Today was a wet, dark, cold day. In a word, it was dreary. However, no matter how wet, how dark or how cold it was, it was a great day! What made it great is that the Fiat dealership up in Concord told me that our cute, little Fiat would be ready to be picked up this afternoon. Thus, Mary Margaret and I hopped into our rental car and drove up to Concord where the dealership is located.
Getting there was a bit of a challenge due to the sloppy weather and the heavy traffic. Drivers in California react to the first significant rain of the season the same way drivers in the East, Midwest and North react to the first snow. In other words, they don’t realize that they do not have to same control of their vehicles on slick roads as they do on dry ones. The result is a traffic mess with fender benders making the freeways as slow as molasses. It took almost 90 minutes to travel the 35 miles we had to drive. Nevertheless, the horrible drive was worth it as we were reunited with our cute little Fiat once we arrived.
There she was, bright and shiny, glistening in her bright red paint with drops of rainwater making her look all the more attractive. It seemed to us that she was as happy to see us as we were to see her.
As we walked into the office of the service center, we knew the good part of our reunion was over with and we braced for the bad and ugly parts. During the 29 days that the dealership had our little Fiat, I had been in contact with them, discovering what the problem was and what it was going to take to fix her up and get her back on the road.
As it turned out, the transmission was just fine but they discovered two problems. The damage that occurred was restricted to the engine. The pistons, the piston rings and the cylinders that the pistons work in were all shot. Furthermore, we discovered that it would be cheaper and faster to just replace the engine than having it repaired. The service center was not set up to rebuild engines and, according to the technician, it is no longer done for newer cars due to the tight tolerances and electronic nature now required in newer engines. My research into this subject seemed to confirm this. Things have changed so much during the 10 years we have been sailing and, as a result, the gas mileages have zoomed up and the gas emissions have zoomed down.
The bad and ugly parts of our experience all had to do with the costs of the repairs. A new engine, which is the heart of every car, is not cheap. A silver lining of having the dealership working on our car was that they also discovered that the left axel rubber boot was torn and the thick, heavy grease that coats the axel gears was leaking out. The technician shared with us that when the new wiring for our tow breaking system was installed, the installer ripped the rubber boot which caused the resulting loss of grease.
While we were not happy to learn this, we were happy that it was discovered before all of the grease was lost and the gears were ground down and no longer worked. I asked why did I not see grease on the ground under our Fiat wherever we parked her and was told that there is a shield between the underside of the engine compartment and the road. The grease was piling up on the shield and would have never fallen onto the road.
Once we paid our bill, we drove back to Livermore and dropped off the rental car and returned to our campground and LeuC. We were a bit lighter in the pocketbook but richer knowing that our little Fiat was healthy once more.