Friday, February 02, 2007

Car. Garr.

My Saturn died on Wednesday night. Or, more accurately, became violently ill. The clutch decided to stop functioning on the way to work. You can technically drive a stick shift without a clutch, but it's not good for the car or your sense of calm. I made it the rest of the way to work, then to Mike's house, then home, but it wasn't fun. So Laura and I are a one-car family until we can get it fixed. I don't think it'll strain our relationship, but it's definitely a strain on our schedules. If anyone knows a good, trustworthy mechanic, let me know.

Trustworthy is the more difficult part of that. The dealership where I bought my last car (the Plymouth Colt) is where Laura had been taking her Jeep for service. We're not sure if they're bad at their jobs or just dishonest. But we had many problems with the Jeep, and they could never fix them. After a month wherein we had the car in their shop six times, they were recommending replacing the computer and a big chunk of wiring. We went to a different Jeep dealership -- in Richmond, Indiana -- and their mechanic located the problem and fixed it with a twist tie. The dealership in Indy had broken something in the electrical system while doing an exhaust repair. I don't know if the local dealership was just incompetent, or if they actually knew what the problem was and were planning on doing a huge repair job anyway. But the problem is that we can't trust them; the next time they tell us we need a huge repair, we won't know if we actually need a twist tie.

I had a similar encounter with the Midas shop at 10th and Shadeland. A guy I worked with had a rattle under his car. I looked, and one of the tabs where his manifold bolts on had rusted through. I told him that he needed a quick spot weld, but when he took it to Midas they told him he needed a new exhaust system, from the catalytic converter back. He took it down the street to Meineke, and they did the spot weld and charged him $20. I've heard dozens of similar stories from family and friends (a surprising number of which involve the auto repair shops attached to department stores like K-Mart and Sears); it's making me nervous about taking my car for service.

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