Life and Loss – The Little Things – Car Service Time Without My Car Man

After 27 years I had to service my car for the first time on my own, and first, find a place to do so.

For 27 years I didn’t have to worry or think about gassing the car, oil changes, car washes, tires, or brakes. My Puppy was the car man in every sense of the world. Then that ‘service car soon for oil change’ light began flashing. Where was I to go? The last time I took my own car in for a oil change was somewhere in the era of 1995. I paid $29.99 at a Speedy Auto – 30 minutes or it’s free. Ya, those were the days!

Back in the day, just pre, my husband, we were just switching over to self-serve gas stations. Gasp, I have to put in my own gas? Gone are the days when after another human put gas in our cars, the attendant would then bring a squeegee and wipe down all our windows. And maybe, if we were lucky, they may even open up the hood of our car to make sure we had enough wiper fluid. Yes, those were the golden days and how I grew up. The sudden switch over to self-serve didn’t have me liking the advance with the times. I learned quick to stop letting my cars go down to empty before a fill, and when the gage was hitting a quarter tank left to hit the gas station on a good weather day.

So, last week I returned from the gym and when I turned off the ignition, I saw that flashing message reminding it was time for an oil change. Oye! What a dilemma. Where should I take my car now?

I made some inquiries with friends. Most gave me warnings instead of suggestions. Don’t go here or there because they’ll rip you off and try and sell you things you don’t need. One friend offered me to call the auto garage she uses and didn’t even remember how much she pays there. I called, the person who answered the phone was kind of quick and rude, ballparking me anywhere from $80 – $130. Are you kidding me?? Did I mention the last time I took my own car in I paid $29.99? Had prices gone up that much??

I thought about taking it to one of the two dealerships my husband worked for. I know for certain the first one where he worked for 48 years, they charged too much because even when my hubby worked there, he’d take my car elsewhere for certain work or pay a service guy cash to do the work on his lunch hour, and all those ‘elsewhere’s’ I remembered, were no longer around. Then I considered where he last worked up until 2020, but that was a half hour drive away. So I then proceeded to visit my friend ‘Google’.

I knew for certain there were some automotive garages in an industrial area five minutes from where I live, which is incidentally, five minutes from the first dealership my hubby worked at. I know he did business with some of these places, and picked one to call, based on the many, many, five star reviews they were rated without a complaint in the bunch. Fair, honest, great, don’t try to upsell things, were just a few of the common themed comments I’d read. Bingo!

Before calling, I had to educate myself about information I’d come across that people were now changing over traditional oil to ‘synthetic’ oil because of better performance and longevity for the engine. I wanted to learn why that price was practically double than the traditional oil, and learned it had something to do with the refining process, and that once upon a time, when oil was discarded, the automotive places got paid for discarding their oil, and now, they have to pay for discarding it.

So, I decided my best option was to call Mr. Automotive, based on the fantastic reviews, close proximity, and maybe they knew my husband?

Nikki answered the phone. I asked a few questions, and before a few minutes passed, we were laughing together like old chums. She’d asked me for the make and model of my car so she could quote me the accurate price. Yes. I learned each model of car has different engines and oil requirements. But when she asked me more about my model, my response was, bwahahahha, are you kidding me? I don’t know such particulars. We laughed, and after two call backs of her checking the possibilities, I went down to my underground to search out the extra fancy initials and numbers beside the model name of my car for her. She then called me back with the quote – at which I gasped, but after doing my research, had kind of expected. And after checking with a few friends, they’d all converted over to synthetic oil.

Nikki gave me the price and assured me that besides the oil change they’d check all my car’s vitals: fluid levels, belts, tire pressure, wipers and more. And gratefully, they filled up my wiper fluid, because I don’t even know the difference between the wiper fluid and anti-freeze compartments. The car was remedied in an hour and the report came back that my car was still in mint condition, now with converted to synthetic oil, and all vitals reported fine. I felt peace of mind about my car, and that I now had a place to take my car that I could feel secure about the service and integrity and honesty and friendly service at Mr. Automotive. Sadly, nobody there recalled knowing my husband, but I’d landed in the right place anyway.

