Busy, Busy, Busy...

So to start out this week, (1am on a Saturday night / Sunday morning is the START of the week isn't it?) I get a call from my wife about her car not starting. She tells me that the alarm on it is making a funny noise. Wonderful. I need to drive downtown (20 miles) to pick her up and get the car started.

At least the car problem wasn't that serious. Battery terminals are corroded so after trying to clean them there, I just jumpstart the car (being good midwesterner I have jumper cables in the back of my car all of the time) and drive it home. She follows in the other car.

Of course, the other car, err, SUV has had issues of its own lately. I've got a nice whine that sounds like its a pump or something going out. That's not that much of a concern at that moment. What does turn into a concern is the check engine light that comes on while she's driving back. She'd been seeing intermittant flashing of the O/D off light even though she's not turning off the overdrive. Okay... look that one up in the manual. Ahh... "Possible tranmission issue. Please have it serviced immediately." Transmissions are not something I like to play with. Of course I'm not going to deal with it at 2am on Sunday morning.

Next morning, I need to fix the battery issue with my first car. Little bit of baking soda, a toothbrush and a battery terminal wire brush fix that problem.

Can't call car dealers on Sunday 'cause they're not open. Must be some old law saying that selling cars is imorral, right along with liquor stores. Go figure.

So I can't work on the car problem so I spend the rest of the day doing housework (Mowing lawn, etc.) along with doing work on my boat to move the trolling motor battery from the bow where it is in the way, back to the stern where it should be along with the same gas tank, starting battery and oil tank. That only takes a couple of hours.

Monday rolls around. Drive into the office for the district meeting with the check engine light still on and worrying that the trannie is going to destroy itself on the drive down. Make a call to the dealer. I still have the remainer of the warranty so this shouldn't be a problem.

Drop the car off, get a rental. Go back to office. 'couple of hours later I get a call from dealer saying that the is a Torque converter slippage code being spit out by the engine. They'll need my authorization to tear apart the trannie to find the part and look at it. Sure, no problem. Oh, by the way, the dealer informs me, you were supposed to have the trannie serviced at 30,000 and 60,000 miles. They don't have a record that this was done so unless I can provide some reciepts saying that it was done by someone else the extended warranty folks will likely NOT pay for the repair.

Huh? Where was that documented? (Documentation is a good thing.)

Go dig through the car's recommended maintenance schedule from the manufacturer's website. No mention of the trannie being touched until 150,000 miles? Download the PDF of the maintenance schedule from my handbook. Mentions at 30,000 miles, and I quote:

"Change automatic transmission/transaxle fluid on all vehicles equipped with AX4S, 4F50N, 
4R100, 4F27E. Inspect automatic transmission fluid level on all other vehicles, if equipped
with dipstick. Consult your dealer for your particular requirements."

What the heck is a AX4S, 4F50N, 4R100, or 4F27E?

I do some more digging around and I find a maintenance record from 30,205 miles when I had it in to be worked on for something else. Gee... no mention of them ever recommending that the trannie be serviced at that time! I figure its kinda resonable to assume that since up until that point I had been having them change the oil every 5000 miles as well as do all of the work. Something is fishy here.

Call back and talk with service manager to tell them what I've found. Oh? Service manager says that she looked into it a bit more and my car has a G4SE (or something like that) transmission that is treated more like a manual trannie and thus doesn't need to be serviced every 30,000 miles. She'll get the extended warranty people to pay for it.

I wonder how many times people haven't argued something like this?

Today the car is still in the shop. Maybe it'll be done tomorrow.


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Phil is an Area Technical Engineer in the Central Area of Oracle's Field Service in North America. He has 15 years of experience supporting Sun's entire product line.


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