Monday, June 29, 2009

geared for success

OK. So, I am trying to spend time out of my truck.

And I am getting all kinds of unrequested help.

When Darrel and I were driving down here, we crossed the coastal hills to San Blas from Tepic. The road was not too bad -- not when you learned to drive on rural Oregon roads. Not too steep, Not too windy.

But at least three times on that short drive, we heard an odd clunk as we went around curves. And that was before we encountered any topes.

For over two months since then, I have been driving on local roads and have not heard that sound.

That is -- until last Friday. When I was climbing the hills between La Manzanilla and Melaque, the transmission was a bit mushy shifting between gears. And then came the clunk. But this time is brought its own percussion quartet. There were clunks. Grinds. Jerks.

Fortunately, I was at the top of the rise, and the rest of the road was down hill. I was positive I was going to be stuck on that shoulderless narrow road.

I made it home without incident.

The first thing I wanted to check was the transmission fluid. And I was hoping it was simply a bit low.

No such luck. It was as normal as normal could be.

So, on Saturday, I carefully drove over to the local mechanic to have my oil changed and to discuss transmission options.

The father wasn't there, but the son was. He changed the oil, and we discussed the transmission.

He looked at the fluid level, and declared everything fine.

Asked I: "Isn't there something we could do?"

Answered he: "Why? It's still working."

There is some wisdom in the response. But it certainly flies in the face of that Northern European Protestant ethic that makes my mind work. Most of you know it well. If there is a problem (even one possibly coming your way), there must be a solution. It is why we waste so much money on insurance.

But I understand his response. It is not culture-based. It is an answer bred of limited resources.

I saw the same responses in my work with the Salvation Army. When you have just enough resources to deal with basic needs, you cannot spend time (or money) worrying what might happen.

But I do have enough resources to ward off potential problems.

I did not replace the fender trim I clipped off in my backing accident. I have not replaced the tire that I gouged when trying to park near the curb. But this is a bit different. Losing my transmission on one of these narrow roads could be more than simply inconvenient.

As much as I appreciated the son's advice, I am going to return when the dad is in. We can then talk about the future of my transmission.

When I talked about spending time out of my truck, I did not anticipate that circumstances would assist me in making my wish come true.

If I had my druthers, the SUV fairy could just holster her wand. And I would be happy.


Babs said...

The great thing in Mexico is bus transportation. They are in no way like the buses in the USA. They are comfortable, inexpensive and convenient. Oh and clean. I've traveled to Oaxaca,Chiapas, the beach and various other places by bus. It is a delightful adventure. So, maybe you'll be forced into another adventure of Mexico!

Steve Cotton said...

Babs -- I have used the local buses during vacations in the local area. I know they were not what you are writing about. But, they are, at best, utilitarian. One of these days, I will use the first class buses to travel longer distances. But they do not take dogs -- nor does the local bus. For Jiggs and Steve, buses are simply not an option.

Islagringo said...

LOL! I just knew what that kid was going to say before you typed it! Mexico does not believe in preventative maintenance. Everything is done after the fact. Good luck. I would hate to see you stuck by the side of the road, or worse.

Steve Cotton said...

Islandgringo -- I seem to be demolishing my truck piece by piece.

Anonymous said...

I never thought about the culture vs. economics reason for not doing repairs. That sounds a bit Marxist for a Libertarian.


Steve Cotton said...

Horst -- Libertarians are driven by economic models, as well. The big difference is -- our view of the world is rational.

Felipe said...

Buy a nice, new Mexican car. You can afford it. And you will be soooo happy after doing so. You will ride in style. Jiggs can be copilot. He will be sooo happy too.

And get a goodie. Don´t do what I did. First a little pissant, though new, car, real basic. Then a better one, not so basic, but still . . .

Then I went whole hog, which is what I should have done in the first place. Go whole hog.

From your description of the Escape's transmission, I would not drive around the block in it.

Darrel said...

The transmission seems to have some problems on the early Escapes. If you Google some of the Ford forums you will find complaints of transmission failure at between 40,000 and 60,000 miles. Costs seem to range around $3,000 NOB. After you talk to the Dad, you might want to stop at the Ford Dealer on you next trip to Manzanillo. They spoke pretty good English.

Croft Randle said...

One of my wiser bosses had a saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". He liked to see our hi-tech equipment treated like a doctor treats a patient and only take the cover off when absolutely necessary. Sticking fingers into it for no reason usually meant a shortened life span.

However, I agree that when it starts to clunk, grind and jerk it is time to forget this rule and dive in for a look. Like Islagringo says, it is our Northern outlook on things.

Anonymous said...

Libertarians are rational?

If rational means merely logical -- in the sense that some Libertarians are able to put together arguments that have premises from which conclusions follow using logical rules of inference -- then I will grant you your point, Sir.

