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RTTTTed On November - 21 - 2010

Need A Mechanic – Call A Lawyer


by Ted Hlokoff




I started my trip to Surrey with a bad feeling that something was wrong with my car.  During a second stop to check over my Stealth I noticed that the insides of both back tires showed the cords.  I turned around and started driving the 150kms home.


Bummer, only 18,000kms on my $430 each Toyo Proxies and they’re worn out.  After switching the rear tires and rims for a set off my other Stealth I headed towards Surrey for the second time.   I pulled into a rest area outside of Hope and leaned the Leather seat back for a few hours sleep time (about 4am).


Up early I continued my drive and got to Chilliwack around 10am.  My Aunt’s Anniversary Party wasn’t until the afternoon so I figured I’d stop at Great Canadian Oil Change and have my trans. Fluid checked.  During shipping the freight company had hit the trans case with something and it had a small (1/4”) crack that leaked a few drops a day.  When I talked to the GCOC manager, he suggested that I buy some epoxy at Canadian Tire across the street and fix the leak.  I did.  Arriving back at GCOC I spoke to the new manager and he OK’d the repair and trans. oil change.  After 5 min. parked over the pit, however, the manager came to my window and told me that the ‘hole’ in my trans was too large for epoxy to fix it.  I told him that there was no hole, just a tiny crack.   He said that because of “liability issues” they could not do anything to my transmission.  Informing him that I lived 800kms away did not change anything.  I asked him if they could please check my trans. fluid at least. 


He said, “No problem.”


5 min. later he was at my window telling me that the threads were coming out of the trans with the fill plug and if removed, it would not go back in the hole.  I told him that I had filled the trans last night and there was nothing wrong with the threads. 


He said, “I’m sorry, but we can’t help you.”


I asked if he could show me this hole and cross-threaded plug, but he said that insurance wouldn’t allow me to get out of the car – liability issues, you know?


Stunned, I asked, “That’s it?  You can’t do anything to help me?”


He just repeated, “I’m sorry, we can’t help you.”


I drove over to Canadian Tire and parked.  I walked up to the counterman and explained the problem to him, as well as what had happened at Great Canadian Oil Change.  It only took him a minute to decide that he couldn’t help me either.


“I’m sorry, but if the epoxy doesn’t seal the leak, the trans. may fail, you might sue us and we may be held responsible.”


I replied, “Since I live over 800kms away from here and GCOC said that I have a large hole in my tranny case obviously my tranny needs to have the fluid checked and make sure that there is no new hole in the case, like he said there is.  If you can’t do it, I’ll have to do it in your parking lot myself.”


Again, “I’m sorry, we can’t help you.”


Amazed that two mechanics couldn’t help me with a minor maintenance job on my car, I wandered through the auto parts dept at Canadian Tire.  Since I’d brought no tools I bought a liter of Gear Lube, a funnel with a hose and a pair of vise grips.


At my car in the parking lot I drove to the front door of the Canadian Tire store and drove my right tires onto the curb so that I could slide under the car.  Opening the hood and sliding under the car in my dress clothes I found that GCOC had done a nice job cleaning my tranny case.  The crack was still there and no ‘hole’ visible.  The leak had slowed down and was difficult to see.  I epoxied the crack and the leak stopped.  I used my new vise grips to remove the fill plug and no threads came with it.  I found that the new funnel was too short and I had to hold the hose to the gear lube container and squirt the oil into the transmission from the bottom of the car.  It took 2 oz. to fill the trans with oil.  Unfortunately, I spilled more than that on myself. Any customers that would listen, got an explanation of why my car was being worked on in front of the Store’s front doors and not in the shop.  A few customers turned away and went to a different store because they were so disgusted.


I don’t understand why these three Fraser Valley mechanics are worried about legalities, insurance, liabilities and don’t fix cars.  If mechanics are so knowledgeable about law, do the lawyers fix cars in the Fraser Valley now?  Or is it normal for National Chain Auto Repair Shops to expect customers to fix their own cars?  The trans didn’t need any fluid and the epoxy worked.


If this problem happened to a tourist in Nimpo Lake I can think of a least a dozen people that would have fixed the car, and none of them are certified mechanics.  It would have been fixed at the Repair Shop, the Restaurant, the Welding shop, Anahim Lake Trading Store or even the Car Wash. 


I don’t get it …


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