Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The world hasn't gone to hell quite yet

Just when you think that we are all packed safely and securely into our little handbaskets, seatbelts fastened, and well on the way on our journey straight to hell, something (or someone) comes along to make you think again.

Now you may or may not know that I have had some extensive car trouble in my (relatively short) driving life. First there was that unfortunate accident in which I wrote off my grandmother's 1992 Honda Accord, the one which she had driven incident-free for many years. After that I needed a new car, so I acquired my current little treasure... a 1993 Lancer. This particular car has almost 170,000kms on the clock and has obviously had a long and difficult life, filled with many hardships. Unfortunately, none of these hardships disappeared when it moved in with me.
Let's see, in the two years I've had the Lancer, we've been through:
  • Replacement of the airconditioning unit

  • Faulty alternator

  • Radiator blowup (on the Story Bridge during weekday-morning peak hour... gee, that was a good one)

  • Replacement radiator

  • Replacement radiator top hose

  • Flat tyre (maybe that doesn't count)

  • Ignition switch failure (on Ipswich Rd during weekday-afternoon peak hour... in the right-hand turning lane... followed by me trying to push the Lancer across four lanes on incoming traffic into a side street... that was another good one)

  • Four incidents when I had to be towed

  • Somewhere around $1500 in repairs

  • Two overnight stays in car hospital

So, whilst I love my car, mainly because it gets me to work and back each day, it fairly often fails to do that. I have become increasingly philosophical about the car. I am on first-name terms with the RACQ call centre, as with my mechanic. One day I will trade this car in, unless it kills me first (or I kill it).

Anyway, things being what they are, I was not surprised a few weeks ago to notice the thermostat climbing rapidly while on Old Cleveland Road. Pulled over into the servo. Knew I was useless at finding the problem, so called the RACQ. Thank you, bronze-level membership. RACQ guy poured some water into the radiator and sent me on my way, cautioning me to keep one eye on the thermostat. That weekend, I did a full check of all the levels, armed with my copy of A Girl's Guide to Car Maintenance. So far, so good.

Yesterday, though, driving innocently to the shops for cookie ingredients, ye olde thermostat once again did its climbing routine. Pulled over, swearing to myself. The 2 litres of spare water in the back seat went into the radiator, and I drove on.

Thermostat climbs again... slowly. I grabbed my mobile and rang my mechanic. "Hi... yeah, it's me. Can I bring it in now? Great". Drove the wreck into the mechanic's yard. Immediately, the monkey wrench boys swung into action. The car went up on the rack, a FAULTY BOTTOM RADIATOR HOSE was located and repaired (sigh... first the top hose, then this: I should have seen it coming). The boys then spent another twenty minutes checking and testing the engine, doing a complete flush-out of all the tap water in there and filling up with nice juicy new coolant, and double-checking the stupid radiator once again. Meanwhile, one of them got me a chair to sit on while I read the paper. Someone took my car out for a spin round the block to make sure it was running properly. Talk about thorough...

When all was done and the car was ready (ready as it was ever going to get) to start trying to get me around town again, the boys tidied it up for me and parked it out the front. I wandered into the office, waiting for my invoice for the repairs. Waiting: no invoice. Glancing through the magazines: no invoice. Eventually I asked the reception lady what the deal was. She made a phone call, and then my mechanic came running into the office.

"Don't worry about it", he said, "it's on us".

It could have been the fact that I left him a six-pack of beer last time for finding me a new ignition switch with three hours' notice, but such kind, honest and gentlemanly behaviour hasn't been seen for a long time. Now I know I have the best and most trustworthy mechanic in town.

Thank you again, Mobil Car Care!


Anonymous said...

Hi there

Trying to contact you re, a piece I am writing. Do you have an email addy where I can contact you?


Pinky said...

Nat, visit my profile.

KJ said...

Hi Pinky. Hang onto those guys for dear life. Good and honest and nice mechanics. Who knew they even existed?