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More Fun With My Car
February 29, 2008, 12:24 am
Filed under: Life | Tags: ,

The check engine light came on in my car yesterday morning as I was on my way to work. At first it freaked me out because it was flashing and I know just enough about cars to know that a flashing check engine light means you should immediately stop driving and call your mechanic. So I had already started going into a controlled panic and was pulling my car over onto a side street when the light stopped flashing. If I hadn’t already been in that semi-panicked mode it probably would have occurred to me sooner that the light just always flashes at you a bit when it first comes on, which it turns out is true but I didn’t learn that until that afternoon at the mechanic. So I immediately called my mechanic, which was easy since the number is programmed into my phone (a good indicator of just how reliable my car is), and I made an appointment to take it in as soon as possible. I pretty quickly figured out that I had overreacted to the light but figured it was a good idea to get it fixed promptly anyway. The whole mechanic thing was pretty routine and generally dissatisfying – one big-ish problem and lots of little things that might be causing it. So they fixed a bunch of little things and told me that it may or may not solve the big-ish problem but at least the light is off again – I really hate driving around with the check engine light on, it makes me edgy.

With a car like mine I figure it’s mentally healthier to take these things in stride, so I’m not wasting time worrying about the car or freaking out about the money, but I was truly disappointed this morning when I was deprived of one of the few redeeming qualities of the whole ‘broken car’ experience. There are two things that actually make me happy when I go to the mechanic – bulking up my REI dividend by charging the expense to my REI credit card and getting a free car wash (and sometimes a third when I get to telecommute from Cupcake Royale a few blocks away from my mechanic). I was actually excited enough about the car wash that I specifically asked my mechanic when I checked in my car to make sure it would get cleaned before I got it back (my car hadn’t been washed for months and it was insanely dirty). So this morning after paying for all the little repairs that may or may not have fixed my car (adding $6.20 to my dividend!), I was eagerly waiting for them to pull my car around the corner looking all sleek and shiny again, reminding me of why I bought the stupid thing in the first place. I was pretty crushed when it appeared just as covered in muck, maybe even more so, as it was when I dropped it off. Of course by this time I was already an hour late for work and really felt that it would be ridiculous to go back in and ask them to take my car back and wash it. So I sucked it up and climbed into my dirty car, which of course didn’t feel as nice to drive as it would have if it were shiny, and drove to Everett feeling pretty sour about the whole thing. So now I’m left wondering if I should just sell my car before it falls apart completely, and whether my mechanic would give me a free car wash if I go back and ask.

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1 Comment so far
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Maybe it’s a sign that the overall commitment to service that the mechanic has is slipping. I haven’t been to that one, but I’ve found others in the area are all pretty excited to give you a survey after major repairs like this. It might be worth it to take their survey if they offer, and tell them about the minor issue that you perceive as a sign of overall quality. I’ve gone as far as to write a letter to service managers. A mechanic should instill confidence in driving your car. If you’ve come to expect that added value, and they no longer provide it, I know another that will.

Comment by Ari




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