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HANDY MAC: Check all costs

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Always get a second opinion on repairs to cars or anything else that is likely to prove expensive

Every once in a while you have a stroke of luck. Mrs Mac had decreed that last Saturday was a clean-out-the-garage day. This is an exercise I have never understood, but I agreed as dissent in the ranks is not allowed.

Part of the exercise was to spend a little time cleaning up my old Merc ML430 which is used for trips to the dump, recycling and fetching compost. We are going to a farm this weekend with the family, so the 4×4 will be great for exploring.

The old 430 has a great engine – only just run in at 275 000km – but the bodywork needs attention and there are leaks around the windscreen. The last major leak cost me R15 000 for a new gear box selector and, after the recent rains, I got in this morning to find the gearbox jammed again.

My heart dropped, but enter Zahir, our company mechanic, who I had summoned to help. “Hold on, Don,” he said. “I have a theory that everything is just a bit damp. Let’s check the switch on the brake linkage that must be engaged for the automatic gearbox to work.”

He got past all the Merc barriers, instructed me to fetch Mrs Mac’s hair dryer, dried the linkage and, five minutes later, we were fully operational.

This prompts the question: How often are we ripped off for motor repairs, especially on vehicles that are not covered by some type of plan? Did I really need to pay R15 000 the last time I had repairs done?

Furthermore, as my neighbour, who has a long history in the motor spares game, pointed out as we were finishing off, do we really know that the old parts mechanics leave in our cars to show us what was done are really our old parts?

So, once again, get a second opinion on anything that is going to cost you a bit of cash


Tip of the week

Picture: Supplied

We have been talking about floor finishes recently. Our company has just had a nasty experience when a cleaning company we use when finishing off contracts accidentally spilt chemicals on to our client’s newly-installed, engineered timber floors.

Thank heavens for insurance, but there is a moral to this story. During the on-site investigations the manager of the cleaning company asked the flooring company what would have happened if someone had spilt wine on the floor.

“Oh,” said the representative of the flooring company, “the floor would have been stained.” This is the third instance I know of where an expensive timber floor has been damaged by cleaning materials.

The next time Mrs Mac suggests we change flooring, I am going to the showroom armed with a bottle of red wine (any excuse), and other things that might stain the floor, and demand that I be allowed to test it.

However, in fairness, there are many types of flooring where the manufacturer or installer insist products must be sealed and treated before they are even laid – this applies particularly to certain kinds of porous tiles.

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