September 01, 2012

The Service Department

"Oh what a feeling!"
My truck is sick. With only 29,000 miles on the odometer she's just a kid. A toddler in truck years. A week ago I was winding my way along the shores of the Sacandaga on route to visit my friend Doug for a day of fishing. With each sweeping left curve, and with the mph about 40, she was whining like a lost kitten. My first thought was the powersteering fluid might be low or leaking. I arrived at Doug's safely and we checked the truck over closely. We could detect no leak. Although we added a splash of power steering fluid the level appeared normal. The squealing continued on the ride home so the next step was to make an appointment with the truck doctor. I bought my Tundra about a year ago with only 18,000 miles on it's birth certificate. It was a Certified Pre-owned and I added another two years of extended warranty. I would not be happy if I got the,"She's not covered, song and dance." I did my homework. I spoke to a well schooled mechanic. I went online and researched service alerts for my make and model vehicle. I dug out my warranty info. Let me put it this way. After forty plus years of driving and dealing with car and truck repairs I'm a seasoned veteran of being snowed, screwed, taken for a ride, taken to the cleaner, hoodwinked, bullshitted, and robbed at pen-point. I don't go easy anymore. I am fair, polite, trusting to a fault and willing to write you a check- as long as you don't lie to me at the service desk. So with that thought in mind I called the birthplace of my Tundra, Lia Toyota of Colonie and made an appointment for 7:15am. Milkman hours, I like this place so far. I arrived right on time and parked right out front. I entered like a kid on his first day of classes, with my head on a swivel as if searching for room numbers and directions to my home room. I found the receptionist and she explained that all I needed to do was pull my vehicle up to the overhead doors and drive inside. Someone would then take my keys and information and the healing would begin. Wow, I wasn't expecting that. I must also add that this place is immaculate. They provide freshly brewed coffee, big screen tv's, ambient music, comfortable seating spread throughout a large and expansive showroom, and so far everyone has been polite and direct. I am cautiously optimistic. This is not my first rodeo. 

I enter the garage through this huge overhead door. A man is standing just inside. He has a clipboard. A man with a clipboard means only one thing; a form and lots of questions are about to follow. The polite gentleman writes down the VIN number and checks the mileage. He then leads me through a plate glass door to white-shirt man and passes me off like a baton in an Olympic event. My new white-shirt friend has a desk with two chairs in front. I sit down and he asks me to describe the problem in detail. Some of the doctors I have been to in the last few years could take some lessons from this procedure. I explain in great detail where the noise seems to be coming from. I also give him my unsolicited opinion on what I think the problem is. He actually listens to me. He then reviews how the diagnostics will work and what they will do from there. He points me toward the coffee and off into the cavernous showroom he goes.
I find a remote corner with a panoramic view of the facility. I pull out my iPad and begin typing away. If this gets ugly I will have it down on cyber-paper. 

This place is as relaxing as an Adirondack Lodge. I could sit here for days. I am about to doze into a coma when Mr. White Shirt approaches. Here we go, grab the boxing gloves and sound the bell, Round #1 is about to begin. "Mr. Greenwood," he quietly asks. "Can you come out here a minute. The 'Tech' wants to show you what he thinks is the problem." I prepare for a tussle. I've been here before. When they get real polite and stay more than an uppercut to the chin away I begin to suspect a bill in triple digits plus. The 'Tech' with the peach-fuzz chin brings me to the rear wheel. He points to a spot of shiny metal near the brake rotor. I bristle. I have a steering problem and they're going to tell me I need a $750 brake job! The 'Tech' says there is a backplate behind the rotor and that it seem to be rubbing just enough to create the squeal I am hearing. 'Tech' says he adjusted the plate and he thinks it will solve my problem. I'm not buying it. White-Shirt and 'Tech' sense my apprehension and pause. "We don't normally do this Mr. Greenwood, but if you would like you can take 'Tech' out for a test drive and see if you can recreate the noise." Okay, now were talking, I will finally show them I am no Just-Write-a-Check pushover. Off 'Tech' and I go racing through the side streets of Colonie trying make a Tundra whine. It never happens. It's as quiet as a Lexus. No squeal, squeak, or whine can be created. I raise the white flag. How much do I owe? White-Shirt explains it doesn't fall under the warranty because nothing really failed. The cost for repair is less than a Franklin. If I get home in silence, I'm a happy man. I do and I am. 

The moral of this longwinded story? 

I love my Toyota
I have a renewed optimism with regards to repair facilities
I am hard to impress, but White-Shirt and 'Tech' did it. 
No matter how old you are, there is still wonder left in the world.
My truck remains silent and whine-less
I am secretly hoping for a simple problem to appear. That coffee was great and the chairs.... 


  1. I love your writing--you made a trip to the mechanic into a humorous and entertaining piece. Hats off!

  2. Who knew that a trip to a mechanic could be so well-written and leave the reader so happy? It was and I am. :)

  3. Kudos Johnny G. I think my next trip to "The Service Department" is going to be a good one!

  4. Great story! And I'm so glad it had such a happy ending.

  5. Very nice. I love the place I bought my car and the service department is amazing. They even wash my car free of charge after an oil change. Dorschel in Rochester, NY. Buying the car was a breeze.