Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The saga of the car again.

I just paid about $70 to have the car tuned up and some minor parts replaced. I wrote about that recently. So I was more than a little upset that the *&^$% thing was running worse than before. I could hardly keep it running until it got really warmed up. Even the smallest hill or speed bump demanded that I shift down to first gear or the car would start bucking like a wild horse or stall out.

I finally had had enough and went online to Altavista/Bablefish and wrote up a note to take to the mechanic. I always do this if I think my Spanish is going to fail me or if I don't know the right terms. I have yet to find the correct translation for "thingee ma bob" but that's another story. My note was very, very polite though. Rudeness or directness gets you nowhere fast down here.

I drove the Honda scooter over to the mechanics and, after the usual formalities, reached into my pocket for my note. He always laughs when I hand him a note. He thinks it is so funny that I can write Spanish but not speak it. I've told him I translate it on the internet but I don't think he understands that. Basically I told him that my car was really, really sick and that I was afraid to drive it to the shop. Could he stop by my house and look at it? No problemo.

Around 6pm that night he arrived at my house by taxi. He has a lot of taxi driver friends since they all come to him for repair work. I backed the car out into the open and popped the hood. As soon as I started the motor he told me to shut it off. He knew what the problem was. Salt.

This time it had invaded those things that plug on over the spark plugs. The metal casing over them was all corroded and some had black spots on them. (I ask myself here, "Self, why did he not notice all this corrosion when he worked on the car the last time?") He then proceeded to literally rip the metal covers off these things and toss them on the ground. Problem solved.

Next he showed me the distributor cap. When I got my face right down by it I could see little sparks firing around it. I assumed that sparks meant something was wrong. I was right. So it seems I need new spark plug covers and a new distributor cap. At this point his friend, the taxi driver, volunteered to go to Cancun the next day and get the parts. So I forked over 600 pesos as a down payment on parts and labor. Mechanic told me to bring the car around the next day at 4pm to have them installed. About a 15 minute job.

The next day I arrived on time, since I am a gringo after all. Roberto, the mechanic, was nowhere to be seen. I did see 8 other cars in various stages of repair and about 12 taxi drivers just milling around. I finally located Roberto under one of the hoods. He said (insert surprised look on my face here) that he was too busy today to install the parts. Fine.

Instead of leaving, I found Chino, the body repair guy that works there and had him look at my dented fender. He said he could pound it out and repaint it for 700 pesos. A lot cheaper than the 2500 peso quote I got in Cancun. I said go ahead then. Now we just have to find a day when I can take the car over when both he and Roberto can work on it.


All is now fine. Chino did the body work on the fender and sanded out a few other rust spots that were starting and repainted. It looks great! It just amazes me the work they can do at that place. Someday I will try to get up the courage to take some pictures. The work shop is incredible. I also got the spark plug covers and distributor cap replaced. Total cost:

Body work: 700 pesos + 100 peso tip = around $80USD. A lot cheaper than the $250 quote I got in Cancun

Engine work: 600 pesos for parts, 100 pesos for labor. About $70USD.

I'm happy, my bank account is happy and my car is happy!

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