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A change of oil - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
A change of oil
I got my oil changed today. Usually, it's a fairly relaxing experience. I drive through a fast food place (usually Arby's), get a sandwich and a drink, eat it in the 10-minute oil change place, sign a credit card slip, and drive back to work. Takes about an hour with driving and everything.

A few months ago (well, 8 - I don't do this very frequently), I was munching on my beef-and-cheddar, and the Oil Guy asks me to get out of the car. This has never happened before; I always sit in my car while they do their thing. I clumsily struggle out, and he asks me, "Have you noticed how it's been struggling recently?" (He said struggling, or stuttering, straining, some kinda car-adjective, I don't remember exactly.)

I had no idea what he was talking about, but did what everybody does when faced with a mechanic. Nod wisely, "Ohh, yes, I have."

He shows me some hose thing, that's got a huge crack in it. "Here's your problem." He nudges the crack open further, and the car stalls. "You need this replaced."

He tells me they don't have that part, but he can put a temporary similar hose on, until I get the part from an auto shop. He does so, I thank him profusely, and off I go, broken hose in my passenger seat.

Of course I forget about it for ages, but I finally get around to taking the broken hose to my dealer. "I need something that looks exactly like this, only without the hole." He sells me one for an outrageous sum of money, and I put that in the passenger seat along with my broken one. The Oil Guy had shown me what needed to be done, but it was cold and wet out, the car was working just fine with the temporary hose, and for whatever other reason, I just never fixed it. Actually, I forgot all about it.

Well today I finally took my car in for another oil change. As I was casting my mind fondly back on previous oil changes, I remembered: The Hose! I ask the new Oil Guy if he can replace the temporary hose for me, and he politely replies, "I don't see why not." This is good, because I'd been a bit nervous about doing it myself.

I give him both the broken hose and my new one, and gesture vaguely to where I remembered the temp one being. He finds the trouble area quickly, and starts dinking around with the hoses. After some effort, and some assistance from a redheaded guy, he announces that he is finished. I sign the credit card slip, wrap up the remains of my chicken whopper, and drive happily back to work.

Or I start to, that is. As I'm driving, a woman starts honking her horn at me. She is to my right, and gestures for me to roll down my window. This is a real pain for me, because I am The Last Girl On Earth Without Power Windows. On top of this, I'm small, so rolling down my passenger window requires putting the car into park, unfastening my seatbelt, leaning way over, and painfully working the crank while the gearshift digs a hole into my gut. She probably needs directions or something though, so since I'm a nice person, I do it anyway.

She says, "Your car is pouring out smoke, whenever you give it gas! You should put some oil in right away!" I thank her, and she drives away before I can launch into the above saga and tell her that I just got my oil changed.

I look in my rear-view mirror as I step on the gas, and she's right - there's tons of smoke! Holy cow! I immediately turn around and head back to the Oil Change Place, polluting the whole neighborhood as I go.

The Oil Guys are pleased to see me again, until the smoke fills their garage and they have to open all the doors. We all cough for awhile, then I pop the hood. The Oil Guy who put my hose on looks at it, and has no idea what's wrong. He says, "I don't know much about this." I ask, do they have anybody here who does?

He fetches Redheaded Oil Guy, who's apparently the real car expert. He's not that great with the English language, but seems to know his automobiles. After awhile of dinking around, he asks me for the old hose, which I'd kept as a souvenir. I pull it out, hand it to him, and he pulls a little thing off the end, and says to the first Oil Guy, "You'll need this valve."

So they put the valve on, and I restart my car. No smoke! No weird noise! (I hadn't even noticed the weird noise before, what with the radio playing.) I don't trust them anymore though, and I let the car run for awhile. It seems fine, so after a couple minutes I put on my sunglasses, pull on my seatbelt, throw the car into reverse.....and it stalls.

Redheaded Oil Guy looks up from the jeep he's working on, and asks, "Did that car just stall?!" I tell him it happened as soon as I put it into gear. He ditches the jeep and comes back over. I pop the hood again. He dinks around some more and has me start it. As soon as I put it into gear again, it stalls. We repeat this scenario several times.

Finally, after several repetitions, I put the car into reverse and the engine weakens, but doesn't stall. The guy in the jeep's driver seat smiles and says, "It's getting a little better!" I shrug, and agree, then commence to tell him the whole story, for lack of anything better to do. The Jeep Guy gets pretty involved, asking questions, making suggestions, and looking at parts.

