Monday, February 20, 2006

Dude, where's my car repair shop? (part 2)

Part 1 is here.

I did the usual things to make sure Franz was really gone. I looked up his phone number. I called directory assistance. I looked up his business license on the internet and found out it was overdue for renewal. I looked up the replacement company, Sleazy Used Cars R Us (not their real name). They've been there since November. Since I got Franz's last name off the business license, I tried to find his home number: no listing. He's really gone.

So I had to find a new mechanic, before my left wheel fell off or the clickety-clickety-clickety turned into KA-BOOM! or something. The problem was to find somebody who's competent, honest, cheap, and will take same-day appointments.

My first choice was Rick's place. That's where we used to go before we went to Franz. They did good work, and we knew we could trust them because Rick the service manager was my kids' karate teacher, so obviously he wouldn't rip us off. Not only that, we could usually get a same-day appointment, at least to look at the car, if not to fix it. The problem was, they're kind of expensive.

That's why we stopped going there. When our Honda needed a new timing belt, my wife wanted me to call a bunch of places and try the cheapest one. I said why bother, since we already have a place that's good and honest? (And that has nothing to do with me hating change.) She said let's find a place that's good, honest, and cheap. I said that's unlikely. She said you won't know unless you try. I said, OK, OK, I'll call. (Sheesh.) So I called around, and Franz was the cheapest, so I let him change our timing belt, and he turned out to be good, honest, and cheap. So we kept going to him for like four years before he disappeared.

So anyway, I wanted to go back to Rick's, because we know he's good and honest. (Plus, even though it's a change, it's a change back, so it's kind of not really a change.) But my wife said I should call around again. I said it wouldn't work this time, because we don't know what's wrong. With something specific like a timing belt, you can see how much they charge to fix it, if they try to add a bunch of charges, what their attitude is like, and so on. When you don't know what's wrong, you have no way of knowing if they're ripping you off or what. They could just make up the most expensive thing they can think of, and how would we know the difference? We wouldn't. So let's just go back to Rick's.

But my wife said, well, then let's just ask all our friends where they go. I couldn't figure out a good argument against that I mean, that sounded reasonable, so we did. We came up with several options. Of course, we could go to the dealer. The plus side is that they know how to fix Dodges and they're probably pretty honest. The minus side is that they're expensive and hard to get appointments with. Then there was another place that we had a pretty good impression of, but a friend said that she took her car there and they charged her $100 just to look at it and then said they couldn't fix it. We hate bad attitudes like that, so they were out. Then there was a place that a lot of people said was great, but they only do European and Asian cars, the effete snobs, so they were out too. Maybe we could take the Honda there sometime, but I'd rather just go to one place anyway. It's bad enough trying to find one mechanic, much less two.

There were a couple of other places that people were happy with, but they're expensive and hard to get appointments with. And several people said that if we already know an honest place, we should just go there. I agreed. (And that has nothing to do with hating change.)

So my wife was almost convinced I mean, Rick's was looking like the best solution, but then my wife said that her Japanese friend said that her Colombian friend's husband's Mexican friend fixes cars. Yeah, that's what I thought too. Um… what? It turns out that this guy is some sort of car whiz or something, and in his spare time fixes people's cars. Or something. And maybe he speaks English. Or not. And maybe he has professional experience. Or not. And maybe he has a full set of tools. Or not. For some reason, my wife finds that kind of mechanic appealing. I don't. Can we please just go to Rick's? We can. I was happy.

On the other hand, my kids had sort of given up on karate -- they hadn't been to class for months -- so it would be a little awkward talking to Rick. But I could get through that OK. So I called him, and took the car in (same-day appointment). The clickety-clickety-clickety was coming from the lash adjusters. Changing the oil and the filter fixed that. The grrrreeewwwo was coming from the strut or something. It's just worn, but there's no danger of failure or anything, so if I don't mind the noise and the bumpy ride there's no hurry to fix it. See what I mean? They found the problem and didn't try to build it up into some big thing.

And I start karate lessons next week.

1 comment:

  1. Had a problem myself with a timing belt, though Martin at sorted me out. Stocks all sorts of dodge bearings too which is nice. :)


What do you think?