Blogs » The Grapevine » A very busy weekend - Part 1

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From trying out a new wine bar to flooding and car troubles, my weekend was pretty eventful. So much so that it will take at least three blog posts to cover them all.

In this post, I will start with my car problems, as this spans back several weeks and came to a head yesterday when I found that my car is worse off now than it was before this all started.

Soon after moving to Victoria, I took my four-door sedan to a rather large automotive service department to have some work done (to protect their identity, I will not name them or reveal what kind of car I own). I was told my valve cover gasket was leaking large amounts of oil onto my input shaft speed sensor and both needed to be replaced, seemingly easy enough, but at $500, pretty pricey.

The first sign of trouble came soon after this diagnosis, as I picked up my car and ordered the necessary parts for repair. While discussing a day I could bring my car back in the following week, the service manager casually mentioned the mechanic had already changed the oil. I found this odd considering two sentences before he was explaining the severity of my oil leak.

I let this slide, however, chalking it up to the fact that I am not a mechanic, even though I am a mechanic’s daughter and I have common sense.

Upon replacing the gasket, however, a crack was discovered in the valve cover (which went unnoticed the two days they had it previously). OK, so again I’m not a mechanic (although I have an idea of how easy it is to crack a plastic valve cover when trying to bolt it down after replacing a gasket), so I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt again. The valve cover is the original on the car (a 2001 model), so inevitably it will need to be replaced, right?

Since the crack was around a bolt, per the mechanic, I chose the JB Weld option over spending an additional $300 for a valve cover. (Even though the service manager called it a JW Weld, obviously not knowing what he was talking about.) But from the moment I drove away from the shop, the smell of burning fluid polluted my car.

Naively thinking (and hoping) it was just oil spilled on the engine, I took it to the car wash and gave it a good spray. Unfortunately, the smell persisted and suddenly the check engine light came back on.

Returning the car back to the service department, I was told that the valve cover was holding up fine and the smell was not oil. In fact, coincidentally, I’d sprung a leak in my radiator and it needed to be replaced. Really? Because that was not a problem before I took the car into this shop.

I not so politely told them further repairs would be done elsewhere.

My new mechanic popped the hood right in front of me and showed me the problems. First hand, I saw that the other mechanic hadn’t welded my valve cover at all, but put silicone on it and oil was leaking out at an alarming rate. I also saw the crack at the top of my radiator, confirming that it needed to be replaced, along with my serpentine belts.

I can’t prove that the first mechanic cracked my valve cover or sat his fat butt over the grill of my car, causing a crack in the radiator, but I can say that my new mechanic taught me that just because you don't know how to fix your own car, doesn't mean that you have to be duped by your mechanic. Had I gone into the shop and demanded the mechanic show me the car’s problems, I might have taken my business to this new guy in the first place (who clearly deserves my business more than the other guy) and might have avoided this $1100 repair bill.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will tell you all about my dancing days at the Golden Gecko.