Piston Broke – The Story Of My Life

Many of you have been sending cards, flowers and even boxes of African spitting scorpions in the wake of the brutal murder of my beloved Hyundai.

Thank you for your condolences, but that’s enough now.

For those with benzodiazepine addictions, let me refresh your impaired memory. Two months ago I took my car to the tyre experts in Fish Hoek to have my wheels balanced ahead of an urgent trip to Durban. They offered to service it as well. Having been repeatedly dropped on my head as a child, I accepted.

To cut a long journey short, the engine blew up before I had even reached the N2.

An industry specialist (not a relative) subsequently found that if the garage had done its job properly, this tragedy could have been averted.

President Zuma is partly responsible for what happened next. He is our role model when it comes to the rejection of culpability under any circumstances and he set the bar pretty damn high in 2009. Or low.

Never underestimate the power of denial. It wozzen me. I didden do it. You godda problem? Squeak to my lawyer.

Many of our citizens continue to follow his example.

And so began the deplorable process of making members of the legal fraternity even wealthier than they already are.

A couple of weeks ago, the people who killed my car – through acts of omission rather than commission – visited the corpse. To help with the postmortem they took along representatives of the Retail Motor Industry organisation, a shadowy body seemingly tasked with protecting its members at all costs, no matter how supakak they may be.

Now I know in certain circles it is considered impolite, if not imprudent, to speak in the media of matters which loiter in the dark and dangerous alleys leading to litigation, but I am a simple man and I cannot help myself.

I received the RMI report a few days ago. It was written by one Deon Rademeyer of Consumer Affairs and featured raunchy close-up photographs of hot, oily parts. It was my first encounter with auto eroticism.

Swollen pistons nudged up against head gaskets worn out from being blown. There were rings that could no longer perform and seepage through seals that should have been tight. This was an engine begging for a damn good seeing to.

The back of my neck prickled with sweat and, knees trembling, I had to turn away for fear of losing control.

Rademeyer suggests my car had a pre-existing condition and that the garage is not to blame.

Let us now skip to the part where I am cruelly exposed by one of the most brilliant minds in the automobile industry.

Rademeyer, in his conclusion: “It is also the opinion of this office that the customer was blissfully aware that the engine of the vehicle in question was coming to the end of its serviceable life and through devious designs are attempting to economically enrich themselves by receiving repairs at the expense of the dealer.”

Curses! Foiled again! Outwitted by our very own Inspector Clouseau, I have no choice but to hang my head in shame and admit everything.

Here, then, is my confession in full.

It was on a Tuesday morning in late February that I awoke in a state of blissful awareness. My wife, Brenda, said I could forget about rumpy pumpy, if that’s what I had in mind. It wasn’t.

Instead, I had a vision of my car’s engine, its breathing shallow and laboured, begging for a priest as it approached the end of its serviceable life.

How else could I have known it was on its last legs if not through a dream? After all, I only recently learnt how to open the bonnet.

In fact I am ashamed, as a man, to say I did not know engines even had lives that could end without warning.

My car was running fine until I took it to the garage, whereupon the poor bastard suffered some kind of massive mechanical heart attack within minutes of being serviced.

Perhaps it was the stress of having its brake pads changed.

As for the rest of his brilliant summation, Rademeyer nailed me as good as Pontius Pilate’s men nailed Jesus.

Through devious designs, I are attempting to economically enrich myselves by receiving repairs at the expense of the dealer.

Warned in a nocturnal premonition that my car’s engine was in the twilight of its life, I reckoned there had to be a way of keeping it going for another 50 years without spending any of my own money.

First, I had to find a garage that would be so negligent in servicing the vehicle that they would completely fail to notice that anything was seriously amiss. This was a bit of a gamble because a surprising number of mechanics are trained to pick up signs of imminent engine failure.

Not these ones, though. They charged me R6 000 for the service and said the car would make it to Durban and back, no problem. You might want to replace the camshaft chain when you return, otherwise you’re good to go. Have a nice trip, they said.

My nefarious plan was working. I packed the dying Hyundai full of suitcases and beer, to make the scam look legit, then drove off knowing that even if I broke down outside Mthatha and had to push the car back to Cape Town, it would have been worth it to economically enrich myself through free repairs from a garage owner who would hopefully be racked with guilt.

This is where it all went pear-shaped. He wasn’t racked with anything remotely approximating guilt and it wasn’t long before he had his super sleuth cronies over at the RMI expose me for the devious crook that I am.

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to court we go.

3 thoughts on “Piston Broke – The Story Of My Life

  1. Hylton says:

    I don’t know if you still have all the bits, but if you do, why don’t you ask Car Magazine if Jake Venter can’t maybe take a look. He is a bit of a guru with this kind of thing.

  2. Jo Wake says:

    Not being as clever as either you or Gary, my response is bloody garages and bloody lawyers. I do hope you get it all sorted out.

  3. Gary Gilbert says:

    Trovato, you are hoist by your own panga. Your scenario for personal enrichment does sound outlandishly devious, it is true. But then, by your own repeated admission, you are nothing if not the most devious curmudgeon south of Rietvlei. Rademeyer sounds a perfectly upstanding, albeit grammatically-challenged, member of his profession (one of the oldest, if not the oldest professions, post-Cro-magnon, I assert). So you had some beer in your banger? Nice detail, Bro. But then you and Brenda could have seen those off, quick-time, while they were still cold, and probably did. Time to face the boeremusiek my friend.

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