Friday, July 13, 2012

Purple Kia Blues

Our car has needed maintenance for a while now but we have been putting it off because "it still runs".  In Regina, maintenance was easy.  I took my car to Bob Grant's Auto Service and said "Change the oil and fix what is needed".  Bob and Marlene and crew looked after our family fleet for many years.  It was wonderful to have a mechanic you could trust.

I am glad I don't live there any more as they have since retired and sold the business.  I suspect whoever bought it would be trustworthy though or Bob would go back and deal with him personally.  And if that didn't work, Marlene would go in and THAT you don't want.

Here in Ukraine it is a different matter for me.  If I had to do it, it would be go to Kia Motors and say "Change the oil and fix what is needed" and then Oh, boy watch out.  Dealers are never good places to go in my experience unless you can diagnose and prescribe exactly.  Fortunately, I have Andrei to help; he knows every blue collar businessman in Zholti Vody and surrounding towns.

Andrei, Tania and Masha are borrowing our car to go to the black Sea for a holiday and Andrei, who looks after our car better than I do, wanted to make sure it was in shape to travel the distance.  So Monday he took it to his friend Sasha for "diagnosis".

Sasha has a 1950's garage complete with pit and calendars, in a couple of Soviet built garage/storage system stalls.  In Soviet times, garages were built in banks and clusters of hundreds some distance from where apartments were located (scientific efficiency, you know).  This meant you had to take a bus or taxi to get your car.  It also meant you used public transportation which was excellent rather than clog the streets with cars and burn precious gasoline.

Sasha works mainly on Ladas and other older cars, I think.  I asked if he was a good mechanic and Andrei says "I tell him what to do on the Kia and he does it".  Between them they decided what needed doing and what parts were necessary.  Then Andrei went to a parts store (one of many in town) and ordered the parts which would be in late Wednesday.

It needed new summer tires as the treads were getting pretty worn.  Andrei had a friend in Alexandria about 50 km away who had Michelins made in France for $80 installed, about $40 less than I would have paid for the same tires.  Michelin also makes tires in Russia but these as any Russian built tires are to be avoided if possible apparently.  Wednesday late afternoon Andrei picked up the parts and went to get the tires.

Thursday Sasha started on the repairs.  I saw the parts Andrei picked up and other than the filters, fan belt and antifreeze, didn't recognize anything.  I have been a Chrysler mini-van person for decades and they wear out different looking pieces of front end and suspension.  Sasha finished today after lunch and Andrei and I went to pick up the car.  Total bill so far 6000 UAH.

Then we took it for a wheel alignment.  This is a new modern auto service centre, with high ceilings, clean floors, no calendars and fancy equipment.  First of all I didn't know they even did wheel alignments in Ukraine.  Given the road conditions here an alignment would be valid until you left the garage.  Like a certificate of health on a hooker in Tijuana, as they say.

The bad news was that before they could do a wheel alignment the back springs need replacing.  Now I have been suspicious for a long time that all was not well with the springs or shocks as we were bouncing far too much and bottoming out on too many holes that were not that deep or abrupt.  They are on order and will be here maybe Monday.  Another 2000 UAH and baby will be all set to run smoothly for a few more months.  And Andrei's family will have a safe trip to the Crimean seashore.

I used to tease Bob Grant about his "$400 oil changes".  I need to call him up and tell him I had nothing to complain about having just had a $1000 oil change.







12 comments:

  1. You do not want to trust your car to any Tom, Dick, or Harriet. Glad you got it fixed, even if you had to give up the birthrights of your two oldest kids. Or something like that.

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  2. Maintanence, maintanence,maintanence....not fun for anything!! Including myself....

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  3. I try to do as much of my own maintenance as I possibly can. With the newer cars and trucks there isn't much someone like me can do without specialized equipment, but I try. Some things I have to farm out like alignments and the other year I had the transmission rebuilt in my F-150. My neighbor is an expert mechanic and specializes in transmission repair. Parts and labor cost $1100, but now the truck should last for many years. Now that I've said that it'll break down the next time I use it!!

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    1. RB, according to my son, being in my will and $5 will get you coffee at Starbucks
      afcg; I need some maintenance too. My front end ain't what it used to be and my rear suspension is sagging.
      Kulkuri, when Ella and I got married in '74 she had a Ford Falcon 289 V8. That was the last vehicle we owned that I could do all the work on. Now I don't even try. It is all computers. A journeyman mechanic has the equivalent of 3 years of engineering.

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  4. Found one of the last remaining old school mechanics here who treats me well. I used to do nearly all repairs myself until NASSA started designing cars. Now even my mechanic has to rely on a younger computer nerd for the electronics. It's robbery I tell you. What used to cost me $30 in parts for plugs and rotor and take me 1/2 hour now runs over $100 and another $250 in labor.

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  5. I use to do all my own maintenance but now cars are computerized and everything in the engine compartment packed so tight I won't even attempt maintenance.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Demeur and Ol'Buzzard, computers in cars took all the fun out of it for do-it-yourself grease monkeys.

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  6. I hope that 6000 UAH wasn't enough to hurt much.

    Like Buzzard, I used to do my own repairs, but I didn't enjoy it, so, except for the money I saved and the independent feeling I had, I don't miss it much.

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    1. 8000 UAH is $1000 USD. We took cash from my credit card. Spread the pain over a few months, I guess.

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  7. Hi,
    I have a 2000 Hyundai Elantra that has about 35,000 miles on it. I’ve never really done any preventative maintenance on the car, mostly out of ignorance of what exactly I should have done.

    I am starting to use the car more for commuting, and would like to invest some money into it to keep it running safely and smoothly for a few more years. What are some good services I can ask for when I go to the mechanic, and which services are generally bogus?

    Thanks!

    Steering Rack

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    1. Your car manual should have a chart in the back that tells you what services are needed every x miles/kilometers. I'd work from that with a low mileage unit like that and once you get in the 100K to 200K miles by then you should have found a mechanic you can trust.

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  8. This is a great site. Maintenance is important whether we like it or not. I get irritated each time my truck needs one. But it's fun!

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