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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

No Good in the Clutch

No Good in the Clutch
In 1990 I leased a new Jeep Wrangler.  I loved the Jeep Wrangler, it was no frills yet it had a certain “cool” factor.  I felt it was a safe car for my kids to drive, not so much power that they would be tempted to speed and showoff, but cool enough for a high school kid.  I leased the car because I couldn’t afford to buy it outright.  I could afford the lease, but money was tight.

The car ran fine for a year until there was suddenly a problem with the clutch. The car simply would not shift past second gear.  Reverse was not even an option.  I probably should have had the car towed to the dealer for service, but that would have been expensive so instead I drove it twenty miles in second gear.  I took it to the dealer because I assumed the problem would be under warranty.

The clutch needed to be replaced.  It was apparently completely shot.  Of course it was not under warranty.  The drive chain was covered (whatever that is) the steering was covered, the tires were covered, and the electric was covered.  Everything on that car was covered by a warranty; everything but the clutch.

A new clutch cost $600 a major dent in my meager bank account.  Of course it had to be replaced; the car was only one year old.  At this point I wished I had brought the car to my regular mechanic, Tom at the Volk’s Shop (see “The Volk’s Shop” which was only one mile from my house.  Tom generally fixed anything and never charged me more than $300.  Oh well, a clutch was a clutch and sure to cost at least $600 even if installed by my favorite trusted mechanic.

I bit the bullet and paid the $600.

Exactly one year later the jeep once again would not shift past second gear.  Crap!  This time I drove it over to The Volk’s Shop for Tom to fix it.

“What’s the problem,” Tom asked.

“Ah'm not sure, it just doesn’t want to get out of second gear.” 

I had long ago learned to never tell Tom what you thought was the problem.  Tom was a great mechanic, but he was very literal.  If you told him what you thought was wrong, that is what he would fix.  It was much better to say “I don’t know” and let him determine what needed to be done.

I walked back home trying to figure out how I would get the money to pay for a new clutch…again…and cursing that friggin Jeep under my breath.  When I got home Tom had called.  He was probably giving me the bad news and checking if I wanted to spend the $600 on a new clutch.

I called him back.

“Volk’s Shop.”

“Yeah Tom, it’s the guy with the Jeep the Jeep…what’s the bad news?”

“Oh yeah, it’s not good…”

“Shit” I thought, "here it comes.”

“Yeah, your clutch cylinder has a small leak.  I could replace it for $137.48 (the man was always precise) but if you just added fluid every year it would probably be OK, it’s a really small leak.  It cost $2.97 for fluid, no charge for labor, didn’t take but a minute”

This was great news, $2.97 not $600.
When I picked up the car, I had to ask,

"Tell me Tom, any chance the cylinder was damaged when the original clutch was replaced?”

“Doubt it.  That there clutch is the original.”

That clicking sound is the light bulb over my head turning on.
One week from the time that Tom made it abundantly clear that the Jeep dealer had completely ripped me off, the Jeep dealer burned to the ground.  It burned down one year and a week after they charged me $600 for a new clutch when all they did was add clutch fluid.

No…I didn’t do it…I’m Cranky, not crooked, but the dealership had either burned down by some unfortunate accident, or more likely, knowing them to be unscrupulous, they were losing money and it was torched for the insurance.
Either way, I was out $600, and karma was still a bitch.
Re-run from February 2013


  1. First of all that is one damn nice mechanic. How rare!
    2nd - Karma is a bitch. But they probably got a ton of insurance money and that sucks since they took $600 from you and probably many more!

  2. Yay, Tom! Not many of them out there.

    Revenge will be coming their way.

  3. Unbelievable, but it does seem as though car dealerships are shady. I take it that was the only dealership's location?

  4. Is it terrible of me to be glad the Jeep dealership burned down? Probably someone else also got burned $600, found out and took revenge. I am sorry you lost the $600 though. Did you get to keep the Jeep because there was no dealership and no paperwork left?

  5. Even Steven and karma often work together. You might have been out the $600 the previous year, but your Volk's Shop guy Tom SAVED you $600 this time. You know it would probably have been even more if you took it back to the dealer again! might have burned up in the fire while waiting for "repairs," and I assume there was insurance on it.

  6. They got what they deserved, and thank goodness you knew of a decent place to get your vehicle fixed in future.

  7. I was thinking along the lines of River. Someone else got ripped off who was cranky AND crooked. Love Karma.

  8. I thought only us women got ripped off by the male, know it all, mechanics. (We have a wonderful mechanic like your Tom so no offense intended for the male species.)Businesses going up in flames was the norm where I grew up..Chicago..and usually a trunk with a body inside was also in the mix. That would be Ok in your case since it was a car dealership! Ha! In fact, I just remembered, the restaurant where Jack and I had our first date also went up in flames. The irony was the name of the place was "The Flame". You just can't make that kind of crap up!

  9. You know the amount of car trouble we've had, so you have my sympathy.