A lady in her late seventies or early eighties drove in the shop at quarter before five yesterday afternoon. She honked, although I was on my way toward her car from the back. I excused her on account of the couple of decades she had on me.
“Hi, can I help you?”
“A neighbor of mine told me I should get my car fixed here. They were real happy with your work.”
All well and good so far, but then it got pretty funny.
“I went to the dealer instead, because I was having starting problems. They said they replaced the starter; but it says on the invoice they replaced the starter assembly. Why didn’t they replace the starter?”
“Uh…” I was groping for words; because in the space of a minute, I’d went from being the recommended shop to being aced out by the dealer, and then enlisted as the dealer complaint department. I felt like Johnny Five, the robot in ‘Short Circuit’: need more input. “Do… you have your invoice, Ma’am?”
“Here,” she shoved the invoice out her window with flare. “See, they replaced the assembly. What does that mean?”
I scanned the invoice quickly. “They did replace your starter. It says rebuilt starter right here in the parts section, Ma’am.”
I point to the part, and she clucks at me.
“Well then why does it say assembly?”
“It just means they’re not replacing one piece of the starter. They replaced the whole starter assembly.”
“They charged me a lot of money.”
I’m beginning to understand why. I’ve already lost fifteen minutes I’ll never get back. “I don’t know Ma’am, but they did replace your starter. Is the car starting okay now?”
“Yes, but ever since they did the work, my brake light flashes.”
I look at her dash, and the brake light was not flashing. She sees my confusion, and plays with the handle of her parking brake next to her.
“It flashes like my park brake’s on, but it’s not. I know it’s not on right now, but it flashes while I’m driving.”
Ahhhhhhh… input. This vehicle has a brake master cylinder with a fluid level sensor. When the fluid drops to the minimum level, the dash light will flash, warning the driver to check the level.
“I believe your brake fluid level may be down. Believe me though, the dealer replacing your starter has nothing to do with it.”
“But it never did it before they worked on it.”
“Possibly, but the fluid level may have dropped slightly since your work was done. What they did had no commonality with your brake fluid level sensor.”
“So… you’re saying it’s a coincidence?” She asks doubtfully.
Yesssssssssss!!!! My mind screams, but because I’ll be twenty years older one day, God willing, I answer with much quieter tone.
“Yes, Ma’am, and if you’ll let me pop your hood, I’ll check the brake fluid level.”
“Why didn’t they check it?” She asks while I open her door and pop the hood. “They charged me a lot of money.”
“It’s possible they did; but as I mentioned, your problem had to do with the starter, not the brakes.” I check the fluid level, and as I suspected, it’s down. I hurry to the back, get my brake fluid bottle, and fill the lady’s master cylinder to proper level. I close the hood, and the car is fixed in seconds. Conversation time costly; but blog material: priceless.
“There you are,” I tell her. “The light should stay off now.”
“I didn’t authorize you to put fluid in. How much is it?”
“It’s on the house, Ma’am,” I tell her, and then I lie. “It’s no big deal.”
“Oh… okay then,” she smiles, and starts her car.
I watch her leave my shop, and then it hit me. I just got served by a woman two decades my senior. It gives me hope for my later years. :)