The right ‘casa’ is better

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2021 - 12:00am

Many car owners in the Philippines would avoid going to the “casa” or the dealership and service center where they bought their car because of the general impression that casas charge twice what outside shops charge and often find more things wrong with your car than what you want fixed. I used to think that way but through years of getting to know the business of car distributors and dealers, I’ve come to a better understanding as to why that is. So it comes as no surprise to me that some friends were shocked when I decided to entrust my beloved 2000 Chevrolet Silverado pick-up to be partially restored by the Covenant Car Corporation Inc. under the watchful eye of its president and CEO Albert Arcilla.

Why on earth would a known “restorer” defy tradition and go to the casa? To begin with, I don’t have a 100-year pedigree that Chevrolet has in manufacturing, selling and servicing Chevy cars and trucks. I could “wing it” in terms of old school, non-computerized vintage and classic cars that require nothing more than a wrench, pliers and screw drivers, but I won’t be a know-it-all when it comes to modern day highly electronic, computerized full-sized vehicles such as my Chevy Silverado.

Actually… I tried, by supervising a handyman/mekaniko, but I eventually discovered that even after buying original parts from a known supplier, we still managed to botch the job. Not knowing the OEM or Original Equipment from Manufacturers’ standard, we simply sent in samples that turned out to be erroneous replacements from earlier “outside of casa” servicing. Then the mechanic whom I presumed knew what he was doing failed to install several parts in the right sequence and had “excess accessories” that turned out to be locks and spacers that should have gone in.

After that someone suggested I replace the primary exhaust system with the catalytic converter or anti-pollution device at a cost of about P150,000 because the engine wasn’t burning fuel right. At some point I figured it would be better to sell off most of my unfinished “collector’s junk cars,” pay a huge down payment on the upcoming 2021-2022 Chevy Silverado that’s all-American full-size and comes with a powerful diesel engine to boot.

So I called Atty. Albert Arcilla and narrated my challenges with a 20-year old inherited pick-up. I was certain that buying the new model was the best option for a “farm boy” like me who is also part-time “picker” on the road. Unfortunately, even Chevy has not been spared by the global pandemic so the initial first quarter release of the Silverado will most likely be in the third if not last quarter of 2020.

In the meantime, Albert suggested bringing in my Chevy pick-up for an assessment to at least find out what needs to be done and what a partial restoration would cost. I expressed concerns about parts and prices and learned that such an “old” model is already classified as phased out in many places, but some parts that were made mandatory stock by their parent company are probably still available and would be affordable. If casas charge more it is because they are required to keep a minimum stock of replacement parts and honor global warranties on those parts.

Since there was no initial cost involved for the check-up, I would now have the chance to find out, scientifically and professionally, what is wrong and what needs to be fixed in my Chevy truck so I willingly agreed. Fortunately, I was familiar with the manager assigned to this undertaking, Mr. Lito Landicho, who is a restoration enthusiast as well and it did not take long for their computer to tell me the truth and the lies I heard about the truck.

I did not need a P150,000 primary exhaust system; all I needed were two air/oxygen sensors. My high-end German shock absorbers were nice but an inch or two short for the required clearance. The suspension arm geometry was so off due to wrong installation and alignment because most shops don’t have equipment to work on a long or full size Chevy Silverado.

I advised Lito about the on-board computer often advising to add coolant and we later discovered that the radiator had been repaired and altered, thereby reducing the cooling efficiency and design of the radiator. Somebody replaced the upper plastic head with a brass/tanso top so you’ll never get a perfect seal or longtime use from a high-pressure engine.

All the repairs as well as the interiors eventually got done and the job was so good that Albert asked to borrow the pick-up as a side-by-side comparison between the old and the new Silverado later this year. As a result of this, my wife and I went down to Divisoria to buy special water resistant, non-scratch material for a car cover that my wife Karen made for our Chevy!

But judging from what I already saw and read online in the US about the latest Silverado model, I will be crying puddles of envy since my 2000 model operates on a mighty 8-cylinder gasoline engine while the new one has a powerful diesel engine, great interiors and an even better ride.

I definitely learned a lot and gained much wisdom by trusting the casa or the Covenant Cars Corporation Inc. and Atty. Albert Arcilla. My Chevy is a hundred times better from when we started BUT I still want my first new car: the Chevy Silverado 2021-2022. Please include my wish in your prayers. God bless.

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Pls join us every morning 8 to 9 a.m., Monday to Friday and watch AGENDA on Cignal TV Ch. 8/250 and Facebook.com/One News Ph.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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