So I took my car in for service yesterday. My car is a 9 year old Jeep with 130K on the odometer. I feel guilty about its mpg but love it deeply.
I always knew I would have a jeep.
One of my uncles/cousins' girlfriends/wives (I was 7, I have no idea really. She had short blond hair) showed up at a gathering at my Gammy's house in a cream colored Jeep (not unlike this one) and took all the little cousins for rides around the neighborhood. She let us STAND UP WHILE IT WAS MOVING. AND HOLD ONTO THE ROLLBAR. WE GOT PULLED OVER BY THE POLICE.
Ecstasy. Hands down one of the highlights of my childhood (she was probably driving 7 miles an hour. It was still awesome). Chrysler should make this into a commercial.
(Chrysler should also look into making those things more fuel efficient - my car at 9 years? Gets better mileage (tho not by much) than the sticker mileage on the current edition Liberty.) (I got hopped up on Dr. Pepper and Pop Tarts from the vending machine while waiting for them to finish the service and read all the spec sheets in the showroom. They had one of these, which made me laugh)
Anyway, I imprinted on a Jeep at a very young age and despite the fact that I could HEAR my father rolling over in his grave (Get the Honda! GET THE HONDA!) the first thing I did when I thought I could handle a new car payment was start looking at mini-trucks. I TRIED to be sensible and get like, the Escape, which was really a Mazda. But then I drove the Jeep and I knew we were meant to be. Fuck sensible.
Last spring I had a major service done and she's not been quite right since then. In the process of taking her back several times I discovered a) that the dealer where I bought her is no longer a Jeep dealer and they had not told me this, so this major service had not in fact been done by the official major service provider and b) I am really really tired of 50ish blue collar guys treating me like I'm stupid.
(They rotated the tires without checking wear levels and the differential was overheating because the two back tires were not evenly worn. A new set of tires solved the major problem, but I felt there was some ongoing irregularity in the rear.)
I didn''t know enough about cars to know to check this - which IS my fault - the more you know, as they say. But I KNEW something was wrong with the differential, it's a very distinct noise and I've experienced it before. So I kept taking it back and they kept telling me I was imagining things, as a result of which I drove on an overheating differential for several weeks before I took it back AGAIN and they 'discovered' the tire problem. Plus the new brakes were noisy and I asked them to identify the cause and in both cases I essentially got a pat on the head and an "it's nothing to worry about" and after my 5th differential problem related visit, also that it was fixed, any remaining noise was my imagination and also, not dangerous anyway and they were done talking about it.
I bought the car from them, they've been earning secondary income from me for 9 years and after yesterday, I will never go back.
What happened yesterday?
I went to the other Jeep dealer, the one that's still a Jeep dealer. I needed to get the engine checked before the autumn's road trips and as I said, I've never quite trusted the car since the service debacle of the spring. I needed an oil change, my blinker was damaged from this goose I killed a few months ago, I cracked a taillight parallel parking 20 minutes after my boyfriend and I broke up, but mostly, I needed someone who WASN'T one of those guys to reassure me that the car was roadworthy for a trip where I was not going to be 5 miles from civilization the whole time.
So you know, I went in. I've been putting it off because I hate being treated like I'm imagining things, but it had to be done. They're open 24 hours during the week it turns out (me: so i can get an oil change at 1 am if I really want one? He: sure, you've got insomnia, we're here to help) . The service guy got the mechanic out to listen to my differential tale of woe. We went for a test drive, he asked specific questions to complete his understanding of the circumstances. They took notes. They listened with no appearance of polite contempt to my questions and descriptions. They laughed at the goose story. They drove me to the office. They also took 2 hours longer to finish the service than was ideal, so I had to cancel an after work appointment, which was a drag.
They found the noise in the brakes though, told me it was an expensive fix that was not mechanically necessary and EXPLAINED WHAT IT WAS so I could stop worrying about it (and also, seem to have fixed it anyway in the process.), changed my oil, fixed my blinker, quoted me on my poor cracked taillight (next month), employ women in the service department, and somehow, despite the fact that there was no engine service done, the Jeep is running quieter and more smoothly than she's done in 6 months. I was THRILLED to give them my money. And I'll be back for regular service, more regular than at the old place because....
Last spring when I did that major service I said to the service guy I really need this car to run for another 40K. Money's tight, etc, etc. And he shrugged. Indifference? Unlikely? It was hard to tell.
Yesterday, when I was talking to the new mechanic he asked me if I wanted a quote on the dent in the door (a deer hit me a few years ago. I have lots of animal stories) and I said, eh, it's an old car, not sure its worth it...and he said, "there's NO WAY that car won't run for years more".
And I realize that my dislike for the way I was treated at the original dealer was subtly keeping me from making time to maintain the car. They were always friendly, but the undertone was misogynist and actively discouraged me from having faith in the soundness of my car. I hadn't really noticed it consciously, but it took me 6 months to get the car into someone else because I thought it'd be the same experience.
And yeah, I'm sure the new shop would be delighted to take my money to fix the dent, but I walked out of there with renewed faith in my car and without the grubby feeling of pushing a boulder uphill that is the act of being female in a man's world. I don't even care if they're FAKING a better attitude, I'm going to use them again and my car probably WILL last a lot longer because I'll not be unconsciously avoiding the service desk.