Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When Your Brakes Break

I had to get the brakes fixed on my car today. Ordinarily, when the brakes start to go, it happens so gradually that I’m not even aware they’re getting bad at first. Then, one day, I realize I’m employing the Fred Flintstone method of stopping. It’s really not the best idea to put your foot through the floor in order to stop though, so I take the first step in getting my brakes repaired – I think about doing it. This step can last weeks. But when my car, angry that I haven’t taken it to a mechanic yet, rebels and starts making that metal grinding against metal sound, I figure it’s time to actually take it in to a mechanic. At least sometime in the next few weeks.

This time, however, I skipped the whole Fred Flintstone stage and went directly to the metal grinding stage overnight. In the matter of a couple miles, my attitude went from, Hmmm, I think my brakes are sounding bad, to Oh my gosh, I won’t be able to stop and I’m gonna crash and die!

So I took my car to the shop today. I was thankful that my brakes were consistently making that horrid metal grinding noise. Not because I like that sound or anything, but so I wouldn’t have to explain a mysterious non-existent noise because everyone knows the mysterious sound disappears the minute you take your vehicle to the mechanic.

“Well, ma’am, we drove it around, but didn’t hear any noise.”

“It was making a noise! I swear! It went like this Eeeeahhhscreeeeeahhhhshwooshwoosh! Honest. It did. Ahem.”

So, the guy drove my van around, then put it on the stick thingy that raises it up in the air and did important stuff like count the tires, point to miscellaneous parts under the van, and write a list of all the things wrong with my car. When he was finished, he presented me with his estimate.

Here’s the thing though, average folks (especially women) have no clue what the mechanic is talking about. A mechanic could tell me anything and I’d have no choice but to take his word for it. I’m convinced they make up stuff just to mess with customers. I bet they make wagers with each other on whether the clueless customer will believe them and agree to the repairs.

“Yes, ma’am, the halogen fluid in the headlights is low, it needs new muffler bearings, the spare transmission isn’t working, the anti-lock brakes won’t unlock, and the flux capacitor isn’t fluxing. These are definite safety issues and you should get them fixed immediately. It’ll cost you $3400.”

I like being able to stop my van without running into buildings so I told them to go ahead and fix my brakes. After paying them an amount so obscene I think I’ll have to move into my van to live, I took my keys and headed toward my car. Before I left, the mechanic had these parting words, “The brakes need a breaking in period for about two weeks so don’t floor it to the red lights and then slam on the brakes, okay.”

Darn! Now I have to wait two weeks before I can play pole position while weaving in and out of traffic and slamming on my brakes frequently while running the car pool in my “church van”.

1 comment:

DaddyO said...

Hi Dawn,

Don't worry about not understanding the mechanic. Most guys don't either, they just pretend!! By the way, back in January, in the middle of a snow storm, as I was giving a ride home to a couple of strangers who were stranded in the snow, my breaks went totally out. The snow was actually helping slowing down. It took me 2hrs to go the 12 miles and they were very greatful. In retrospect I don't know if I'd do that again. 1-taking two absolute strangers in my car and 2-driving in the snow without any breaks.
Love your blog!

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