I love mechanics, or at least, I love my mechanic. We've gone to him for almost 20 years. We feel pretty good about our cars because we have a trusted mechanic. Are there any sweeter words in the whole Webster's Dictionary than those? And because we trust our mechanic, whose name is Michael, we are willing to bother him with all sorts of little rattles and noises.
Last week, we had a big rattle, a loud "pop" sound, followed by some kind of smoke or steam coming from the engine block and then the engine simply died. We have 160k miles on our 97 Camry. Any guesses as to what it was? I'll tell you a little later. Although, I'll have to say, I was very proud of myself for guessing what was wrong. Unfortunately, I just didn't take the right steps before the engine gave out. But there we were, with a dead car at 7:00 pm. Our trusted mechanic told us to tow the car in that night and he'd have a look at it first thing in the morning. What a guy, our hero!
Sure enough, we received the phone call from Michael. He told us what was wrong and even gave us a little discount on the service because we've been such loyal customers. I thought a 5-10% discount was more than gracious considering the bill was going to be close to 4 figures. He promised our car would be ready by 5:00 and it was. We picked it up and it purred like a kitten. Our little "panda express" as we like to call it (for really no good reason), was back in action. Ready for another 160k miles (we hope).
Well, as many savvy mechanics have probably figured out by now, it was our timing chain that went belly-up. The water pump is what caused all the dominos to start falling though. Now you know why it was so expensive, relatively speaking. We had feared the worst because I had a little Sentra that broke a timing chain while I was backing it up. Two bent valves and I think about $1500 later, I had that little rice rocket back on the road. Thank goodness for non-interference engines, I think that's what Michael called it anyway. Apparently, it saves the valves, pistons or whatever from getting damaged when the timing chain blows.
Okay, so we've established how much my family appreciates our mechanic, Michael. We've also established how great it is to have someone you can trust in a vital field like automotive repair. Let me speak as a trusted professional myself to all the mechanics in the world, (I happen to be a respiratory therapist). You are at risk for lung and heart disease. Why you ask. Let me tell you. Most blue collar workers, like automotive repairmen and women, smoke. Many at Michael's shop smoke, which is really too bad.
Smoking is a habit found in people who work very hard for a living. Many of my patients were blue collar folks, like farmers, construction workers, truck drivers and yes, mechanics. So please let me turn you all a good favor like my mechanic turned me. Please stop smoking. I know you've thought about it, probably on more than one occasion. For whatever reason, you chose to keep smoking.
Don't do to yourself what I did to my car. I should have taken the right steps and towed it before the timing chain completely fell apart. You have the opportunity to take the right steps now. There are so many benefits to quitting and you all are totally worth it. So please take my trusted advice and throw them away. You'll thank me for it later.