A Mysterious Repair

Mar 27, 2006

RAY: This puzzler was sent in a long time ago. I don't remember the name of the person who sent it in. I'm sure he's either stopped listening, is dead, or both.

TOM: If not, he can sue us.

RAY: Here it is:

'Being a bankruptcy attorney, the one thing all my clients have in common is that they're all broke. Hence I'm still driving a 1993 Honda Civic with 185,000 miles on it.

'It needed tires, so I took it to the local tire shop, where in addition to the four new tires, they gave me a long list of other repairs that my car was desperately in need of. I decided, however, to entrust the repairs to my local Honda dealership, so I dropped it off the next morning.

'When I returned to pick up my car, the cashier handed me the bill for the repairs, and I began to look it over like any good lawyer would. The very first thing I noticed was that the dealer had replaced something that I did not ask to be replaced. And it certainly wasn't on the list from the tire shop. When I dropped off the car, I never said anything that would have led the dealer to believe that this item was in need of replacement. And he never mentioned replacing it. It was never discussed.

''I'll sue them!' I thought. 'They don't know who they're messing with!' Then I noticed he hadn't charged me for the replacement. When my blood pressure returned to normal, I realized why he had replaced something I did not ask to be replaced.'

The question is, what did the dealer do?

I'll give a hint. It was not a safety recall or any thing of that nature. But, in fact, he gave me a new part, and it was something that needed to be done. If he hadn't done this, it would have made the other repairs rather difficult.
RAY: I mentioned that it was not a safety recall or a service campaign, or anything like that. And it was a new part, and it had to be done. Not doing it would have made their work very difficult. What did they do?

They couldn't find the key to the car because he had put it in his pocket. The answer is, they made a new key, and didn't charge him for it because they assumed they had lost it.

He got a new key, and he was happy because his other key in fact was bent after 183,000 miles. It certainly was a replacement that had to be done before any of the other repairs.

Do we have a winner?

TOM: We do. It's Ursula Stanley from Williamstown, Vermont. And for having her answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Ursula gets a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at cartalk.com, with which she can get our women's only Car Talk T-shirt.

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