Friday, May 30, 2008

Punchline from a car...

There is no good time for a car to turn sour. There are merely better times than others.

A Friday night of Memorial Day weekend is not one of those good times. Here's the story: My car's RPM started to drop noticibly when idling. Not good. Faced with the holiday weekend and a planned Tuesday plane trip, I decided not to try to get the car to the dealer on Saturday morning ... since it wouldn't be back in time to get to the airport. So I took it to a local place, which shall be known as Pep Boys ... because that's what it was.

I was told when dropping it off that it would be $84 to take a look around, and that "it wouldn't be long" until they got to it. No call as of Saturday afternoon, so I called. They hadn't gotten to it. I went to work that night and called. They hadn't gotten to it, but would be on it first thing Sunday. When I called Sunday at noon, they hadn't gotten to it. Later that afternoon, someone was on it but hadn't finished. So I went to work Sunday night.

I got up Monday and called about 11 a.m. I was told the third mechanic was looking at it, trying to figure out what was wrong. At 1 p.m., I finally got an unsolicited call, saying that the mechanic was suggesting about $500 worth of steps in an effort to improve the fuel flow. Since I still had to get to the airport and had little confidence that the mechanics had figured anything out, I told them I'd just pick up the car. So I did, paying the $84 and gleefully noticing that there was an on-line survey.

Then came the punchline.

I went out to the car, and started it. The hesitation while idling was gone. The car ran fine.

It ran fine to the airport the next day, and on the way back two days later. The timing isn't quite perfect when it switches gears during acceleration, but it's nothing I can't live with for now.

My guess is that something that was blocking fuel flow was cleaned out during the inspection by one member of the battery of mechanics. It would have been good if someone had turned the key and noticed that. It also would have been good if someone did a better job of keeping the customer informed about the car's progress.

I know automotive problems can be tough to diagnose, but my only satisfaction from the weekend was getting to fill out the survey. "Would you tell your friends to come to Pep Boys."

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