I haven’t written anything in a while. Life happens. But that should actually be fodder for articles on this blog?

So my car was sort of acting up. Also there was the issue of the front bumper that had almost fallen off (a couple of accidents – none was my fault I am happy to report) and the big dent in the rear bumper. I also had a close shave a few days prior when my car stopped on the Ikoyi bridge at about 11:30PM at night (below is the mail I sent to the repair shop I assumed was responsible for the issue). The mail prompted a call from the manager. After that I didn’t drive the car for some days until the manager sent a team out to my house 2 days later to check it out and declared it was OK.

Good day Sirs,
I am writing because I believe the issues I faced yesterday is very likely related to the assessment I had done at your workshop a few days ago.

I had no issues with the car apart from the front and rear bumper for which I sent it to your office for an assessment. I had also asked for a “service” assessment and quote.

The same day the car came back, when I left for home, I hadn’t moved about 300feet when the battery and oil indicator lights came on. I stopped and together with a driver that was with me, we looked at the battery terminals and didn’t really see anything that was the matter. Both lights blinked a little and after about a minute or two went off. I thought it might have been something transient especially due to the trip to your office and the assessment. I went out on Tuesday but didn’t go out on Wednesday at all.

I drove the car to the office yesterday morning (V/I to Ikoyi). I was in the office all day. Then yesterday evening I left my office in NNPC building at around 11PM in Ikoyi and just as I crested the bridge to V/I (about 500m from the office) the oil indicator light came on, the car made a very loud metallic rattling noise as if something was loose in the engine and stopped completely.

I opened the bonnet, and I could not believe that not a drop of oil was in the car. It was so dry there was nothing on the rod. I had to walk all the way across the bridge well into V/I before I got a commercial taxi-driver I used sometimes on the phone to come and pick me up.

You can imagine the uphill task I faced. I was finally able to get home, get a gallon of oil and return to the bridge.

Fortunately, the car started and I made it slowly home around 1AM.

I called your line and even sent an SMS and no response. Not even a call today.

I know I asked for a service assessment and a quote. I now wonder if someone drained the oil thinking the car was there for service. As I said, I find it strange that the first indication of trouble happened the same day the car was at your workshop. Prior to that visit I had no issues with the car.

I do not know if the engine has knocked partially now or not.

I have had the car for close to 3 years and have not had any reason to worry about driving it until now. 

The reason I sent the car to your workshop was because of the “xxxxxxxxxx” brand. I think you should investigate and find out what likely happened. 

I used a Taxi today because until I know the state of the car for sure, I do not want to risk being stuck in a strange place with a completely broken down vehicle.

I look forward to your response. Thank you.

Best Regards,

I decided I was going to carry out a full service (which was due anyway) to put my mind at rest as to the state of the car. I kept imagining I was hearing strange noises (some of them were real of course) and the AC basically stopped cooling. A prayer (and sweat under the midday Sun) took it all the way to Ladipo. I got lost several times and finally gave up, called the mechanic and told him exactly where I was around Oshodi and asked him to come get me. Before that he had been trying to give me directions unsuccessfully over the phone (I actually ended up in Ikeja GRA before making a u-turn and heading back to Oshodi)

As to the issues with the car, I have tried a so-called Toyota certified shop and the AC repair was approached almost the same unscientific way as the typical road-side mechanic would have done (“We will change your condenser first. If it still doesn’t fix the issue then we will have to change your compressor”). I allowed them to charge me an arm and a leg for the condenser. “Toyota original” which of course didn’t fix the issue. Also the car drifted to the right. The wheel balancing and alignment they carried out (“suspect” because I was watching the electronic machine along with the chap working it and for a tyre or two I suspected he gave up when he couldn’t get the thing to read zero or was it 10-10 and claimed it was “balanced”) didn’t fix the right-drift either. This was despite the fact that they kept the car for two full days and when I say full, I mean as in retrieving the car around 7PM on the second day (did I mention I was there for both days as well). The blog entry on the “torn jeans” earlier was based on my second trip to the place to get the car.

They told me to bring the car back but I had had enough.

So anyways, same as the Toyota place, this new chap was recommended by another friend/colleague. The mechanic is named Friday. Understood he used to work for Elizade or Briscoe before setting up shop for himself. His workshop was a fenced compound in Ladipo (Okesanya street) with several mechanics working out of the place.

I had a litany of issues I wanted him to take a look at. Actually more like I wanted an overhaul of the car (extensive service). Of course other issues were discovered as the car was being taken apart. The compressor which had started to make noise a while back had to be replaced, the front bumper was replaced (it survived an initial scrape with another car, but gave up after a commercial bike and his passenger had a close encounter of the “thank God you are OK” kind with it). The suspenders were bad, the brake calipers were serviced, the brake pads replaced, and so on. Well I am thinking of getting a front protector for it. Fed up of other people running into me. I think having both a front and rear protector would make the car too “long” especially with the tight spaces we have to park in Lagos (Hey! This is not America where the parking lots are like football fields 🙂

I took the car there on Thursday. But the mechanic was busy with another fellow’s car. Though he told his boys to start working on the car, but I didn’t pressure him too much because I wanted him to keep an eye on things (I decided not to make any issues of the fact that the boys were taking it slow because it may be a sign that they need directions from the boss). I spent the whole of Thursday and Friday there. Had some adventure taking commercial bike rides to Mushin coupled with bus rides from Mushin to CMS to Victoria Island. Something I hadn’t done in ages. Felt strange and alive at the same time. Having to struggle for a seat at CMS got my blood pumping a little faster than usual. Between Mushin and the workshop, I just drifted into the biking thing. The trick is to remain “loose” behind the rider so as he navigated the million potholes and ditches in the road, you just sort of roll (actually go up and down) with the ride. It was fun actually. On Friday, along the way from Mushin to the workshop, the rider stopped where several of his colleagues had gathered and we learnt that the previous area commander (police?) had instructed his men to only arrest riders operating on the expressways. But it seems the powers-that-be had arranged for his quick transfer out. His replacement then allowed the police to catch the riders on even the side roads and residential areas. One of them had been dispossessed of his bike a few hours before. The rider complained to me that riding the bike commercially is not the best business to engage in, and in addition to the daily risk of accidents, now they have to put up with the harassment of the police force.

I didn’t go on Saturday. Went apartment-hunting instead. Found one in particular but the asking price is almost daylight robbery (people say the price of accommodation in Lagos has been too artificially inflated and that it will crash soon – but the soon never seems to arrive eh?). Tiring stuff. By the way, a friend is looking for a housemate to share a 4bedroom apartment close to VGC.

The mechanic called me about 8PM on Saturday to tell me they had finished the repairs. I had been in touch with him during the day, but didn’t hear call back for updates since I assumed correctly I am sure he would call if they had finished earlier. But they don’t work on Sundays so the earliest I could get the car was on Monday. What about the wheel balancing and alignment? To be done on Monday morning. I will go for the car in the afternoon.

Though it’s not like I go to a lot of places everyday, but not having a car discouraged me completely from taking any trips that weren’t absolutely necessary. I sometime wonder how I did it for 10 years in Lagos.

It would be nice to be “mobile” again.