I'm in a Foul Mood
Fair Warning: This Gets Ugly
A buncha cruddy stuff happened to me today. And yesterday. I hate to drag you down, but prepare to be dragged down, Let us advance on a journey to the center of my funk.
Things could be much worse. We can look on the positive side. I'm not headed to jail. My Congressional district isn't represented by a Democrat. I don't have gout. Nevertheless, sufficient frustration besets me.
The tires on the Towne and Country go 'round and 'round
Generally my life gets lived by a code. One fundamental foundational bedrock element of my code is "never buy an automobile from a bankrupt company that needed to be bailed out by consecutive presidential administrations from both sides of the political aisle." Dear reader, if you've ever owned a GM or Chrysler vehicle then surely you grasp the gravity of what I'm talkin' about.
My auto needs tires because I drive it on roads. Tires get purchased, mounted, balanced, and installed through a local establishment offering free lifetime mounting and balancing beyond the original cost. The original cost is exorbitant. I have performed requisite research: I could obtain naked rubber doughnuts much more inexpensively, however coaxing them onto the vehicle is not something I can do in the backyard.
$600 for Tie Rod Ends??
Yesterday (relative to the date of this writing) I delivered my silver Towne and Country into the capable hands of the overpriced tire store*. Comfortable in the knowledge that my wheels were about to be professionally balanced and rotated, I reentered my life. I felt not at all foul.
Foulness arrived as a phone call later that afternoon. Evidently my vehicle demonstrated sloppy handling due to overworked tie rod ends. Most American drivers prefer their handling to operate in a consistent predictable fashion according to inputs guided by the steering wheel. Tie rod ends provide important connections between driver and tires. Two of my four tie rod ends were plumb worn out. Front wheels were wiggly.
*Who spells 'towne' with an 'e' ?? How pretentious does a minivan have to be?
Yes, $600 for tie rod ends
Service writers are the thoughtful folks interfacing with you at auto repair shops. They are honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring. Their job involves explaining precisely how close your car came to killing you and your entire neighborhood. For only $600 you can have new tie rod ends to prevent steering into a ditch in a school zone.
You will never actually see the tie rod ends. Tucked neatly beneath the vehicle, they smoothly operate in complete anonymity. If the vehicle rolled over like a pill bug and you had plenty of free time until the tow truck arrived, you might be able to identify them after watching a few YouTube videos.
Now I understand the free part
Balancing and rotating prevents premature tire wear. You want balanced and rotated tires on all your self-powered vehicles. Free balancing and rotating is a great deal. It's free because I, as a sentient human, willingly turned over my vehicle to be poked and prodded. The service writer calls to offer bad tie rod news: a month of free rotating/balancing won't cure that problem. Only a credit card cures that problem.
Surely I feel better about myself. Knowing that somewhere beneath my Chrysler reside 4 shiny happy threaded metal parts dutifully connecting my steering wheel to the wheels that steer. We all need new components now and then.
They also socked me with a $90 four-wheel alignment, so I have that going for me.
How are your tie rod ends?
Cars cost money. Free services performed on your car sometimes cost money. A bicycle is cheaper but changing radio stations is challenging and the sun roof is always open. Walking costs nothing but your commute should be, like, across the street. A horse doesn't have tie rod ends but you can't park it in a handicapped spot.
I don't know what the answer is.