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How We Ended Up With a Prius for the Weekend

Posted on August 2, 2008 by under Babies, Life.    

Brian and I have been driving around in a 2008 Toyota Prius all day. We’ve got it on loan for the weekend. It feels good to ride around town in an Earth-friendly vehicle. Brian and I are really impressed with it so far. We like it so much that we are thinking when the time comes to replace Bebot or Crichton, we are going to look at a Prius. Hopefully, they won’t be in such short supply at that point. Right now there’s a seven month long waiting list at Eddy’s Toyota. Speaking of Eddy’s…

Though this all sounds fun and great and wonderful, the story of how we ended up with a Prius as a loaner for the weekend is actually not so good. It’s a long story, but if you’ve got a moment then read on…

It all began earlier this week when I realized that I was overdue for an oil change. Well, I was overdue according to the date (Bebot was supposed to get an oil change last month) but not according to mileage. They always say come back by this date or this mileage and I had a good couple hundred miles to go before I was really overdue, technically speaking.

I asked Brian to take the car to the dealership this weekend (I had purchased a prepaid maintenance package when we bought the car from Eddy’s a couple of years ago). We figured he would drop me off at gym a little before 8 am and then head to Eddy’s for the oil change. It would take about an hour (or two, tops) depending on how busy they are today.

I did muscle pump from 8 am to 9 am and then I did (or had planned on doing) advanced step from 9 am to 10 am and then Brian and I were supposed to play racquetball from 10 am to 11 am. He showed up outside the group exercise room about a quarter till 10. He got done with the oil change in about an hour and had already gone to Wal-Mart to pick up some new balls for racquetball. All of ours were old and not so bouncy anymore. I decided to skip the rest of step class to hang out with Brian and get the low-down on how everything went, etc. After all, Bebot is my baby.

Court A, the court we had reserved, happened to be empty so we figured we might as well start playing a few minutes early. As we walked into the room (court, whatever you want to call it) Brian’s phone rang. It was someone from Eddy’s. They asked Brian to come back because the mechanic forgot to put the air filter back in.

“I had noticed that the car was idle-ing really weird when I was at Wal-Mart,” I heard Brian say. At this point, I was freaking out. I was thinking, is my car going to be okay? Will this cause any permanent damage to Bebot? The usual stuff. Brian, perhaps in an effort to calm me down, goes “Maybe if we drove without an air filter for several days it would be really bad. But right now, it’s going to be okay.” They did reassure him on the phone that it would take two seconds to put the air filter back in so we would be in and out.

We nix racquetball and head straight back to the dealership. I wanted it fixed right away. The thought of driving around in a car with no air filter is just really unsettling to me for some reason. Then it gets worse…

Bebot -- after a horrifying experience at Eddy's Toyota

When we pulled in to the dealership’s service area the hood of the car was smoking. And to think we didn’t even take the highway because I was freaking out. When the guy opened the hood, he found the cap to the oil tank just laying on the battery. I’m surprised that thing didn’t fall off. It was much, much worse than just the air filter not getting put back in. I was freaking out before, now I was livid. Oil had spewn all over the engine. Naturally, I started taking pictures. It was my first instinct because I take pictures of everything (food, places, people, you name it). I wasn’t even thinking of getting back at them or anything, I was just in disbelief. They f’d up my car! That’s really what I was thinking mainly. And, how in the heck do you let someone drive away with the car in that condition? I really did ask that question.

One of the service managers, whose name happens to be Brian also, told Brian that he couldn’t believe it either. The mechanic who had worked on my car had been working there for over a year and he probably does 30 or so oil changes a day, we were told. If this is the quality of his work, I’m really worried for us and all of their customers. Where do they find these people? Seriously. The service manager added that the mechanic is a good worker and this will probably cost him his job. Well, in my pissed off state, I was thinking he deserves it. How do you know that he hasn’t been doing sloppy work like this for the last year? We have been entrusting Bebot in their care for the last two years now, it is very discouraging to think that you can’t even trust the car dealership that you bought your car from. It totally validated Brian’s distrust for all Stevens-owned dealerships.

