Sunday, March 13, 2016

Valley Business

March 1, 2016: Mary is reunited with her new car!

Nine days after our trip to Mesa for my sister Karla's wedding, the same weekend in which the power steering in my "new" 2009 Chevy Traverse pooped out on me and left us stranded, we returned to the Valley to handle some family business. And that first order of business was, of course, to pick up my car from Chapman Chevrolet in Tempe, where the tow truck had left it on February 21st.

I was pretty sure I was headed for a fight with the dealership that sold me the car. It's not that I believed they purposely sold me a bad car; I just figured that their mechanic had overlooked the problem and thus they should take responsibility for a vehicle that had started exhibiting serious problems less than two weeks after I purchased it from them. And, I admit, trusting in auto dealerships to be reasonable isn't high on my trust-o-meter.

The day after we'd gotten home from Mesa, leaving my car behind, I'd stopped at my mechanic's garage after school and spoken to him about the situation. He said he would be glad to provide a statement that he'd seen my Traverse and had told me that the power steering needed attention on the 15th day after I'd bought it. This was important because in Arizona the "Lemon Law" requires dealerships to fix any problems that occur in the first fifteen days after a used car is purchased, with no more than a $25 cost to the car's new owner. However, my mechanic said it shouldn't be an issue because it had always been a policy of the dealerships in our area (where he'd used to work for several years) to repair any issues that arose in the first thirty days after an auto purchase.

That had made me feel a little better, but I was still loaded for bear when I'd gone straight from my mechanic to the dealership. You see, the mechanic from Chapman Chevrolet, Raul, had already called me that morning to report on his findings, and I'd become rather stressed over the money involved. 

First, Raul told me that a crack in my power steering fluid reservoir had widened, spilling out all the fluid onto the engine and hot belts and exhaust system. Thus, the acrid burning smell and copious smoke billowing out of my car on the night it had become undrivable. Unfortunately, the "Cadillac of warranties" that my dealership had convinced me to purchase for an additional $3,000 had already informed Raul that the reservoir was not a covered part. So to replace it was going to cost me about $350, and it had to be replaced before Raul could check the rest of the power steering system.

I asked Raul not to do anymore work on my car until I could speak to my dealership. He agreed, but told me that I already had a bill of $147 for what he had done so far. Now maybe you can imagine my frame of mind when I descended in wrath upon my dealership on that Monday after school.

Luckily for the dealers, I kept my wrath inside and managed to stay calm while I described what was going on. They brought in their mechanic, who admitted he might have missed the crack. He said he would call Chapman's mechanic to find out why the cost was so high and then decide whether it would be cheaper to tow the car here and fix it themselves or leave it in Tempe for Chapman to repair. The manager of the dealership was sympathetically horrified by our ordeal and, when I mentioned the Lemon Law, he put up a hand and said that wasn't a concern, they would take care of it.

After our visit with the dealership, Mark kept reassuring me that when the manager said, "We'll take care of it," he'd meant they would cover the costs. But I didn't rest easy until three days later, when Raul called me on Thursday to tell me that my car was ready for its long drive back home. I said, "Please tell me my balance is zero." He laughed and said, "Your balance is zero."

It turned out that, once the reservoir was replaced, they also found a slow leak in the rack and pinion (whatever that is), which was covered by my warranty. All the costs beyond that were covered by my dealership, and I express my gratitude to Horne Motor Company for their honesty and support during that very stressful time.

And so we picked up my car and drove it all over the Valley for two days before driving it the 175 miles and 7,000 feet uphill to get back home, and everything went great. It was a smooth drive and a huge relief! (I should explain that my darling daughter Sarah had loaned us her Jeep Liberty to get us to the Valley, and we'd left her with my old, rattly Pontiac Vibe).

Extended Stay America in Tempe

Thankfully, our hotel this time was much nicer than our last one. It was clean and quiet and smelled nice. It even had a kitchenette, although we didn't really stay long enough to use more than the refrigerator. Mark enjoyed their free continental breakfast, but I stayed in the room and feasted on my usual deviled eggs, plus some strawberries and some sugar-free hot cocoa.

Our hotel room for one night

Alyssum in the flowerbed outside the hotel office.

It definitely felt like spring in the Valley. Not only was it a balmy 80 degrees, but the scent of blossoms filled the air everywhere we went. My all-time favorite floral scent is the scent of alyssum, that tiny white flower that's found in gardens everywhere, but I also love the heady scent of orange blossoms, which you can smell no matter where you go in the Valley at this time of year. Unfortunately, I'm also mildly allergic to orange blossoms, so my sinuses were pretty stuffy by the time we started for home.

Orange blossoms were blooming everywhere.

Dylan and Jake wait for their dinners at Chili's in Payson.

We returned home the next day, Wednesday, after meeting with the lawyer who's handling some family business for Mark. We took a different route home than usual this time, due to the blasting going on between the cities of Superior and Globe-Miami to widen the highway that winds through the rocky foothills. So, instead of taking the Superstition Highway east to Globe-Miami and northeast to our home in the White Mountains, we took the Beeline Highway north to Payson and from there highway 260 east toward home.

That meant finding somewhere for dinner in Payson, since we arrived there just after 6:30. We used to travel through Payson often to reach Mesa when our children were small, but over the years we came to prefer the Globe-Miami route and rarely go through Payson anymore. Thus we weren't sure what restaurants we would find there. However, we passed a Chili's and Dylan suggested we stop there for dinner, so we did.

Mark and Mary at Chili's in Payson.

It was almost 8:00 when we finally left Chili's, and then we arrived safely at home by 9:45. However, our Valley trips aren't done yet. In just 12 days we leave again, this time to attend a concert in Gilbert and then to enjoy a day at the Renaissance Festival east of Apache Junction. More on those to come!

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