To kick off Labor Day weekend (aka the END OF SUMMER AS WE KNOW IT up in the Finger Lakes) Michael and I had a lovely dinner chez Crooker, where we enjoyed a nice meal on Cayuga Lake, before laughing hysterically for 90 minutes at a production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It was a great way to start the holiday weekend.
Saturday morning we were running errands and heard an awful vibrating crunching noise when putting the car in reverse. Bad for backing out of parking spaces, fine for driving forward. A quick stop into Sears Auto Center taught us that writing a problem down on the chart does not mean the 'tech' will even check into it, will lie about checking into it, and upon finally listening to the problem, will declare that it's probably a transmission problem, but they "don't do trannies"and suggested we stop by the local Mazda dealership. The nearest Mazda dealership is more than an hour away, but luckily other dealers can often handle these issues. There are non-Mazda dealerships in Ithaca, so this is not looking so bad. Unfortunately, nothing car-related (except Sears) is open in Ithaca on the weekend. Not even the sales department. Want to buy a car in Ithaca? Sorry, folks. Only Monday through Friday, till 5 PM. Wow. That's a great way to make monthly numbers.
This being Labor Day weekend also meant that a Monday visit was not going to happen. I work 8-4:30 during the week, and we only have one car. Could get tricky. Since were were going to New Jersey on Friday for Marissa's graduation, we could likely swing by a dealership there, since they have more convenient hours, and could likely diagnose and hopefully fix the problem. It was a good plan.
Friday morning we learned that the NJ Mazda didn't do 'that kind of work' on the weekend and we'd have to leave it there till at least Monday. Not good, since we need to be in Ithaca Sunday afternoon. We also located a specialized transmission shop on the same road. Worth a shot, right?
Right! Guy took the car for a test drive, put it up on the fancy car elevator thing, and discovered the problem. He asked "Which one of you was off-roading? There are fresh scrapes on the under carriage, and tons of rocks caught in the gear mount" Surprisingly enough, neither one of us had recently been off-roading... but what had we done recently? Driven down the Crooker's driveway. It's a steep, windy driveway in the woods, on a cliff, to get to their lake house. There are rather large ruts caused by construction vehicles and the like. The little Mazda sometimes has trouble, and evidently, last Friday was no exception. The nice mechanic pounded out all the rocks, and we were good as new! YAY! No transmission issues!
We went to the front to pay and the owner said (with a nice Jersey accent) "What, do you want a bill for that?" Smarter folks than us would say "Nope!" and then run as fast as they could, but we indicated we were prepared for one. We were told "A lot of guys would charge you an hour's labor for that, which is $98. I'm not gonna do that" I liked the sound of this; we asked how to compensate them for their time. And the owner said "How about you go get some beer for the guys?" Seriously?! "OK! What kind of beer do you like?" So we went to the adjacent liquor store and got a 12-pack of Sam Adams, which cost $14.99, and we were set. It's my favorite car repair, ever.