Thursday, December 01, 2005

Winterizing The Car

Yesterday I finally took our car (technically my wife's car since her name is on the title and she's the primary driver) in for a radiator flush and two new tires. The radiator flush was just in time since the temperature is forecast to dip below 20 degrees tonight and into single digits early next week. Plus the $49.95 coupon was about to expire, and the regular price was $30 more. The rear tires had plenty of tread but were dry rotted after five years on the car. Notes about the day:
  • I went out for lunch since I hadn't eaten all day and had 2-3 hours to kill. The waiter was adequate but had an unsettling posture that made me feel like I was being stalked or he was plotting a way to kill me in the parking lot.
  • The service guy was supposed to call if I also needed a four-wheel alignment ($69.95 -- ouch, I can remember getting 2-wheel alignments on my first car for only $25). I had my cell phone out on the table in case he called while I was eating. Afterward, I decided I might as well use the bathroom before I went out to run errands. Sure enough, I stepped up to the urinal, unzipped my pants, and the phone rang! Oh well, at least he didn't catch me mid-stream, so to speak.
  • I did need an alignment, which was not surprising. He said I also needed a new battery, which I already knew. I asked what he would charge out of curiosity... $132! Not only wouldn't I put a $90 battery in a car with 110,000+ miles on it, but I wouldn't pay $42 labor for something I've done myself. Indeed, seven winters ago I installed the current battery on a brutally cold night.
  • I did some Christmas and grocery shopping, and then I went back to the repair shop. I had a book to read, of course, so the next hour passed quickly.
  • Along with my bill, they gave me a list of recommended service that I had "declined." Actually, the battery was the only thing they had mentioned on the phone, but the list included a fuel filter, front struts (though ours are only 2-3 years old), and, to my amazement, windshield wiper blades for $26. We put new wipers on the car just 94 hours before I took it in for service! And they weren't cheap wipers, either, about $15 for the pair (since I change them only every few years, I figured I might as well spring for the best).
  • Best of all, I asked for and received the police discount! After all, it is my wife's car. The funny thing is that usually she doesn't ask. I don't know if she thinks it's nervy or presumptuous or whatever, but as far as I'm concerned, a deal is a deal! It saved us about $25.

Now all I have left to do is replace the battery and we should be ready for another winter, knock on wood (with an old car you can't take anything for granted).

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