Tuesday, August 5, 2008

'Car'ma Chameleon - Part I

My 'car'ma keeps shifting from good to bad. Maybe the mechanic might say that I need a change in the shifting gear as well, the way things are going.
Last winter, during the few days when we actually had super-duper cold weather, my beloved ageing Camry was forced to spend the night outside the garage, due to some work that required the space in the garage. When I fired up the ignition in the morning and started rolling down the driveway, I heard the most horrible clanking sound, which mysteriously vanished at higher speeds. I drove the car like that for a day till I could get it to the nearest mechanic (let's call him Andy).
At Andy's the problem was diagnosed as being a power steering rack which would cost approximately $700 in parts and labor. Andy helpfully topped off the transmission fluid, which he said, had gone low, because of a possible leak.
700 bucks- We looked blue in the face. My husband suggested that I try to drive the car some more days before we decided on getting the power steering rack replaced. The car continued to work like a charm, and still does about 8 months later, with no power steering rack replacement.
This month is inspection time for the Camry. So I duly took it down to Andy's for the annual ritual and paperwork. This time, the call comes : "It's passing emissions testing, but you need 3 new tires and a replacement of the power steering rack to pass inspection."
"How much for the tires?"
"'$97.55 + tax and labor."
"How much for the power steering rack?"
"$610, parts and labor"
"Can I just have you do the tires and come back later for the power steering rack?"
"Lady, it won't pass inspection unless you replace all of these", said Andy in a faintly exasperated tone.
A few minutes of muttered confabulations with my husband later, I called up Ed in __ville: the very same Ed who had held my husband's minivan hostage for a full week, incommunicado as to his whereabouts, apologetically and for free returned it, and then vanished from the radar, with no returned phone calls. Yes, we do have Stockholm syndrome towards auto mechanics, and go back in desperation to the very place we vowed never to go back to again.
Ed didn't seem to recognize my voice. "Bring it in tomorrow for the inspection and emission."
Ed, you're my only hope now.
I collected my car keys at Andy's and goggled at the bill -'$97 for an oil change, that can't be right!'
Andy said "The car's passed emission, so I put the sticker on for that. Let me know what you wanna do about the other items." I gave a general nod and decamped with my precious car.
At Ed's: "Do you want me to do just the inspection? You say that it needs new tires?"
Vigorous nods. As we left, my husband turned to me "With any luck, he won't be saying anything about that power steering rack needing replacing."
All day long, no phone calls. We moved into the weekend, when Ed is unfortunately closed. Help, my car has been kidnapped by Ed now and held captive for 3 days now!

(To be continued...)


Lekhni said...

Oh yes, one big chain store that R used to swear by caused him to swear much more when he realized they were overcharging him for everything. We found another chain which is much better :)

Sujatha said...

We do like to cling to our first auto mechanics like they are baby's security blankets, don't we? :)