Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The colors of the rainbow

While there are vast numbers of things I don't know about automobiles, some that I do know are that automobiles a) are complex, b) have specific requirements, and c) need/demand occasional service.

Thus in late September, I took my vehicle, a Volkswagen Passat, to Midas for an oil change. Shortly after arrival, while waiting, I was advised that my cooling system needed flushing because its fluids were weak and there was "stuff" floating in it. What do I know? "Okay." And one hour later, $146 poorer, I take my car from Midas.

Scene shifts two months later. I take my car to the Volkswagen dealership for alignment. Why you might ask? Because they had a true service special. No, honest!

Shortly after arrival, while waiting, I was advised to come look at my cooling system. The service manager and technician pointed at brown stuff gelling in my coolant reservoir. "This is bad" they opine. "How bad?" I ask. "It isn't supposed to be brown", I'm told.

That morning I learned that automotive coolants come in colors; some green, some red, some blue and some, VW, even pink. I also learn that one should never, EVER mix them or very bad, very expensive things happen.

Two days and $3200 later, I pick up my vehicle and I call Midas. "Say, guys, do you recall what coolant you put into my car?" "Well," says the Midas technician, "it doesn't show on your invoice (I knew that) but I'm sure it was appropriate for your car." Gosh, if that doesn't give you confidence, what will?

Armed with research, some my own, some provided by the VW dealership, I again approach Midas. This time I speak with the regional manager: "Wow, if we're at fault, we'll pay for it." I'm stunned. "But it doesn't look like we are. We put in VW coolant so we don't know what happened." Well, boys and girls, I take a sample of the brown goo to Midas, directly from VW, and they say, sheepishly, "wow, that looks bad. But we need to send it to a lab."

And I think, "why? to bring it back to life?"

So, Midas can either be standup guys, admit their mistake and pay for the repair costs or ...

Stay tuned.

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