I got a change to get it done... I HAVE A 'FUNNY' NOISE!
This time it is some A/C something that gets moved by the belt I helped Bobby put on because his hands are too big to fit in there easily.
You see, the 'maker' build this car so tight that nobody in his right mind wants to mess with it other than his own mechanics!
So tomorrow is the day when I find out if it will cost me the last bit of sanity to get it fixed ONCE AGAIN or if I will finally loose my mind!
The moral of the story:
Marry a mechanic and buy a gun!
IF you mechanic won't fix it for you, have the gun convince him/her!
IF the mechanic can't fix it, put both him/her and the car out of their misery!
If it wouldn't be for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all! And if it wouldn't be for Mr. Murphy, I wouldn't know that there are faithful men out there!
....Still wonder if either the car or I are cursed!?
A few thoughts about respect...
I learned something early in my life: Respect everybody like you want to be respected and you will gain more than you could have imagined!
When you do find those rare and special honest mechanics (you can research by asking auto part shops and those that use a lot of mechanics), hold on to them!
You can do this with a few simple things we should use when dealing with anybody: respect, honesty, fairness and yes, a bit of faithfulness too!
If treating a custodial worker with respect will gain you a roll of toilet paper when you need it, a Sir or Ma'am was worth the spit!
While I get to joke around a lot with Wade and the 'boys', I treat them with respect. Today was once again an example on how it pays off. He could have recommended a hundreds of dollars expensive replacement of a few breaking parts on my car. Instead I may have lost my A/C due to a 'clutch'? that doesn't disengage anymore and could have caused more damage, but it was a MUCH, MUCH less hole in my wallet after everything was said and done.
A lot of repair shops will tell you the easy and benefiting for them solutions. I could have saved me the hundreds of dollars when the ONE pipe and ONE hose needed to be replaced. The 'boys' told me surprised that all it took was to get those TWO parts and 'make it work'! Instead that shop back at my former house charged me an arm and a leg for something I didn't need!
Respect results in honesty!
Honesty goes a long way! Sometimes it feels like that God punishes us in one way or another if we are dishonest. At least those people that he considers worthy! When I go to the shop, I am honest with them for the start. Ask him/them what it will take and tell them what you can do! "I have this amount of money! What can I get fixed from my long list? If I can't do all that, what are my options?"
I know the 'boys' now well enough and when I needed help, they have always been helping me out! I may not be able to show my gratitude with more than a box or two of doughnuts, but it was a token of my appreciation and came from the heart!
Fairness is important to me! I want to be treated fair and so does the shop. If you keep taking advantage of the 'guys', they will get tired of helping you out. Yes, you would love to save money! BUT, they work for a living just like you do! And if they are as great as the 'boys' from my favorite repair shop, THEY DESERVED EVERY PENNY!
I am faithful to those that treat me right; especially the private folks! I rather pay a private business owner than a corporation that is only after my money anyway. Too many small businesses are lost and create a hole corporations can't fill. The honest customer service and care for their customers can't be matched by any corporation!
If I find a good place, I will come back, I will talk to people about them and I will hand out their business cards! I have written thank you notes on classified websites for them before or rated them on places like the yellow pages or yahoo! They helped me and usually saved me a ton of money! So why not help them in return!?
I didn't lose my car today to repairs I could not have been able to afford! And tomorrow I will use some of the money I didn't have to spend and get my heater fixed! I know they will take care about me. And if that card I handed out today gained them a customer, both they and the customer deserved that opportunity for a great 'business' relationship!
Wade, Bobby and Johnny Bravo: Thank you very much!