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Posted by Cecilia Leger on 3:43 PM



OK so what is it with mechanics' shops and the lack of cleanliness in the waiting area? It's almost like they think the dirtier/greasier the shop, the better work they'll be able to produce. And it's not like I'm a housework goddess myself or anything even remotely related, but I don't understand why every shop I've ever visited (other than the super chains and dealerships) looks the same – threadbare industrial brown/grey carpet with grease spots; uncomfortable, stained chairs; and car magazines that look like they're from the 80s.

If you haven't realized it by now, I'm at the mechanics. I'm very self-reliant when it comes to repairs on my vehicle – I can pump gas, inflate a tire, and turn the radio up to cover over almost any sound – but the current issue is far above my abilities. I think it might be the brakes. Or the CV joints and axle. And I have no idea what that crazy sound my engine made yesterday might mean – nor can I mimic it now since (of course!) the car's not making that sound now that it has an audience.

I drive a Honda Accord. From 1989. It was supposed to be a transition car while I saved up for a new one. That was a couple of years ago. Since it was a "transition" car, I have been completely negligent: I've only changed the oil a couple of times and failed to do any other maintenance on it whatsoever. After all, I'm not keeping it for long, right?

The thing is, at 300+K miles, it's still going strong. Oh I had some issues when I first got it a couple of years back. I had to replace the thingie and my mechanic convinced me that the watchmacallit needed a new part. But other than that, I've not had to give my car much thought or care. So since it's been so good to me, maybe I should stop thinking of it as the rebound car, maybe start contemplating making some sort of commitment here.

You see, I'm jaded. I have been hurt and now I can't let myself trust again. I am a woman with a Past.

A few years after graduating college, flush with the confidence that comes from holding a "real" job, I was ready for my first adult purchase. I haughtily declined any offers of help from my parents and my boyfriend (who were they to tell me what to do?!). I read Consumer Reports; I searched online for tips on negotiation; I drank a lot caffeine, you know the usual. And, armed with all my strategies and wisdom, I walked into my first dealership. I walked out about two hours later with a key and a huge debt that I'd failed to negotiate down (in all the excitement of going on my first test drive, I forgot). After all my research, I picked, you know…. the pretty green one.

A Ford Escort.

A Ford Escort that clearly had enjoyed its short stay at the dealership and wasn't ready to go anywhere else just yet. It proceeded to live at said dealership's mechanic shop for the better part of the next two years. First, I spent a ton of money to replace the timing belt. Impossible, you say. But you'd be wrong. The mechanic did explain to me that it wasn't the timing belt itself that had failed; it was the screws which held it together which were poorly made and had basically rusted (yes, in a year!) and then caused the timing belt's demise.

Mind you, this was after already having spent a ton of money trying to find the non-existent flaw that kept making the service engine light come one.

Among other issues, the car kept going in and out of the shop because the Service Engine light kept coming on! Every time I took it in for service, they couldn't figure out what the problem was, but it cost me around $150 per trip.

Finally, we realized that that the little computer chip (which, of course was not covered by warranty) that kept detecting a flaw and making the light come on was itself flawed. It would cost $3500 to fix. There was no way to shut it off or remove it; it was so costly to repair because the whole engine had to be removed in order to reach it.

After costing me more in repairs than what I had paid down on the debt, I found myself with no money, a car I couldn't drive or fix or sell, and a serious lack of trust of anything on four wheels.

So fast forward six years and now here I sit, ready to admit that perhaps I have been too harsh. Maybe I'm punishing my Honda for sins the Ford committed. Maybe I should have been more careful, taken better of it. In fact, I know that's what I should have done. And, if given the chance, I can do better! I vow to change the oil at least every 6, no 8, no 10… every 10K miles. And I should find out what everyone means when they talk about a tune up. In fact, I promise that from now on, I will -----

******

Um.... The mechanic says my brakes are fine; there's a small crack in the axle, but nothing serious, and the engine's OK.

So, never mind.

2 Comments


Hmm, mechanics spend most of their time at the shop to tend to cars, repairing some axle here or some gear there, or changing the oil of an engine here before checking out the wiring of the car there. But at the end of the day, or if there's free time, they also clean their surroundings to keep anyone from slipping on the greasy floor. Anyway, how's your Honda Accord now? It’s a good thing the brakes are fine, even though there was a little crack. Let’s just hope that crack won’t get worse in the future.


Detect the oil leakage by cleaning the engine with the help of degreaser.
reparo de para-brisas

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