Saturday, June 16

Break the Bank

I had to take my car in for servicing. My appointment wasn't until today but I didn't want to have to get up early to drop my car off so I took it in yesterday. I knew it needed basic service and that the gas gauge has been acting up but that was about it.

Jeff, the owner of the auto shop called at 7:00 this morning. I was awake. I knew who it was before I answered. Jeff was calling with bad news and I knew it. Sure enough, he called to tell me I needed a new timing belt. My first thought was "Crap... what is that.. maybe $500?'. I asked how much, Jeff told me about $575 because it's not just a timing belt, it's a series of belts. He went on to explain a bunch of things about the timing belt situation and that some oil cap or seal thingy had been falling off Hondas and he wanted to play it safe and replace mine. Apparently, the thing falls off and people lose all of their oil then burn up their engines. This is exactly what happened to my last Honda but nobody knew it was an issue at the time. He said he could save me the extra $50 bucks by waiting but suggested replacing it. I told him to go for it. Grand total for timing belt(s), service and oil cap thingy? $738.82. Ouch!

Before leaving to pick up my car, I closed my bedroom window and a Yankee Candle fell to the floor. It didn't seem to do any damage until the top popped off and hit my piggy bank. Yes, I own a piggy bank. I drop all of my silver change in there. I've had it so long I can tell you how much money in in there by feeling how heavy it's gotten.
This little piggy is holding about $150 in change. It was as though the universe was saying "Don't be blue about the car bill. Remember you've got some cash just lying here on your floor." It was encouraging but... *sigh*

But here's the deal: I've been going to Jeff for about 20 years. $738.72 is pretty steep but I trust Jeff completely. He always explains everything to me and has been fixing Hondas for so long he knows what will wear out when. He keeps up on all the recalls and bulletins and can tell me what needs to be repaired a year in advance. He tells me so I can budget for it. I'd pretty much do whatever he told me to do with my car. When the oil vanished from my last Honda and I had it towed to Jeff, he took a look before giving me the bad news. I was sitting in the waiting area flipping through a magazine when Jeff came out from behind the counter and sat down next to me (not a good sign). He proceeded to tell me that I'd completely blown my engine. He said he could get my car running again and that it would probably even be ok for a year or so but that after that first year it would likely become a money pit. He then rested his hand on mine, looked me in the eyes and said "Go pick out a new Honda this weekend, trade this one in and run like hell." I did. I bought a new Honda that weekend. Looking back, I can't think of any other person on earth I'd listen to like Jeff. Even if my Dad had given me that car buying advice, I doubt I would have followed it that weekend. I swear, if Jeff told me a platinum tiara would make my car drive better I'd run right out and get one. Having a trustworthy mechanic is about as valuable as any other professional you'll ever rely on. Seriously, a good mechanic and a good oncologist are about equal in my book.

I really want my next car to be a Prius. The problem is that Jeff's shop services Hondas and Acuras only. I recently got a notice in the mail announcing that Jeff's shop will now be servicing Toyotas. What a relief! I need to make this Honda last at least another 3 years . I'm so happy I'll be able to get that state-of-the-art Prius without having to break up with Jeff. A break up would be tragic at this point. I try not to think about when Jeff decides to retire. He opened the shop with his partner Ken 20 years ago but Ken moved back to Alabama with his family several years ago. That was upsetting enough. Ken's wife ran the front office. She'd always offer to let me pay for my car repairs later. I was going through college then my first apartment and she had a mom quality to her. She'd always say "Ya know, if you can't afford this right now you can pay me later. I know you're good for it. Besides, I know your mom!" Who does that?! I never took her up on the offer but I loved her for being so kind.

Anyway, it occurs to me now that with the exception of my family & friends, my relationship with Jeff is one of that oldest and most trusted in my life. Well, I've been going to my hair stylist since I was 13 but that's another story for another day.

1 comment:

shandon said...

Does Jeff work on Civic hybrids? I xould use a good mechanic reference...