But if rational is meant to include "reasonable," then I will have to object.

Libertarians are not reasonable. They a dangerously deluded group, filled with Newtonian certainty about the economic universe. In short, they operate with a sense of scientific certainty in a realm of thinking where faeries and empty theorems are equally at home.

The moral essence of this existence is not to be found in our spinning of economic theories, but, rather, in our heartbeat response to human suffering.

Rid the world of all philosophers and our days would move along as before, not missing a single beat or bird's song.


PS: Yes, I know, this outburst is an ad hominem abusive, but something in the nature of Libertarian thinking just calls out for it.

Anonymous said...

hi steve,

hadn't read the blog since last thursday so i just got caught up. i am so happy to see that you are out using your spanish and that jiggs is doing so well-that is just wonderful!

well, i am having a great time on my vacation. my friend and i are spending 6 days at the daytona beach hilton-the place is gorgeous and is conveniently located on the boardwalk, near the pier and lots of shops and restaurants. i've been keeping up with my 3 day training-yesterday i walked for almost 3 1/2 hours. this area is great. it's the first place during this trip that i have not had to use mosquito repellant. i overdid staying out in the sun yesterday so today i am going to relax, read and go to a movie later on.

hope you and jiggs continue to have happy days!

good luck with the transmission.


1st Mate said...

Steve - I've been on the road you're talking about and I agree, you do not want to get transmission trouble there. If Mecanico Senior isn't helpful, I'd get a third opinion elsewhere.

garydenness said...

And your success has been recognised!

Constantino said...

Welcome to the land of opportunities! The first being you experiencing what would be fairly easy to remedy by just tossing some cash to NOB, here it will be a lesson.
First of all, if you can get a price from the dealer for the repair, second be sure and get references from some trusted voices on a mechanic who actually can do transmission work.
They all say they can, but you could be opening up a can of gusanos which may start an experience you may remember for a long time.
I have had both great and awful experiences with mechanics down here. Not because they are dishonest ( some are ) but because the level of acceptable repairs is different from that of the US.
They learn to "make do" and a fix for them is something that for you and I would just be a temporary patch job.
Like Felepe says, you would be miles ahead if you would simply buy yourself a new vehicle, because with that comes expectations that you will have reliable transportation for many years to come. After all, you don't want to be stuck on the side of the road? For you and I it is a major inconvenience, for them is a fact of life and not a big deal.
Stories of mechanics switching or removing parts, etc, are true, especially to the well trusting soul. I have experienced it myself,as well as Mexican friends and neighbors, so it is not just a thing they do to gringos.
I know the feeling having transportation that "may" break down, and it is not something that we are particularly use to, so a nice new Honda SUV, may be just what you need to make both you and Jiggs happy!

Joe S. said...

Steve I'd love to know if buying & licensing a car in Mexico would be rather straight forward or "other". I know, another of my pure utility questions.
But I'm not retired yet even though I hit your retirement age target last Saturday.

Steve Cotton said...

Felipe -- I have the same concerns you had before buying your last car: is this the time to invade savings? And then there is the "car across the border" issue. I still need to get the Escape out of Mexico for duty purposes, or pay the duty. I cannot natoinalize it for another year and a half.

Darrel -- The internet seems to be rife with 2001 Escape transmission issues. Manzanillo may be the answer -- if I can get it to the dealer. That is an hour away.

Croft -- I think I have enough data now to conclude that I have a problem. The only question is taking it to the dealer in Manzanillo or leaving it with a local mechanic.

John -- It was a throw-away line. You know, my P.J. O'Rourke bit. I once thought it was libertarians who did not have a sense of humor. I may have to widen my net.

Teresa -- I do not want to overblow my use of Spanish. The fact that I feel comfortable exploring with it is not an indication that I am am even close to being understood. But I am trying.

1st Mate -- One way or another, we will get this fixed. I may need to follow up with your towing lessons.

Gary -- Thank you. Now, I need to find three recipients to pick up the lemons.

Constantino -- My Spanish teacher recommended the mechanic I planned on using. Apparently, he has a great reputation in the local area. (And I hope that is not a variation on the old Mel Brooks line: "World famous in Poland.")

Joe -- I have read enough to know that buying and licensing a car in Mexico is not a problem -- well, not any more of a problem than dealing with government is down here. However, I have a complication. I brought a vehicle across the border duty-free. That vehicle must go back across the border or it must be nationalized. I am not certain how I will accomplish that. Perhaps, a repair is in order to keep the truck going for another 18 months.

glorv1 said...

Steve, I'll send my husband over there. He's a diagnostic technician. Oh be he is Toyota and your Ford. He would still be able to tell you what is wrong with your car. That's how good he is. Drive safely. :)

Anonymous said...

at least you are trying-that's what counts.

waiting for a torrential downpour to pass. hopefully it will clear up so we can hit the beach soon.