Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Win the Prize!

Just over three years ago, I was in a minor fender bender. I was driving a 1989 Honda Accord that was in surprisingly great condition, and it had extremely low mileage for a 19 year old car. The accident was fairly minor, but because of the age of the car, the damage to three or four big parts caused the car to be totaled. After hunting around for a replacement, I settled on a 2000 Audi A4 Quattro 5 speed. Purchased from a Craigslist ad, I feel like I got a steal of a deal, and I have been enjoying the car ever since.

I replaced the tires immediately, but since then, I have had only a few repairs. Then again, I don’t put that many miles on it each year. In fact, at its three year anniversary, I was just a few miles away from hitting 10,000 miles total since buying the car. Last year, I put about 2,400 miles on it. With the little around town driving I do, I wouldn’t expect to run into many repair problems, and I haven’t.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I noticed a definite acceleration problem that occurred pretty abruptly. I quickly made arrangements to take the car to the shop for diagnosis and repair. The shop I use is nearly 30 minutes away, so it takes some organizing to arrange for the repair, in light of the rest of my schedule. I sat in the shop until Evan diagnosed the problem, which was a faulty fuel injector. While he completed the repair, I walked to the local coffee shop and got some work done. On the way home, my car was humming along just as it had before the fuel injector malfunctioned. Accelerating was no longer a problem, and my smooth ride had returned.

Several days later, I hopped in the car to go to run a quick errand. About two blocks from home, with no warning, the Audi started hesitating and sputtering again, just like before the repair, only much worse. I was able to get my errand done, but when I came out to start the car, after five seconds or so, it just died. I tried several more times, and eventually, I couldn’t even get it to start at all.

I called Evan at the shop and told him I thought something was wrong with the repair he had done. He was apologetic, and suggested that I have it towed in, but he couldn’t look at it until Monday (this was Friday). I thought about having it towed just a mile or two to the local Audi repair shop (which I don’t typically use), instead of having it towed 19 miles to Evan’s shop. But I figured that I ought to take it back to where the work had been done earlier that week, since I had already paid for the repair.

We’re AAA members, so towing was not a problem. However, the repair shop was much farther away than the 3 miles AAA will tow your car for free. So I ended up paying a $51 towing charge. At least they came quickly and I didn’t have to make the drive over to Durham. And since we have two cars (and could honestly make due just fine with one), the only inconvenience was having to wait for the tow truck. The rest of the weekend, I barely remembered that my car wasn’t in the garage.

By mid-morning on Monday, I had not heard from Evan about what the problem was. I had decided to have another repair done at the same time, as well as a state inspection, so I figured he was busy. Eventually, though, I needed to know what happened to the car, and when he might be finished with the repairs. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: Hey Evan, it’s Doug Holden. How are you today?
Evan: Great! How about you?
Me: I’m good. Listen, I was calling to see if you’ve had a chance to find out what was wrong with my Audi.
Evan: I sure did.
Me: So what was the problem?
Evan: Nothing that a little gas in the tank wouldn’t fix…

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