Redheaded Oil Guy is pretty stumped, can't get it to run smoothly no matter what he does. So he puts the old hose back on, and it works fine (so long as you don't push at its crack too hard, which makes it stall). Then he tells me it must be the new hose. I explain that it's a duplicate of the old hose, purchased at the dealer's. Jeep Guy asks, "This is a silly question, but did you put the valve on the wrong end?" Redheaded Oil Guy shows Jeep Guy the hose, and explains it can only go on one way. Then he tries putting the new hose on one last time, has me start the car, put it into gear...everything works perfectly.

Weird! Redheaded Oil Guy swears up and down that he put it together exactly the way he'd had it before. Jeep Guy and I shrug our shoulders at one another. I think we both have our suspicions at this point, but I'm just relieved my car is running again. I play with it for a few more minutes, switching gears, gunning the engine, to make sure all's well. When it behaves properly through all that, we all agree it must be okay again.

I thank the various Oil Guys, who apologize for all the trouble, and wave goodbye to all of them. "Bye Jeep Guy!" I call, and he waves too (yes, I actually called him Jeep Guy...I never got his name). I drive off, my car behaves just fine this time, and I pull into the office parking lot two and a half hours after I'd left it. But at least my car's working again.

Although I think I'll have a Real Mechanic look at it soon, just to be sure.....

Current Mood: exhausted exhausted

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Comments
cynnerth From: cynnerth Date: April 17th, 2002 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a story! You kept a great attitude through all of that frustration...I think I might have blown a fuse of my own if I had been in that situation.
hannunvaakuna From: hannunvaakuna Date: April 17th, 2002 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
you're lucky you didn't burn your engine or crack a head or something... doesn't take long if parts aren't put back right ):

i'm biased, of course, but those quicky oil change places scare me. they'll hire any schmoe off the street, and you're trusting them with a large piece of expensive, important machinery. i'll take the time and go across town to a real mechanic anyday (:
renniekins From: renniekins Date: April 18th, 2002 08:16 am (UTC) (Link)
The problem is that most real mechanics (at least the ones worth going to) are very busy - you have to leave your car there for awhile, can't just go in and out like an oil change shop. Leaving my car anywhere is a real pain, because then I have to find somebody who will follow me there and drive me home/work, take me anywhere else I need to go during the downtime, plus take me back when they're through. I hate inconveniencing friends/family/coworkers like that when I can avoid it.

I do need to get a leak in my AC fixed pretty soon anyway, so I'll ask them to look at the hose (if only I knew its name!) when I do that. heehee, the mother of a friend of mine works at a pretty reliable shop. (:

I'll probably tie a ribbon on the hose or something equally dorky, if I don't drop my car off during business hours.... Gotta identify the darn thing somehow!
hannunvaakuna From: hannunvaakuna Date: April 18th, 2002 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
i understand the hassle thing... i usually end up trading cars with my mom. i rue the day that i don't consider my mechanic a friend of the family!

sometimes if you take it to the dealership, they'll use their courtesy service to get you to work or home. i know the Saturn dealership used to do that for me. hell, come to think of it, that was probably the *only* good thing they ever did! *grin*
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: April 18th, 2002 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
All dealership's do it now. Even the independent repair shop here, pays for cab rides to and from, just one of the reasons, they're the top rated repair shop.
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: April 17th, 2002 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Take it to a real mechanic as soon as possible. I only trust the oil change guys to change the oil, oil filter and maybe the air filter but nothing else. Fortunately, the best rated garage in town is right behind the place I take my air for the oil change.
mrdisco99 From: mrdisco99 Date: April 18th, 2002 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)
This is exactly why I change my own oil. It's cheaper, too. However, it does take longer and can be quite messy.

I really think anyone who owns a car should learn as much as they can about how they work, just so they can correct red-headed oil change guy when he puts the hose on the wrong way.

retepsnave From: retepsnave Date: April 18th, 2002 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)
lol.......
great story...... bummer that it had to happen to you..... but glad to hear that it seemed to work out ok-
but definately get it in to a reputable shop right away.... I'll agree with the others-
oil change places are good for oil changes only- all the rest is far too important to potentially mess up-
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