When you have a car that you’ve turned almost every wrench on, it’s fair to say that stubbornness can set in. Phrases such as “Nobody is going to touch my car but me!” are typically the reason why I spend all weekend on a cold concrete floor swearing and quickly emptying the box of Band-Aids. However, there comes a time when you have to just let the professionals take over and do their thing.
Drone, Drone, Drive Your Car
For the past few months, I’ve been chasing a droning noise in the rear end of the e36 328. In the past I trashed a bearing in one of my differentials because it decided it didn’t like Redline 75w140. Albeit annoying, I swapped the diff out for a good condition unit, filled it with the BMW spec fluid, and called it a day. Another 10k miles goes by and the rear end gets noisy again. Thinking I ruined my latest differential, I scrambled to find another one and got it installed the next day…and the noise still persisted.
I had a suspicion the rear wheel bearings were on their way out with well over 250k, but typically they’re very audible from inside the car. As a last ditch effort, I tried a different set of wheels with new tires, but no luck. Off to the shop I went.
Several hundred dollars later, the car comes back from the shop with new rear wheel bearings. Everything is back to normal and I go back to daily driving the car like usual. There’s a part of me that feels defeated because I couldn’t do the work myself, but I also didn’t have to invest hours of my time trying to fight something I knew very well I wasn’t equipped to fix (and I’ve bought a lot of specialty tools over the years). The good news is that I didn’t have grease covered hands for once.
Ultimately I can’t be too upset. The car is 21 years old and isn’t getting any younger. With that being said, I see a quality repair shop not unlike a good physician. It’s not somewhere you love to go, but their goal is make sure you (or the car in this case) end up with a clean bill of health. Sometime you’re going to hear things you didn’t want to, but at least you’re aware of any issues before they become a real problem.
A Shop That Cares
With the interwebz dominating nearly every aspect of anything, sites such as Google Reviews and Yelp take a good chunk of the legwork out of finding reputable businesses. The shop I usually frequent is one that I stumbled upon because a good friend happen to work there. The people working there have always provided great customer service and as a result I’ve been a repeat customer. The other benefit to a quality shop is that I don’t have to explain the car to them each time. For most people this isn’t an issue, but for people with their favorite aftermarket parts catalog thrown at their car, it can be tiresome to inform a new shop “what’s been done.”
Does this mean I plan to stop working on cars myself? Definitely a no-go. At the rate things are tinkered with, I’d go broke in a heartbeat (or worse, have nothing to write about!). However, there are times when it’s simply not worth the frustration and wasted time. A high school Economics teacher would tell you it’s an opportunity cost, as you fall asleep drooling into your composition notebook. Also, shops typically warranty their work, so if you have a problem, it’s on them to fix it again. For once, I can just hop in and drive. So that’s why people like new cars…