Biscuit and a wash, please

Published 11:36 am Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It was Mechanics 1, McDonald’s 0 this week – and I’m not talking World Cup soccer here.

I own a high-mileage Saturn Ion that’s had a great run these past eight years. But, as dad and many others say, ‘When it starts to nickel-and-dime ya…” You get the picture.

The thought of a car note after a few years of not having one is scary, so I trust my chosen mechanic shop to keep me straight. This includes staying on top of engine temperatures in this summer heat. My compatriot in weekday column-writing around here had his issues last week; I guess I was due.

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A recent weekend morning brought me to McDonald’s for a breakfast biscuit, this just a few days after hearing my coolant light was merely a sensor problem. Computers, who needs ‘em, right? Instead of getting the price of my combo meal, I heard “Whoa, I think you have a coolant leak.” My body shifted to the sympathetic nervous system, which in school we learn is what the body does in stressful situations, once I caught a whiff of something that indeed smelled like someone was toasting some breakfast of their own beneath my car. All this while my instrument panel showed an engine temperature slightly below 220, normal for this time of year.

Yesterday, my trusty mechanic soothed my fears. An o-ring gasket on my radiator cap had worn down to nothing and, I suppose, produced the aroma that had me doing the mathematics of car-buying in my head. A $13 radiator cap later, I’m breathing easier. I suppose the girls at the window will now be told not to give any automotive advice to drive-thru customers. No worries, really. It shows they’re human, too.

It also got me to feeling quite appreciative of the folks that take care my car, in light of a recent survey. A study by industry research firm Carlisle and Company released in June looked at 9,000 service technicians rom 15 major auto brands and found 43 percent of the work orders received required a chat with a service advisor due to a lack of clarity.

Granted, that’s mostly about car dealerships and my guys are at an independent repair shop. But, it begged some thanks when I walked out in about an hour with answers and a clear head.

As the credit card commercial says, “Priceless.”