16 November 2006


If your business depends on having a vehicle in good running condition, buy one. I had an argument with a customer yesterday and I told him to take his crap to somebody else.

This guy is a carpenter and he works out of a 20 (180,000 miles) year old Chevy Cavalier station wagon that we've been keeping together for the past 10 years. The car is 1000 pounds overweight, we've already put 3 sets of rear springs in it, and underpowered. The transmission is failing and he can't keep motor mounts in it thanks to the extra weight.

I've been telling him for the last 3 years to get rid of the thing before it falls apart like the Blues Brothers' car at the end of the movie. His reply: It's still a good car.

So I tell him fine, you need a new transmission. He doesn't want to go for that ($2500 when the car ain't worth scrap value). I'm supposed to pour some shit in it to make it shift like an Indy Car. Ladies and germs, miracles do not come in cans.

The car also has an intermittent 'runs like shit' condition (correction, runs shittier than normal). Personally, I think it's the torque converter going to full lockup at low speed (again the transmission has to come out) but he doesn't believe me. He thinks I can turn a few wrenches, make some adjustments, and the thing will be ready to race at Talladega. I tell him it gets to a point where I can't adjust out the effects of wear and abuse from doing a job the engineers at Chevrolet never intended it to do.

And all this time I hear the car, like a dying old dog, begging me to put it out of its misery.

So I tell him I can't work on the damn thing anymore. The car is dying and the only right thing is to let it go peacefully. Either that or dump five grand into it, and that's not including the body work it needs. Did I tell you the thing is rusting away?

So suddenly I'm an asshole and I'm trying to rip him off by pointing a metaphorical gun to his head. Fine, take your piece of shit and get out of my shop.

Look, if your livelihood depends on having a vehicle in good running condition, get one that's up to the job. It's a cost of doing business, just the way the equipment in our place (tire machines, wheel balancer, lifts) is. I can't do my job with shitty equipment and when it breaks it gets fixed the right way. I don't ask it to do things it can't do because if it doesn't work, I'm out of business. If I can't afford to maintain my shit, I gotta start thinking I'm doing something wrong, or maybe I'm in the wrong line of work.

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