Jef’s dad likes to say, “Never let ’em look under the hood.”
$1k later, I understand why.
Actually, none of the work that was done on Gypsy today was under the hood, but the idea still applies. The day started out innocently enough. I had planned to get a pair of new tires for Gypsy and have her front wheels aligned before heading up to San Francisco. The front tires were wearing unevenly, to the point where the inside edge was almost bald, and the outside edge still had plenty of tread left. I didn’t want to tempt fate by putting another 385 miles on them.
Internet strangers seem to agree that one should spend extra money on things that separate one from the ground—mattresses, shoes, and tires. Since I’m a believer in the mattresses and shoes part, I figure they’re probably right about the tires part, too. I bought a pair of Michelin tires from the extra-friendly folks at America’s Tire Co. Seeing as I’m constantly running over screws and nails (I’m half convinced that either I or my tires are magnetic), I also purchased their extra-super-duper-tire-fixing-or-replacement-warranty-certificate. $500 total. Poof!
America’s Tire Co. doesn’t do alignment, so I tried taking Gypsy to a place in Glendale that had good reviews on Yelp. And that’s when the my day took a turn. Most inconveniently, Gypsy is now too tall to fit in most garages. My heart sank as the owner of Perfect Auto shook his head, and I kicked myself for not getting the wheels aligned before having the high top installed. I tried Just Tires, around the corner. Nope. Western Tire in Burbank? Nope.
Several phone calls later, B & I Frame in Burbank said that Gypsy would fit, without a doubt. Yippee! Gypsy sailed right in to their garage without any problems. Jef and I left her there and grabbed lunch at a hot dog stand down the street. Little did we know, we would spend most of the day there.
Looking under the hood, so to speak, the lovely gentleman at B & I Frame discovered that Gypsy needed a new pitman arm and a new idler arm. He said that he couldn’t do the alignment without replacing those parts, and that replacing those parts would also correct the play in the steering. AHA! I knew something was wrong with the steering! Somehow, Jef and I convinced ourselves that the odd steering was normal. After a month of driving Gypsy around, we’d both gotten very used to it.
I briefly considered doing the repair myself, but decided that since I’d never even heard of a pitman arm or idler arm—and since steering is a rather huge safety issue—I decided to let the pros handle it. Another $500. Poof!
We seemed to be on a roll. I had already pushed the drive up to San Francisco to tomorrow, so why not call around to see if someone could remove the rear A/C? I explained what I needed to a local shop, and got a quote for… yep, $500. It was a little more than I could stomach for one day, so I decided to hole up at home and recover from the day’s unexpected shopping spree.
I’m glad to have all these issues taken care of, especially because driving an unsafe vehicle is, well, unsafe. It’s much better to spend the money now and simply cringe at the expense, than to forgo repairs, cause a huge accident, and cringe while recovering in the hospital.
Gypsy, you are an expensive hobby. But when this is all over (if it’s ever over), you’ll be the safest, most well-maintained, van-house there ever was.