I will try to make this quick (hah!).

Last week in March of this year (old, I know; I’ve been avoiding writing this for a long time now) my mom and I took my car in to repair three things: wheel bearing on the front driver side needed fixing (thank you to the body repair shop that told us what the squealing sound was! My family and I had been trying to solve that since late 2006!!); steering wheel needed straightening (result of an accident from early in my driving career); and oil needed changing.

Mum called Carmax in Inglewood but after waiting on hold for a number of minutes, she was told to hang up and try again. She didn’t want to hang up, so she stayed on the line, and they disconnected her. (I’ve complained about Carmax’s phone system before, haven’t I?) She called back and got connected with a manager, whom she proceeded to tell that she wanted to bring her car in for service but because the phone system sucks she’s taking her business elsewhere.

That’s how we ended up going to (Walker?) Buerge Chrysler. She called them up and asked if they’d service a Dodge and they said yes. So we spent spring break of ’08 driving up to Santa Monica four times. Why four? Let me tell you!

My mom explained to the service writer what we needed, an oil change, the steering wheel re-aligned, and the wheel bearing looked at, because it was producing a squealing sound randomly at speeds above 35 mph. The service writer said sure, yes, they’ll fix it, and we were on our merry way.

Later, I don’t know if it was the same day or not, Mum got a call from the service department, and the person on the line told her that the brake pads on my car needed to be replaced, did we want to replace them? Mum said sure, and I went along with it ’cause hey, they know what they’re doing, right?

So we went to pick up my car, but not one block away from the dealership and I hear the squealing sound coming from the tire again! Told Mum once I got home, so she called and explained that it was the wheel bearing that needed looking at, not the brakes. We took the car in again and it was at the dealership for the rest of the week. The problem was fixed, finally, but …

Mickey said that he wasn’t so sure that my brake pads needed replacing, because he’d looked at them late summer in 2006 and there was still 6 millimeters left, and this was at 30,000 miles. (Yes, my original brake pads lasted almost 6 years. Told you I drove like a grandmother. :P) The other mechanics at Mickey’s job thought that my brake pads would probably last another 30,000 miles. And yet, Walker Buerge claimed that my brake pads were down to only 2 millimeters and should be replaced. I’d probably only gone about 45,000 miles by then.

It’s been a while since this happened. I know my memory isn’t that clear, but I somehow think that they thought my brakes were the cause of the squealing, and not the wheel bearing, like we said. I don’t know if they even looked at the wheel bearing the first time, or if they just thought, ‘hey, they’re women, we’ll just replace the brake pads since they probably don’t even know how to spell wheel bearing!’ (Then again, the mechanic[s] never saw either of us, so that’s probably just my overactive imagination.)

Who knows? Maybe the problem isn’t with the people doing the repairs. Maybe it was the service writer who didn’t write down wheel bearing when we suggested it as a probable cause. But then that’s still a problem that we’ve had with Walker-Buerge. Now we don’t know where to go next.

(Note: this is not a commentary on the sales department of Walker-Buerge. My grandfather bought a truck there. He didn’t complain to me about them. I haven’t heard any complaints about the Ford side of the service department from him or my dad. Maybe it’s just the Chrysler/Jeep side that has a problem. Maybe it’s just plain Chrysler that has a problem. But then Cole Dodge was really nice and really helpful and really efficient. Maybe I should stay in SLO until I buy my Mazda3…)

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