Car Repair Horror Stories

June 27, 2010

Everyone has had one - a car repair horror story. The failed fuel pump that causes you to be late to the family reunion and the minor repair that turns into a budget busting car expense from hell are examples.

My own experience, which I often recall when travelers seem entirely too upset over what’s happening to their vehicle, involved the start of the family vacation at the beach. This particular summer setting has only one way in and one way out and needless to say the traffic was horrendous on that Saturday morning in August.

As I had always done, the vehicle was treated to an oil change and pre-trip check prior to embarking. What I hadn’t planned on was that the traffic would be crawling for two hours in temperatures approaching 100 degrees. Eventually the transmission overheated and blew out fluid through though the fill pipe. As horror stories go this one was G rated, since the remedy was some time on the shoulder of the road to cool down and replenishing the fluid when we got to our destination.

My friend Gene was not so lucky. He remembers a trip to the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, when he recognized that he had a water pump problem by the rattling noise and seepage of coolant just on the other side of the radiator. He found himself and his family miles from any commercial area that might offer a competitive market place rather than a remote outpost where the laws of supply and demand would be the prevailing economic principal.

He rolled into a repair shop and anxiously asked if the gentleman had a water pump. The man answered “Yup”. Gene asked how much the job would cost anticipating that at that time the job was worth about $40. His savior said “$200”. Gene protested but the mechanic had a very succinct explanation. “Look son this is how it works. You need a water pump, but you don’t have one. I have one and the price is $200.”

These stories stay with you a long time as you can tell by the prices involved in this account. Sometimes they are tinged with humor or the remarkable kindness of complete strangers. They always add to the folklore of the road and the experience of travel. They tend to be a snapshot of the way we were at particular time in our lives, which was the case with Gene.

He became a martial arts instructor and someone I would not have thought would have endured this quietly.  He said he did because he recognized the difficult situation in which he found himself and his family.

How about you, are there any auto repair horror stories you would like to share or are those experiences something you would rather forget?  
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