Mike Parker: Family endures vehicular ‘bank slaughter’

Mike Parker: Family endures vehicular ‘bank slaughter’

I have often heard bad things occur in groups of three. Nothing makes that point clearer than the car problems my family faced this summer. The seeming tsunami of car issues began with Rachel’s Santa Fe.

Her car is only a year or two old and – thankfully – still under warranty. On July 1, she took it to an area Hyundai dealer to get the car checked and fixed. She and her family were planning a trip to the Poconos and on to other sights, including a visit to Niagara Falls. I think this trip will go down as the “Great Water Fall Quest.”

When after 38 days, she still did not have the car back, she had a problem. The loaner car was cute but small. Since she and her family often camp when they take these summer excursions, they needed a vehicle with plenty of room.

Sister Sara loaned Rachel her 2012 Toyota Sienna, a vehicle that could accommodate all their gear. When she returned on August 2, the Santa Fe was still not ready. She got her car back on Aug. 7, and, she says, it is running like a champ.

Then son Michael and his family went to Williamsburg, Va. On the way, Michael noticed his car started “acting funny.” Have you ever noticed when anyone uses this term, nothing humorous is going on?

He was fortunate to find a Goodyear shop to look at his Chrysler 300. Problems with the car included two seized calipers due to faulty brake hoses, destroyed rotors, and tire damage caused by the brake issues. So, $2,500 in repairs later and an extra night spent at the Great Wolf Lodge, he got his car back.

Just after Michael returned, I had my 2014 Prius checked. I was getting ready to embark on a trip to Clermont, Fla., and did not want to encounter any problems on the road I could possibly avoid. Lucky and the crew at Massey checked my vehicle and gave it a clean bill of health. My trip with Sandra, Isaiah and Alex went off without a hitch, so I was hoping our series of unfortunate car events was over.

Then Sandra went to a routine doctor’s appointment. When she returned home, she said:

“Do you remember when I told you that sometimes my car doesn’t want to start?”

“Not really,” I replied honestly. (She constantly tells me so much that my limited internal hard drive sometimes cannot process all the data she shares. I wish I knew a way to defragment my mind.)

She described in detail the problem she experienced. I suggested we take the car to Massey to get the battery checked. We took the car to Bobby at Massey’s service department. Bobby said he would have her 2002 Hyundai Accent checked and get back with us.

When Bobby called, the only thing I really remembered was the price tag to complete the work. Bobby always presents his suggestions in order of importance. A new battery was a must. The tech had also noted oil leaking from the valve cover gaskets. The timing belt needed replacing since the car has 88,000 miles – and the manufacturer recommends replacing the belt every 60,000 miles. Bobby ticked off a couple more items. Total fixes: $1,025.95.

“I will talk to my wife and see what she wants to do,” I stammered.

In fairness to her car, we have spent almost nothing for repairs outside routine maintenance. Sandra has not had a car payment for a dozen years or so. When I got home to tell her about the car, its issues, and the price tag, she said:

“Bobby called and told me what was wrong with the car. I told him to fix it. Plus, they will wash it, too,” she said brightly.

The next day, her car was ready.

At this moment, we have hit the magic three. Maybe we are done with vehicular bank slaughter for now.

I sure hope so.

Mike Parker is a columnist for Neuse News. You can reach him mparker16@gmail.com.

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