My car now has Zip and Pep. Possibly even Verve.
Or at least as much as a 10-year-old Pontiac Vibe can have of those things.
We’ve been taking our cars to the same mechanics since the mid-90s. When you find people you trust, you stick with them. Dave owns the place, and he’s the sort of guy who will ask you “How much does that really bother you? Because I can fix it for $300, or you can just live with it with no harm done for the next five years until it becomes part of something else that would need to be replaced anyway.” I appreciate that kind of honesty, and I go out of my way to make sure that what needs to happen happens at his place. This is why, for example, about a dozen years ago, I found myself cruising through town at about 15 mph so I could get from the place that said they could fix my transmission to Dave’s place. Dave wasn’t going to try to fix it, but he did say he could replace it for about the same cost and that was enough for me.
Especially since the other guy was not nearly as trustworthy. I suspect Dave had a few words with him, as he did not charge me for the second visit when I went to pick up the car and take it to Dave’s. I’d already paid him enough for two visits by then anyway, and all of us knew it.
So we go to Dave’s.
They also do oil changes there on a drop-in basis, and I find that a useful time to ask questions. A couple of weeks ago, while the oil drained into whatever bucket they have for it down below the rack, I asked Dave, “That’s a 10-year-old car with 145,000 miles on it. What should I have had done to it by now?”
“Have you done this?”
“How about that?
“Yeah, that we got covered.”
“Good. How about that?”
And after a few rounds of this we came up with a list of maybe half a dozen projects that would come to somewhere around $600. When you think about that, that’s not a bad deal. It’s a really great little car – reliable, efficient (I still get 27-30 mpg for city driving out of it), mostly still in good shape (there are a few things that failed the “how much does that bother you?” test that we just live with) – and I really don’t want to replace it anytime soon, especially with two kids headed off to college in the next four years. I have better uses for my money.
I brought it in yesterday and the other Dave who works there (yes, there are two – fortunately they don’t look or sound alike, so it’s easy to keep them straight) took care of it. He didn’t get to all of the original list, because it turned out that the front brakes were about to go and I said to go ahead and replace them now. We’ll address the rest of the list after the next pay cycle, perhaps. But my beloved Vibe is now tuned, belted, and ready to roll.
I can actually tell the difference.
It’s kind of nice that way. It’s good to have something turn out well in a world where so many things seem to be falling apart. There’s a lesson there, perhaps.