I am the proud owner of a 1998 Toyota Corolla. I became the proud owner sometime in 2002 when my parents sold me their car to save me the hassle of dealing with a used car lot and used car salesmen. I was in need of my first car and they wanted me to have something reliable and they wanted me to know where the car had been. They sold me the Corolla with a mere 30,000 miles and moved up to a Camry. My car is now at 96,000 miles and has served me incredibly well over the past few years. I love it because it gets great gas mileage and I never have to do anything with it. I just start it up and it goes. Or at least that was the case until a few months ago, when I started having to replace things. It’s inevitable to replace things here and there, especially when the car hits that triumphant 100,000 mile mark. My fiance does most of the work himself whether he wants to or not because I HATE mechanics and auto-related businesses of any kind. It’s like they lay in wait for the women so they have someone to pick on. Thankfully I don’t have to deal with much, but when I do, I’ll chronicle it here.
I decided to write this all down because of the most recent and strangest thing that has happened to my car. I had to replace the front brakes. Not unusual? Well it is considering ‘d just replaced them not three years previous. I was driving around one day when I heard a soul deadening grinding coming from underneath the car. Either I ran over a steel cat or something was going wrong with the brakes. However, knowing I’d just replaced the brakes not that long ago and that I am a bit of a car hypochondriac, I was tempted to let it go. But you really can’t let it go when you suspect brakes, can you? My fiance suggested it was possible one of the pads just went bad too soon. So to save him a weekend of finding the problem so that he’d only have to spend a weekend fixing it, I decided to take it to Midas for a free brake check, to see which one was going bad. I left the car in their hands and went over to the Costco. When they finally called me I was absolutely stunned when I heard I had no left brake at all. I really expected to hear the car was fine and I was crazy. You know, like I usually hear. After they explained what was wrong and I said I wanted to take the car home to decide what to do with it, they copped a major attitude. This also stunned me. They were apparently waiting, perched at the car, power tools in hand, waiting for my approval, and expecting to get it since I am, of course, just a woman. The phrase “I’m not trying to hold your car hostage” was at one point uttered. It seems to me the only reason to clarify that you’re not doing something is because you are in fact doing that same thing. I eventually wrestled my car away from them and bought from a Toyota website brakes and a new left rotor, because as Midas had told me, mine was scratched.
Midas lied. And had I let them do the work on my car I would have had the EXACT same problem a few month down the line. NEVER, EVER trust these people. The Jiffy Lubes, the Midases, the Sears, or any of these get your car in and out places. Follow my link the the Car Talk website, click on the Mechan X-Files link, and find yourself someone trustworthy to work on your car. For the uninitiated, cars have two brake pads per wheel. When Shaun took apart my car, he found that just one of the pair of pads had worn down completely, which is unusual. The pad that wore down, incidentally, was on the right side, not the left. C’mon people, we’re not in England. These are left hand drives. The one pad being worn down indicated uneven wear, which indicated a bigger problem. Shaun thought perhaps the caliper was stuck, but came to find that wasn’t exactly the problem. He found no scratching or anything that would cause me to have to replace the rotor. When I took it to the people I trusted, they said in the short time I’d driven with the new pads, they could just start to see uneven wear. They said it could be one of two things, the second thing being extremely unusual. So they replaced the calipers which weren’t sticking but otherwise not functioning properly and sent me on my way. Listen up – this is important – they did not state that this would fix the problem. They said it was the most likely thing given the information they and I had gathered, and they politely offered the service after explaining to me in detail what had happened and why the suspected what they did. They answered my questions without any sarcasm or sighs. They allowed me to make an informed decision without at any time trying to “hold my car hostage.” It’s possible they’re wrong and I’ll be back for another brake service in a while, but I doubt it. Finally, they never uttered a word about the rotors. I had to send back the nearly $80 item at my $11 expense and I might be charged a restocking fee. If I’d let Midas do the work without investigating further, I would have been out a couple hundred bucks and in a couple of months I would have had to do the same thing all over again. I hope we’ve all learned our lesson.
To see the other things that have gone wrong with my car, see entry entitled “THE LIST.”
Until next time, which I hope is a very long time, although the suspension has me thinking otherwise….