I figured that we were in good hands with Eddy’s. After all, mom bought her Highlander there brand new and dad bought his Corolla there brand new and they haven’t had any problems. I figured you really mostly only have to worry about shady practices of used car dealerships. You don’t really have to worry about it so much if you’re buying a brand new car. So when I bought my Corolla two years ago, it was only natural that we went to Eddy’s. We were pretty satisfied with the experience at Eddy’s (as satisfied as one can be after buying a car, I always feel raped regardless of what kind of deal I get — good or bad) that we bought Crichton (Brian’s truck) from their used lot a few months later.

The prepaid maintenance package had always been a point of contention between Brian and I, though. I (like Jan and many others) feel that it is better to get your maintenance done at the dealership because they know the ins and outs of your car. I felt like I could trust them to take care of my car better than some random mechanic who handles all sorts of cars. I was thinking that Eddy’s would be a specialist, whereas Tracy’s Automotive (where Brian takes Crichton for oil changes) is more of a generalist. Based on this argument I decided to purchase the prepaid maintenance package (they always try to sell you that stuff) as my mom and dad had done before me when they purchased their vehicles.

It had been a pretty good relationship… until now. We had been taking Bebot there every three months or so for the last two years. So when this thing happened today, Brian immediately went back to my decision to get the prepaid maintenance. “I told you not to buy that prepaid maintenance package,” he said almost like “Ha! I was right! In your face!” Not that he wanted anything bad to happen to Bebot. He was just as upset as I was, but it validated his feeling that the prepaid maintenance package is worthless. Tracy’s may not specialize in Toyotas but at least they’re trustworthy. That’s pretty much how he feels.

Anyway, I don’t know if the service manager guy freaked out because I had taken a picture of the engine or what but he asked us to leave the car there so that they could steam-clean the engine (get rid of all the oil spewn all over because supposedly it will stink to high heaven if it’s not cleaned) and put my air filter in and I suspect to check that there was no serious damage to my car. Brian asked them to put the car back to normal, in the same good condition it was in when he had driven it there earlier that morning. The service manager guy assured us that they would clean my car. He said they would not only clean the engine but thoroughly detail the car at no cost to me. He said that the detailers (hopefully they aren’t as sloppy as the mechanic who worked on the car) aren’t in until Monday so they asked to keep Bebot. In the meantime, they offered us a loaner. They asked if we wanted a Camry or a Prius. Brian and I had just finished reading an article about how the Prius is in high demand right now, so much so that these cars are actually appreciating (rather than depreciating as cars typically do) in value so we selected the Prius. It was a good opportunity to find out what the fuss is about. They guy who arranged the loaner told us about the waiting list. Brian and I were pretty excited to be able to drive a car that most people can’t even get their hands on for the weekend. That is probably the silver lining to all of this.

Suffice it to say, after riding around in the Prius all day, I’m not angry as I was this morning when he first popped Bebot’s hood open. I’m hoping that they’ll make good on their word to restore Bebot back to normal. I guess we’ll see what happens when we return to pick up my car after work on Monday.

. . .

P.S. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is some kind of elaborate ploy to get us to buy a new vehicle. Toyota Financial holds the financing for Bebot and he’s almost paid off. They’re probably thinking it’s time to get us to upgrade to another car. LOL. I’m sure that’s not the case.

The timing is right, though. Bebot can go for anywhere from $14K (trade in value) to $16K (suggested retail value) and we only owe a little over $6K (the last time we checked). That’s the nice thing about Toyotas. They hold their value pretty well relative to other cars. I’m thinking that I’ll drive Bebot for at least ten years (as I did Sunny) so I probably won’t be trading the car in anytime soon. But it’s nice to know that if I do decide to go this route I won’t be upside-down, like we were with the Rodeo when we traded it in for this car.

Maybe in 2010 when the Blue Springs, Mississippi plant begins production and the Prius’ are averaging 70-80 mpgs and the retail price goes down we can give up Crichton at that point. Maybe. We need to get out of this house first.

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