mechanical failure

Well, it’s no secret that I’ve had a hell of a time with my car lately.

This month was no exception.

I already knew that my brakes were having problems and probably needed new pads if not new rotors. I also knew that my auxiliary coolant pump was leaking. What I didn’t know the explanation for, however, was my HORRIBLE gas mileage – between 4 and 14 mpg, at the most.

So, I just took it in to the shop here in town, Autohaus, where I have taken it the past two times. I’ve given them about $4k of business over the past 3 months, so I figured we were building a pretty decent relationship.

So, I bring the car in Thursday, but I didn’t hear from them all day. So I call Frank, the shop’s answer-the-phone-guy, and ask what’s up. He says he “forgot” to call me, and tells me they had to order the coolant pump.

“Fine”, I think, figuring I can just go pick up the car and bring it back in when the pump comes in. But, no – turns out he already had the car in the lift and was working on it. Funny, I don’t remember him asking me to do that. (which technically is illegal).

But, anyways, that’s not a huge deal – since I knew all the stuff they found needed replacing anyway. So he forgot to call; I can forgive that.

He also asked if it was okay if they did a tune-up. I said it was fine, and asked if they were just gonna do the plugs and wires or what? “just plugs for now”, he says. Okeydoke.

So, the next day, after they replace the coolant pump, I pick up the car, and he tells me they didn’t really have a chance to take a look at why it was getting bad mileage, and says “just bring it in on monday”.

So, I brought it on Monday (which was a huge inconvenience, since I was actually going out of town for work that day), and 30 minutes after I dropped it off (while I’m on the road), he calls me back.

Frank: Well, we checked the exhaust on your car, and it tested within the limits..
Frank: .. *silence*
Chris: *silence* .. waiting to see what they found
Frank: .. so you can come pick up your car now.
Chris: uhh.. okay

So, I was a little confused. I go down there to pick up the car and ask what he thinks it might be. “I dunno,” he says, “the spark plug wires are notorious for arcing – maybe on we can replace them on your next tune-up”. On my NEXT TUNE-UP?! What the hell happened during this tune-up?

Well, anyways, I just left, bewildered – the realization of what had happened still sinking in.

The day after I spent about 5 minutes poring over my car to see if I could tell what was wrong – It didn’t take long. It was running worse than ever, and now it was easy to spot what was wrong. My spark plug wires are arcing so bad through the wires you can see it in broad daylight. Giant arcs with every firing right through the wire into the engine block.

So, I can only assume what happened was that they had no problem doing $500 worth of work on my brakes and coolant pump – but when it came to changing my plug wires, I guess they just don’t have time.

I went ahead and ordered spark plug wires and I’ll replace them on my own. What a pain in the ass.

Time to find a new mechanic – one that gives a shit about my car. You better believe I’m gonna bitch about this on Car Talk’s Mechan-X Files.