Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Autos and Fine Print

I took my car into the shop the other day, and the auto mechanic asked me to sign a form so he could do the work. The form had what the problem probably was (handwritten by the mechanic), and I stopped to read the fine print.

And I asked a few questions about the fine print. Basically, people don't want you to read the fine print. Do it anyway. Read it sometimes. It will cause you to ball up, cry and not get your car fixed.

Basically the fine print says that the estimate may be more expensive due to unforeseen events, that if they screw something up, you have to pay them to fix it, and if they fix something and you end up careening into a busload of nuns returning from sabbatical, they are not responsible for the malfunctions they caused. Well, I signed it anyway, partly because I am Catholic, and the nuns I know would not sue a good Catholic girl, and partly because I needed to get my car fixed.

When I was in college, I learned about cars. There was some free weekend classes at the university (tip: call it "the Uni" and people will think you went to college in Europe) where they trained mostly young women about how to take care of cars. I learned how to change the oil, gap the spark plugs, and do various other things that I have since forgotten. The one thing I could not do was change a tire.

Not many of us could change a tire – the tires are a bit on the heavy side, and I could not convince myself that using the jack would not result in my poking a whole into the frame of the car. Anyway, I remember one woman in the class joking that her legs could get the tire changed. And you know, I have had two flat tires on the road and both times they were changed by men stopping to help me in my moment of need. And I did not even need a short skirt – men in Georgia are extremely helpful and chivalrous.

That sort of pisses me off, though, is that I learned how to work on cars – at least how they work, and then they started to put computer chips in cars. Now I know crap about cars.

My point is not that I once knew a little bit about cars – seriously, all I wanted to know was how to make sure the auto mechanic was not taking advantage of me. My point is that sometimes you just have to trust. Read the fine print. Know you are signing your rights away, but do that anyway. Just trust sometimes. In spite of the fine print.


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about cars, why do Nuns go on sabatical?

My first car was a 1980 Ford pickup. I could LITERALLY climb in the engine compartment and do work. I learned how to change oir change spark plugs ( and gap them ) air filters, etc. All normal maintenance. I even learned to change the timing with a timing gun. Trust me, not that hard if ...

If you can get to the parts. Cars are so small and compact now I can't even change my own oil anymore. Unless the heighth of my body when laying flat shrinks to 6 inches, there's no way I can change the oil without an oil pit.

You're so lucky you have good legs ...


P.S. I bought a jack at Wal-Mart for $14. Best investment I have ever made for tire changing.

Ian Lidster said...

I agree with Edge. With my earlier cars I too could virtually walk around under the hood. I could also pull an engine, do a valve and ring job and set the carburettor with no problem. With my current car, love it as I do, I don't dare do anything in that jam-packed compartment under the hood. It's an alien space.

PS. Kudos to the chivalrous men of Georgia who helped you out even sans short skirt. Commendable indeed. See, men are only pigs part of the time.

Prata said...

You know...I spent like 2 minutes on this "Wheat sor of pisses me off though,..." paragraph. I was like...why would wheat piss you off? lol I'm stupid or something. =-/

Adding computer components to cars has made them more difficult to work on, but easier to diagnose problems if you just do a little of reading. I swear.

What I don't like is how they have packed so much shit into engine bays now. It's impossible to work on anything without specialized tools. Kind of sucks.

I always help men or women that have flat tires.

~Deb said...

I once thought about taking a mechanic's class just so I wouldn't get screwed as a woman.... It happens.

Jason h said...

Hey! i'm going to cali this sunday.. gonna be there for a week, this is the site i was talking about where i made the extra cash. later!

Bock the Robber said...

It isn't always women. I had a friend who thought you just threw the wheel away if you got a flat. And he had terrible legs.

Pyth0s said...

Always loved cars always will. My first car was a 77 Triumph TR-7 and if any car needs constant work it's that one, worth it because the amount of chicks that wanted to hop in with me was worth the elbow grease every week.

I now own one of these electronic 2007 "I drive myself around" alien cars, but oddly enough, you can goto your local car store and purchase a kewl new little digital PDA unit that plugs into your car via a simple connector that will litterally tell you what the problem with your car is. It does come in handy as I always tell my mechanic "Hey! It told me it was only the "blah blah" that needs fixing, why are you adding all this crap as well" and then they must do some fancy footwork to explain the extra crap usually.

They aren't expensive at all (Few 100$) but worth every penny considering how expensive mechanics can be.

My 1 penny worth!

kathi said...

I'd love to either know more about cars, or know a mechanic better. :)

RWA said...

It is amazing how much they are not responsible for, isn't it?

But, at least you had some fine Southern gentlemen to assist in your times of roadside distress.

Leesa said...

edge: nuns and priests go on all sorts of neat trips. Doesn't make up for the "no sex" rules, but it is pretty neat.

ian: most men are not pigs; just a few give the rest a bad name.

prata: I think my computer actually did an automatic spell check on that word (wheat). I don't frequently use wheat in polite conversation.

~deb: it just takes a smarter mechanic to screw you when you know a little.

jason: thanks for the spam.

bock: well, if he had better legs, perhaps someone would have helped with the wheel.

pyth0s: I never know a regular person could buy something to plug into your car to ensure that the mechanic wasn't making stuff up.

kathi: yeah, hose yourself all, talking about sweaty mechanics with strong hands and . . . on second thought, hose me off.

rwa: I blame the fine print on lawyers and difficult customers.