The truth is in a pothole
STANDING START - Lord Seno (The Freeman) - August 10, 2020 - 12:00am

What’s the worst enemy of your car wheels other than our poorly maintained roads? Bad suspension maintenance, bad wheel alignment and procrastination. This is a serious issue because it could create safety hazards and impact to a lot of things like gas mileage, tire life, even your life.

A guy who doesn’t want to be named sent me a query through email about the new tires of his car that unusually didn’t last very long and a quack mechanic that added to the bill. Let’s just call him Ed. 

Ed had trouble with his car just last March right when the quarantine started. He said that he heard noises in the front underside of his car last December. He knew there was something loose under but had delayed the repair. 

He said he procrastinated in having it fixed as the sound was “bearable” and that was still recovering from the pain of buying a set of new tires.

Ed, who lives in Naga City, Cebu, kept on using his car until on March 28. On his way to work, one of the car’s ball joints failed, popping out of its holder and leaving him stranded on the side of the highway. He said he was fortunate that a tow/loader truck was still available just before the ECQ but was unlucky he wasn’t able to have it fixed.

Ed then said that a neighborhood mechanic suggested to him that the steering ball joints be “repacked”and the shock absorbers “overhauled”. Without any choice left during the quarantine, he agreed that the friendly mechanic do the work.

After the repair, Ed was quite happy as his car was again back in service. He said he was quite impressed with how it turned out. No more noises in the front underside for a fee that couldn’t break Tito’s monthly salary.

But he noticed something during the GCQ when everybody started going back to the “not so normal” normal. On his way to work, he noticed that during medium speeds, his car would wander, veering slightly to the left or to the right. He went to a gas station and had his tire pressures checked, but to no avail.

Ed also noticed that his car’s suspension was a little bit stiffer than normal and that it had a disturbing sound every time he would go through a bump on the road.

He reported this to his friendly mechanic who just said, “bago pa man na, gahi pa ang ball joint. Mo straight ra unya na dagan ma break-in nana.” (Ball joints are still newly repaired, it will just run straight after break-in).

Ed continued using his car until it developed vibrations in the steering wheel. That was when Mr. Langay/Procrastinator (I did not coin him that, he did in his email) went to the service center. 

He soon found out that his car’s ball joints were badly repacked and that movement was inconsistent (think of bad ankles while running). The qualified mechanic also discovered that the friendly guy (not a mechanic anymore) installed a rubber stopper in the busted shock absorbers thinking that it would help in holding up some up and down suspension action. To make things worse, the car’s steering was not even aligned, causing the veer action to the side.

Noises will warn you about displaced wheels and due parts. So, you should pay attention especially when you hit a pothole. In Ed’s case, the procrastination was a key factor. Now he has to spend for two busted tires in the front, not to mention, other steering parts that wasn’t part of the list if he had not allowed the quack to touch it. This leaves us with one very unhappy Tito.

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