Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Gas Cap Will Get You Everytime
I hope everyone had a great weekend! I had a fairly productive one. I did a lot of things around the house, and finished up reading a great book (The Help). One thing that I did not do, that I probably should have, was get the oil changed in my car. I am sure that the car is way over due for a maintenance check-up. The problem is that Andy is out of town, and I flat-out refuse to take a vehicle in for service. Here is why...
I am not a big "car guy." Don't get me wrong. I appreciate a nice sports car, but I couldn't tell you a Lamborghini from an Infiniti. Here are the requirements for my car: be attractive, at least on the outside; be reliable, I can't be taking it in for service or repairs; and my newest need, an On-Star or similar feature, so I can call for help at any given moment, or the car can call for me when I am in accident. If you have read my earlier posts, you probably understand why I need this feature.
I did once, however, love a car. I had an unabashed love affair with my 1998 red BMW Z3. It was a sporty, 2-seat convertible that fit me like a glove. Our love was true and deep. I even took it in for regular check-ups, and it took me for long drives at sunset.
The incident that scarred me so deeply I can no longer take my vehicles in for service happened during my Z3 days. I was a young 20-something yuppy in Daytona Beach living the good life. Or as Sophia Patrillo of the Golden Girls would say, "Picture it, Daytona Beach 1999. A young man, full of nothing but himself and last night's dinner, kept the highways hot in his smoking red BMW convertible." I was living large, and was probably a bit on the cocky side of the attitude scale. One day I noticed that my "check engine" light was lit on the dashboard, and I immediately panicked. I did what every young, professional hot-shot did when his "check engine" came on...I called my parents. "Take it in to the dealer," says my Dad. Well, I didn't have time for that. I was a mover and shaker! I needed to go! But then, I started smelling gas inside the car. Gasp!! I called home again. "Take it in to the dealer," Dad says. I ask to talk to Mom. "Take it in to the dealer, honey," Mom says. I give up. Obviously, they are not taking the hint, and they are not driving down to Florida from Kentucky to fix this for me.
I suck it up and take my car into the dealership myself, sure that with such a strong gas smell inside the car, I am going to burst into flames at any minute. I drop the car off, and get a loaner for the day. When I come back that afternoon, the guy tells me, "Oh Mr. Stewart, it was nothing at all. It was just that your gas cap wasn't screwed on correctly." Having no clue what that meant, I said, "Great! Is it fixed? Can I see the car? When will it be ready?" He looks strangely at me and hands me the keys and points to my Love and tells me it is ready to go home. I was so relieved! Life was good.
The very next time I filled my car up with gas, the same thing happened. Appalled, I took the car back into the dealership, bypassing my parents lame attempt at help. I told them that the same thing was happening, and then stressed to them all the fact I COULD SMELL GAS. Maybe they didn't understand me the first time. I would think that would be a red flag of warning to a mechanic. Sigh. I come back later that afternoon to pick up the car. The guy tells me, "Yes, Mr. Stewart, it was really nothing. It is just your gas cap not being on correctly." Now, I am a very patient person. I wanted to say something mean, maybe tell him I had been in before a few weeks ago with the same problem, but I didn't. I held my tongue. I just said, "Did you fix it?" He looked at me, smiled, and said "Yes." I left in my car, and by the time I was home, I was happy again. Life was good.
Imagine my horror, when just two weeks later, after filling up the car with gas (I am still not picking up on the trend), the "check engine" comes on and I can smell gas in the car! Rage filled me! I was not having my car treated this way! What kind of Popsicle stand was this BMW dealership?! I rushed the car in for repair. I very plainly told them that this was the third time I had been in and that I would wait there for my car to be fixed. Of course, it took them all of 5 minutes, and the guy comes out and says that it is ready. This just fueled my fire. I was being patronized by these people! I asked to speak to the service manager. When he came out, I told him the entire story, and that this was the third time I had been in with the same problem. He says, "Mr. Stewart, it is the gas cap. It wasn't screwed on correctly." I had had enough. I look him straight in the eye and say, "I know what the problem is, what I don't know is if you can fix it." He stares at me, not sure what his next move will be. I then go in for my kill, "Am I going to have to bring in my car every time I get gas?" He then starts trying to explain, "You know when you get gas, you take off your gas cap to put the nozzle in the car? When you put it back on, you need to line up....." That was all I heard. Realization hit me. The GAS CAP was not a part of the car that was under the hood and/or trunk of my car. It was the gas cap that I used. All this time, I had not lined up my gas cap correctly. That was the problem. I was the problem! I could see his mouth moving but couldn't hear any words as I fumbled for bag and keys. "I understand. Thank you," I think I muttered on my way out. As I pulled out, my face as red as my car, the service manager and the service guy who had been screwing my gas cap back on for me both waved goodbye.
That was the last time that I took my car, any car for that matter, in for service. I just can't do it. But, I am very careful now to line up the ridges on the gas cap correctly when I fill up with gas!