For about a year, my car has been making a noise which got worse and worse. My son the shadetree mechanic said the new radial tires I bought around the time the noise began were "directional" but had been put on backwards.
Okay, I'm a girl...what do I know about tires except they have to have the proper amount of air to work efficiently?
A couple of months ago, another issue came up. In drive or reverse, the car would often just sit there and not go at all for a few minutes. Wonder Son said that was a sensor in the engine that had to reach a certain temp before it would allow the car to move. This didn't sound "right", even to this girl. I suspected it needed transmission fluid, but the owner's manual said my particular engine had a "sealed" transmission and only a dealership could add fluid. Great....
Wednesday I was at a stoplight on the other side of town, and when the light changed, the car wouldn't go forward. Cars behind me were honking. It finally did go, but it was pretty scary being stuck like that. The rest of way home, it seemed to be overheating, so maybe it was the thermostat. The odd color of the water in the radiator seemed to confirm this, so the next day I left work early to have the radiator flushed.
Well, thank God I didn't take the car to the garage closest to work! A little voice said "Take it to North Wal-Mart". So I did. Alas, they only do tires and oil changes, so what the heck, I had the oil changed, but asked Melven, the Auto Center manager, about the noise. His guys looked at this and that and determined it wasn't the tires. Then I mentioned the transmission problem, and there was no way to add fluid. A mechanic named Chris, my new Angel In Disguise, said "Oh yes, there is!", and showed me the access cap in a well-hidden spot. Hallelujah! He also told me about a place down the road that could service the transmission.
Turns out the horrendous noise wasn't the transmission, although it did need 3 quarts of fluid. The noise was a wheel bearing "this close" to freezing up...the worst that Rod, the man who owns the shop, had heard in twenty years said after a test drive. (A brave man, considering the diagnosis.) He was able to fix it that afternoon, and now the car runs like it did when I bought it (used). Maybe better.
Keep in mind it's a 7-mile drive to work each morning, mostly on open highway. I can't help but think that if I hadn't left work early yesterday to address the problems with the car, I wouldn't be here today to write this. Or I might be in an ICU. Neither an attractive outcome. I also can't help feeling blessed that Someone sent me to Chris at Wal-Mart's Auto Center, and that he literally saved my life!
So THANK YOU, Wal-Mart for having employees like Melven and Chris who took the time to help me in every way possible, and then directed me to the one place that finally diagnosed the problem correctly and fixed it!