A fair warning, eventually I am going to open an old thread. This last month was a very unpleasant month due to a tragic death of a young friend here in Mexico. And, I was not at all done with that thread. To open a new thread would be confusing. I don’t want the usual suspects to fall down in a coma when I open it.
And, if I get time, I may also write about my adventures last month which kept me from finishing that thread. Most, though certainly not all, had to do with cars or driving places.
While back in Texas for a few weeks, I was digging through an old filing cabinet, looking for an old personal diary trying to find out the exact date in 1965 that my Army buddy from Far Rockaway Beach and I sprinted up Mt. Rainier to the south side of the summit area, and back down before dark. I found a print-out of a letter I sent to a radiator shop who had treated me badly, but still have not found that diary.
It was in 1997 and I was sometimes driving my 1986 Pontiac Parisienne (sp) into the Rio Grande Valley to visit our daughter, who still teaches there today. It was overheating badly down there. Yes, the radiator showed signs of corrosion and I felt it should be replaced. But, at the same time I felt it might be a good idea to go to a heavy duty radiator and up the percentage of antifreeze. The jugs at the auto store all indicated one could get more heat resistance if you went over 50%, which was a dramatic change. For a few dollars extra, I felt it would be able to tolerate more heat conditions. It is called, IMO, valid owner option if the owner wishes to pay the extra amount involved.
Not knowing a difference in radiator shops, I found one in the Yellow Pages and drove there. When I told him what I wanted, he started shouting at me in a very loud and angry and belligerent manner. I did not need a heavy duty radiator; a standard radiator would keep my car cool to 130 degrees. Also, it was not possible to use more than 50% antifreeze, thus proving he was not aware of new formulations.
He finally agreed to install a heavy duty radiator, and I realized once I got the car back, I could drain some coolant and add more basic antifreeze to increase the boiling point. Once he called and said the work was done, I went and got the car. But, suspicious, I checked and the number on the radiator indicated it was not heavy duty, but standard duty.
I went to another shop and had them install the heavy duty radiator I wanted and was willing to pay for.
Then I wrote him the letter, letting him know I knew what he had done to me. I told him if he didn’t want a job, he could always refuse it. But, if he accepted a job, under our state law, he was supposed to comply with customer’s specifications, if no laws or safety rules were broken. Or, as I said, tell the customer right out he did not wish to do the job for him.
So, why did I have him do the job after his angry and belligerent screaming at me? Well, since I was 18 a majority of the times I went to a mechanic, they screamed angrily at even the most polite comment or question. I figured it was just part of being a mechanic and one had no real choice.
As an example, another time, a few years earlier, I had a late 70’s, also a Pontiac 9 pass wagon, which did not get a lot of miles on it. Something went wrong with the right rear brakes, so I took it to a brake shop located at the corner of our factory parking lot, which meant an easy drop off and pick up. He told me the right brakes were worn out, but both wheels had to be re-done to make ti safe. So, of course, I agreed.
Less than a year later, that same brake went back. when I took it back, I asked him why it failed so soon. He started screaming at me, that he couldn’t guarantee a car’s brakes forever. So, I had him do the brakes again, both sides to make the car safe, etc.
About a year later, and not too many miles, the right rear brake went bad again. This time I decided to take it to the Cadillac dealer. They actually had a reputation for really good diagnostics.
Shortly after I got to work, they called me and told me the right rear wheel cylinder was frozen. Just as obviously it was both times that brake shop worked on it.
No, I did not expect him to guarantee brakes forever. But, i did expect him to fix it properly.
The radiator guy actually did me a favor. He forced me to face the reality that every time a mechanic shouted angrily at me, he was in the end either incompetent or dishonest, or usually both. I no longer tolerate ANYONE I am paying for a service to shout at me angrily.
The best mechanic I ever had work on my cars was also the most polite, by far.