Thursday, June 19, 2008
How to Ruin Your Car... In a Jiffy
Once upon a time...
I'm a poor college student and my car needs an oil change. Every time before this I've been able to do it when I'm back in California at my parents' house. But not this time. And I live in apartments that won't let me work on my car. Dang it! I'm going to have to *gulp* have someone else change my oil...
But I've heard so many horror stories. Like the guy who used to work at an oil change place and told my dad about how they would lose track of whose oil drain plug was whose, so they'd just grab the nearest one and keep twisting until the oil stopped coming out. Stories of messy disasters, or worse yet, engines that drowned to death because of overfilled crank cases. Or the people who thought their car sounded funny after an oil change and discovered after driving away that there was no oil in their car. [Look guys, it's pretty simple. In essence, a 2 step process. #1 Drain the old oil. #2 PUT NEW OIL IN!!!]
Well, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I guess I take my car somewhere... But wait! They'll use cheap dino oil. AND A FRAM OIL FILTER!!! (For more on this see "Filters to Avoid: Fram Extra Guard" here.) No, it will be okay because I will bring my own synthetic oil and oil filter and have them use it. Sure, they'll charge me the same as a regular oil change, but it's a whole lot cheaper than paying them to put their synthetic oil in my car. I guess that just proves that regular dino oil is so worthless, they don't even charge you for it!
Okay, so now I'm sitting here in the waiting room that smells like stale cigarette smoke, waiting for them to finish while I worry about how they're messing up. I HATE having people work on my car. Car mechanics always treat me like a dumb broad, no matter how well informed I come across. [Flash forward: I can now confirm this is not just me crying "sexist." I always make M talk to car mechanics because he gets radically better results. He and I can ask the exact same question. I get a one sentence blow off. M gets a 20 minute in-depth explanation.] But wait! Did I just call these guys "car mechanics"? Because seriously, these guys aren't even. They're lower than mechanic scum. Mechanic school drop outs. These are guys that couldn't cut it as actual mechanics!!! And I'm trusting them with my car?!?!?
Okay, breathe. Breathe. I'm going to be okay. My car's going to be okay. But I have to do something. I'll just stand up and hover a little. You know, give them the evil eye through the big windows. Watch 'em like a hawk. I can almost hear them laughing at the crazy girl in the waiting room that brought her own oil and filter. Yah well, laugh if you want. But if you screw up my car, you won't be laughing anymore. Now pay attention to what you're doing, ya drop outs!
[Flash forward again: M discovered a much more effective technique for "hovering." When you see them struggling to figure out how to get to the oil filter on your Passat, lean your head out onto the floor and gently suggest that they're either going to have to move the coolant reservoir or else take the air hose off the intake manifold. After that, they pretty much know you're going to notice that they never lube the seal on the oil filter, let alone if they neglect to put any oil back in your car.]
Okay. Here comes the annoying part where they tell me about all the other maintenance I "need." Blah, blah, blah. Whatever it is, no! I can put new windshield wiper blades on myself, thankyouverymuch. And I can barely stand to let you change my oil. Do you really think I'm going to let you flush my transmission fluid? I don't want you anywhere NEAR my transmission. In fact, does this mean you LOOKED at my transmission? Oh man. If it breaks now there's gonna be hell to pay. I'll know you guys jinxed it and now... Wait! Did you just say I need a new air filter?!?!? Okay, now that's just rich. If we consult my trusty logbook that has a record of everything I've ever done to my car (including the date, mileage, quantity, and price of every gas fill up), you'll see that I just changed my air filter 1,000 miles ago. (And now that I've spilled the beans about my logbook, all of you can just stop laughing at my anal retentiveness now. No really, stop!)
Phew, okay. They're giving me my car keys back. I inspect my car. It looks okay. I start it up. It sounds okay. There's just one last problem. What kind of fool do they take me for? So I go back to one of the guys. They look at me confused. "That's it. You'll all finished," they tell me.
"No," I say, "I want the rest of my oil. I gave you a five quart jug of oil. My car takes about three and a half quarts. Where's the rest of my oil??? Who do you think I am? Some idiot who's stupid enough to have other people change their oil???"