I really never intended to have stuff like this on this site, but something happened recently that I just had to share with you. It’s long so I will do several posts on it to break it up. Just bear with me.
For about a month and a half an owner of a local wrecker company, Bob, contacted me about trying to get a 1991 Mazda MX6 running for a girl that was down on her luck. I am not against helping anyone, but I really did not want to get involved in resurrecting an eighteen year old car. I just think it is a bad idea. The complaint was that the car would not crank with the key, and attempts to ” jump stuff ” had been unsuccessful. After a long conversation I agreed to work on it. There were several failed attempts to have our schedules meet on dropping the car off, I did not hear from him again. I figured I was lucky, and they had decided to not pursue the repair or took it elsewhere.
About five weeks went by, and a girl called up and asked if I would work on her 1991 Mazda MX6 That would no longer crank up. I remembered about Bob calling about the same car and complaint, and I asked if she was the girl that Bob had called for earlier. She said yes and asked if I was still willing to work on the car. I really did not want to do this, but she had a sad story.
She is about 25 years old, single mother of three. Her first born died of cancer three years ago. I was told an agency that helps families with children with cancer was picking up the bill. Sounded little strange after three years but reasonable. She stated that the agency could pay with a credit card number over the phone when the repairs were complete. RED flag, I told her that I will not take a credit card number over the phone, and she would have to arrange for a check or cash. She said she understood and would make arrangements.
The car in question arrived on a Wednesday, and boy what a cream puff. The outside was cleaned up pretty good, but the rest of the car was a mess.
After Bob and I were able to force the car to roll off of the flat bed (under inflated tires and rusted brakes), I started investigating what I had to do. The battery was new but stone dead. I hooked my battery charger up and turned it on. The alarm went off as it should have but the remote was dead. Someone had already removed the siren so only the lights were flashing. I knew that I was not going to work around and eighteen year old aftermarket alarm system so it had to go. No big deal I have taken hundreds of these things off over the years.
I had to lay a fender cover over the mold in the carpet, and wear a face mask to do this though. I can’t afford to get sick.
Anyways I muddled through removing the aftermarket alarm system, and restored the wiring to the factory design. During and after the repair, I was checking out the basics to make sure it was not just a complete waste of time. Oil level was good, antifreeze was okay and everything seemed to be mostly in order. I had to vacuum up a lot of leaves from under the hood. Turns out this car was recently hauled out from under a tree, and had been covered in about three inches of leaves. I was very surprised to see that there was only minor rodent damage.
Back to the repair, I removed the aftermarket alarm system, repaired the wiring, charged the battery and checked the fluids. Time to crank this beast. To my surprise it cranked up and ran. A little noisy at first, but as it warmed up everything came around pretty good. I found an exhaust leak and a few other minor issues, which I later documented on the paperwork.
Bob called to find out the status of the repair late that afternoon. I told him that everything seemed pretty good at that point, and I was going to look it over again the next day.
Thursday came around and I started the vehicle and all was okay. The battery was good, the alternator was charging and no drains. I figured I would call Bob in the afternoon when I was caught up from the rest of my work, and I also wanted to see if there were any leaks under the car. I had parked the car in the back yard overnight, and now I had it on clean concrete.
Before I could call anyone, the girl (Britney) that owned the car showed up with a couple of friends, who stayed in the vehicle they had arrived in. She wanted see what was going on with the car. I was in the middle of doing something, so she goes over to the car and sits in it, no big deal it’s her car. She was getting out of the car as I was coming over to explain everything to her when she said something to the effect of “I thought you had the car fixed. It still does not crank up”. She was very polite in her statement and just seemed a little confused. Being a diagnostician I thought about it for a second, and asked if she had pushed the clutch pedal in. She seemed even more confused, and said “she didn’t think so but should she have”. I explained that with a modern vehicle with a manual transmission, will not start without the clutch pedal pushed in for safety reasons. She seemed to understand, but stated that she did not know how to drive a car with a manual transmission. Well that seems a little odd.
I finished explaining to Britney what I had done, and what needed to be done, as soon as she could afford it. She said great and wanted me to talk to some one at the agency that was helping her, so that the bill could be paid with a credit card over the phone. Whoa Nelly, hold the phone, we already had this conversation. I do not accept credit cards over the phone, and reminded her that she had to make different arrangements. She decided to call the agency anyways while I just stood there waiting. I took the time to look at the vehicle she had come up in and at her friends. I paid attention to the way she was handling herself, and the way she was interacting with her friends during this phone call. This girl is trouble, a she wolf with her pack is what I was thinking. Actually I was thinking worse, but don’t really want to express those feelings as I need to keep this “clean”.
She said that she was sorry for the confusion on her part, and that she could not get in touch with the lady at the the agency. She had left a message, and as soon as she had worked out the details she would be back with a check. I did not hear back from her the rest of the day, and was feeling pretty confident that I would either not see her again or it would be a long time.