When the check engine light blinked its way into my life, we were unable to get a clear code from the now bankrupt/dismantled Daewoo computer system. Any repairs done would be guess work. The car was still putt putting along; save her occasional stalling incidents; so I decided to leave the light. Just as I had grown fond of my little woo woo’s orange warning. I was told that to pass smog I must now address the apparently vague crank sensor and evap codes coming from my computer system. And so I began my journey in search of a Daewoo speaking scan tool.
After numerous KIA dealers, a few of them plugging and receiving the familiar dead end message, I made my way back to my trusted mechanic for more ideas. Patient and wise as he was he suggest I might contact GM who supposedly bought Daewoo out back in 1999. A few hours later I found myself being shooed out of the GMC dealer lot. The manager assured me that GM cars were American made and he had heard nothing of the connection between Daewoo and GMC. Wonder why my uncle (who works for GM makes regular trips to Korea). My next option was to visit the state smog referee in attempts to get a wavier, due to the inability to repair my vehicle; and so began my love affair with the state. The referee enlightened me the wonderful CAP program that offered $500 worth of smog related repairs through state certified (Gold Shield) mechanics. Waivers would only be obtainable through these golden mechanics. A month later as my license plates approached their expiration I began to worry and attempted to contact the State office. I was told that mail in applications were backed up 3 months and submitting my application through a regional office would ensure a two week response. Hmmm… why wasn’t I told this a month ago. “Well ma’me you are dealing with a state agency, what do you expect.”
Weeks later, I marched my fancy acceptance letter down to the local Gold Shield Station and offered up my state money in turn for repairs. A young mechanic seemes to find the illusive codes right away and presents them to his superior. As my hopes began to soar the wrinkly faced man with wirery eyebrows blurts “ I don’t want to work on your car.” “You don’t want… can you say that,” I ask. “Aren’t you bound by the state or something.” “No,” he says. “ I would have to spend a bunch of time diagnosing and looking for obscure parts and I probably wont be able to fix it.”
3 months later, countless phone calls, scan tools, gold shields and referee rejections, I make my way back in search of may waiver. I am again denied “WHAT EXACTLY DO I HAVE TO DO TO QUALIFY FOR THIS WAIVER???” “You must find someone who is willing to fix your car,” states the referee. “But I have,” I say “ I have found tons of people willing to repair my car but they don’t have the tools.” He replies “If you are able to properly diagnose the car and a part is unavailable, then I could give you a waiver.” “But the part to properly diagnose the car is unavailable,” I say. “You have to find someone who is willing to work on it.” He repeats insipidly. “Who is able!” I grumble as I bolt out of the office. Three more Gold Shields, two more referee visits and another month go by and still no results.
With much surprise and disbelieve my father finds a list of certified Daewoo dealers at a GM dealer in detroit. We take it to one such non-gold shield certified dealer. My months of work with the state are now worthless, I must pay out of pocket. I figure this nice clean cut gentleman, with his kids art plastered all over the walls must be an honest guy right? Not so fast! $360 later all I have to show is a new… no USED crank sensor (taken from a car in his back lot) and a persistent engine light. Convinced that I got taken advantage of and determined not to let it happen again, I looked up the price of crank sensors on-line. $35 new from amazon.com, greatly disparaging the $75 use one I recently purchased . So I contact the other GM Daewoo certified dealers on my list to get some info. I start by getting quotes on replacing the crank sensor to see who I can trust. After 4 conversations; none of which were in a comprehendible level of English; I learned that no one is to be trusted. They all tout that they are the only Daewoo mechanics in the city and give initial quotes of $75 and then after consulting with (most likely their greasy conscience) quotes suddenly raise to the $200’s.
Completely exhausted I roll my 4 months past registration woo woo down to my trusted mechanic and tell him, "I have $90 more to spend before they have no choice but to give me the waiver for my efforts. I would rather give the money to you than those crooks. Do me $90 worth of the best guess work you can and I will leave in peace. $90, some gooey patching on my evap system and my old friend the engine light has bid us adieu … for now.
I ask you, oh car talk guys, what did I do wrong that made this journey so long and arduous??