I drive a 2006 Hyundai Elantra. A few hours ago, I had pulled into the parking lot of my apartment building and had been there for a minute or two when I got out and some random guy walking down the sidewalk is yelling at me to get my attention. By his appearance from a distance and the kind of “mushmouth” way that he talked, my first thought that he was homeless and was going to ask for money (this happens a lot where I live). Nope.
He said that he was a mechanic and had seen sparks coming out from under my car while I was driving. He introduces himself, has me turn the wheels all the way to the right and shows me some loose thing on one of the (I wanna say diagonal) bars connecting the front-driver’s side wheel to the tire. He had me turn the wheels the other way and showed me how it wasn’t that way on the passenger’s side. Said it had something to do with the ball bearings or something, and maybe that it could be dangerous. Definitely said more than once that it had come loose from running over bumps like potholes and railroad tracks.
He had me lay my floor mats on the ground next to the front-left wheel so he didn’t get his clothes dirty (so maybe not homeless), had me cut the wheels to the right again, laid down on the mats and reached up past the wheel and hand-tightened the loose thing. He then had me drive it around the parking lot and see if anything felt different when I steered.
It definitely felt different. Steering felt “tighter,” to use the racing term. He wanted $40 and a ride to a barber shop about a mile away and I gave them to him.
What was wrong, exactly? Do I need to follow up with a mechanic? Was $40 a good price for what he did?
Weirdness bonus: He said that he worked for a Toyota dealership in another town nearby. When I got back to work I went to Google and there is no Toyota dealership there. On the other hand, he was sort of hard to understand and might have said something else.