From time to time, all cars have a breakdown of some sort. Sometimes it’s that little yellow engine light that comes on, suggesting that something terrible is happening, only to find out that the gas cap wasn’t put back on properly.
Other times, it’s an amber prophecy of dire things to come…usually on the side of the road…at a time when it’s the most inconvenient thing to happen…and it’s raining…and you’re late.
It’s so much worse with cars when the problem isn’t so much with the vehicle itself, but with the people working on them.
Something like this just happened to my car. If this didn’t actually happen to me, I wouldn’t have believed it. I am not making any of this up…I have witnesses!
About 3 weeks ago, I noticed a burned out headlight. Simple enough to replace, and light bulbs aren’t too expensive. I did a little web search on how to change the bulb in my vehicle, which was really no help.
I decided I’d try it anyway, and if I ran into trouble, I’d bring it in to my local dealer to get it fixed. I picked out some fancy new ‘high intensity’ bulbs, so I could see better in these cold dark winter nights.
Replacing the bulb was pretty simple, but it was -26 degrees outside, and bare skin on cold metal isn’t fun.
I decided to swap out both bulbs, since if one went, it would just be a matter of time before the second one would go, and I wanted them to match. Esthetics are very important to me, you know.
A couple of days later, my Son noted that my headlight was out. What? I just changed it!
I pulled it back into the entrance of my crowded garage, and opened the hood again. When I touched the connection cable for the light, it came back on. Aha!
The light would turn on and off intermittently, so I knew I needed to get it in to the shop. There was something more going on here.
The dealership immediately suggested that it was a bad bulb. No, I said. I just changed the bulb, and the connection was loose.
They, being much smarter in the way of light bulbs than I, concluded that it was indeed a bad bulb, and charged me about $300 to fix it and do a couple additional ‘maintenance’ things while they had the keys.
Fine. Sure enough, the next day, the light was out again. Now I was getting a bit frustrated. I called them up and explained the problem.
Must be another bad bulb, they quickly surmised.
“No, I’m pretty darn sure it isn’t the bulb. It must be an electrical connection problem.”
Without arguing the point, I booked it back into the dealership.
After another full day of my vehicle being in the shop, they called and said that after an exhaustive investigation, it turns out that the bulb was good, and that there was indeed an electrical problem. Halleluiah!
Unfortunately, they went on to say, they had to order in a brand new headlight assembly, but it would be here Tuesday, as if that was a good thing.
Fine! I said I’d come and get it, so I had something to drive until Tuesday.
“We’re closing in 10 minutes”.
I live about 25 minutes away from the dealership, so I had to wait until the next day to go back and get it.
They said they’d call me on Tuesday when the part came in.
Tuesday came and went. No call. So did Wednesday. No call, no headlight.
On Thursday, I called them. The part had just arrived. I booked the car back in for Friday to get it replaced. They told me it would only take an hour, so I could just wait for it there.
Here are the sequence of events that unfolded over the next 36 hours:
Friday Morning – Headlight Repair. Take III:
8:29 am: Arrive at dealership
8:35 am: Notified by service adviser of 2 minor recalls on vehicle
8:37 am: Approved of additional work – asked for ride home since it would now take a few hours with the extra work
8:37 am: Advised that shuttle driver would take me home in 15 minutes
9:26 am: Asked service adviser where shuttle driver is
9:31am: Shuttle driver loaded me into his vehicle
2:04 pm: Called dealership on status of vehicle
2:07 pm: Car was ready. Will send shuttle driver right away
3:07 pm: Called back dealership. No shuttle driver in sight
3:16 pm: After long hold with bad music, adviser tells me that they broke a fuel line part and the car won’t be ready. Maybe Tuesday.
3:17 pm: Swear under my breath.
3:17 pm: Adviser offers a rental car for me
3:40 pm: Shuttle driver arrives. Doesn’t know where rental place is
4:01 pm: Arrive at rental place thanks to the maps app on my phone
4:18 pm: Handed keys to smallest car on the lot. Summer tires.
4:20 pm: Rental has no gas in it. Rental office is closed for the night
4:21pm: Swear under my breath. Drive shoebox with wheels to nearest gas station
10:31 am: Urgent message on my cell phone from dealership to call them
11:04 am: Called back dealership. On hold for 5 minutes. Bad music
11:09 am: Service manager picks up and explains that an ‘incident’ occurred with my vehicle
11:10 am: Told service manager that I knew about the broken fuel line thing.
11:12 am: Service manager explains that something else happened. There was open fuel and someone started my vehicle. There was a fire.
11:17 am: I regained consciousness and asked for explanation
11:19 am: Service Manager said they got the fire out and it only caused about $4,000 in damage to my vehicle
11:20 am: Service Manager asked me to attend the scene of the fire
11:35 am: Drive over-sized skateboard rental car to dealership
11:45 am: Service Manager took me around back where partially burned out vehicle was sitting
12:00 pm: Service Manager informed me that they were very sorry and put a rush on the new parts
12:01 pm: Reminded Service Manager that the only thing wrong with the vehicle was a burned out headlight. Now I have a burned out vehicle
12:05 pm: Service Manager assured that the parts would be in on Tuesday