©DGKaye2022

72 thoughts on “Life and Loss – The Little Things – Car Service Time Without My Car Man

  1. You’ve reminded me of what I felt was quite a bizarre episode with the secretaries at the hospital where I used to work. I noticed that the clock on the wall had stopped, and rather than getting somebody to change the battery, I kneeled atop the table (well, a wall desk), unhooked it, asked them where the batteries were, changed it, and put it back on its place, working again. The three of them looked at me, their eyes open wide, and told me it was evident I lived alone and didn’t have a man to fix things for me. I never have (other than when I was younger and my father was around), so I can imagine it might come as a big shock after so many years of not having to worry about such things. Well done on managing to navigate the (still) “male-dominated” world of car maintenance. Take care.

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    1. Ha! Thanks for sharing that Olga. But so true. And shows how self-sufficient you are. The others would have sat there until a maintenance man would come around to change that batter. You also reminded me about twice a year when the clocks change, that was my hubby’s job to go around and reset the clocks. So many little things we do on a daily basis can become so significant in memories. Hugs xx

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  2. Here, in India, we still have people filling up our petrol tanks thankfully and someone will still clean the front glass while you’re waiting.
    It’s scary how much we depend on our husbands… I am pretty clueless myself when it comes to so many things only because it’s being taken care of for me. I keep telling myself I need to learn but, it just doesn’t happen.
    I’m glad your car problem was solved and you have now found a service centre you can trust. X

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    1. Hi Smitha. Thanks for dropping by. And wow, interesting to know there are still parts of the world that still have personal service! Suddenly single when once depending on someone for so many years is like a rude awakening. 🙂 ❤

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      1. Hi Debbie, They provide the service in the Middle East too and I’m sure in all of S.E. Asia :). I remember my husband struggling the first time he had to fill petrol in 2007, when we traveled to Germany.
        I totally understand your situation and I find your strength and positive attitude very inspiring (I had been following your blog since some time) . May God be with you and send angels your way to help you through. Hugs.

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  3. I’m pleased you landed in the right place, Debby. I know many places do try to rip us (particulary women) off, upselling things we don’t need. I know it’s happened to me a few times, but Hub has always stepped in with the knowledge required. So far it’s worked. I know that’s how it was for you too. It’s amazing what we can take for granted. I’m so pleased you are (or your car is) in good hands.

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  4. So glad you found a good place. Servicing your car is like getting a yearly check-up at the doctor’s. Remember, “Real women pump their own gas!” I’ve been filling my own gas for so long, that I didn’t know what to do when I stopped at a full-service garage in Richmond BC. LOL.

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    1. Lol Darlene. You are so right, and often servicing is expensive, especially when women are often taken advantage of. That’s why I like to make conversation with service people to let them know from where I come and act like I know what’s involved, lol. I can’t help but wonder how long ago you found full service in B.C.? ❤

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  5. You go, Debby! It must feel so good to have this behind you and know you can handle what comes. Coincidentally, I just read a post on FB from a friend who lost her husband last year–her A/C was on the fritz and for the first time without her husband to take care of it. So she searched the internet, like you, and found a YouTube video that showed her how to fix it. You’re both strong and capable, and the universe sent you gentle reminders. ❤

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    1. Thank you so much Amy, for the vote of confidence. And yes! Youtube videos and Google are my best friends when needing to know how to fix a multitude of things. And I’m sorry for your friend. When you lose your other half, the world can suddenly become a big scary place. Hugs. ❤

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  6. So glad you found the right place to go. I remember those 29.99 oil changes too. Funny I was just listening to my husband talk about synthetic oil and the harley. I had no idea what it was but now I do! Xo

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    1. Lol Denise. Woohoo, glad I could actually pass on that tidbit of what I learned. Now go tell your hubby you now know what he’s talking about because you learned about it from a woman. Lol. Hugs xxx

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    1. Thanks so much for the kudos and the good wishes Diana. It was just another of the ‘new’ hurdles I’ve had to tackle on my own now. The things we take for granted. ❤

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  7. With research and some friends’ advice, you not only found the perfect place, you found piece of mind! I am happy for you. 🙂 Glad to here all service needs are current. What a relief for you. I think it’s important too to share stories like these where you are navigating territory your husband took care of, I really do think it’s helpful for others. xx

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    1. Thanks so much Melanie. I do share my journey through life here, and for those who may also wear ‘the shoes’, I do always hope I’m helping someone else through my experiences. It’s why I write books. Hugs ❤

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  8. I am always checking where to take my car when the oil needs changing. When it was new the dealer did the work since maintenance was included for the first 30,000 miles. Don’t feel alone when it comes to finding the right place.

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    1. Thank you so much John. It is somehow comforting to know that not just women who feel vulnerable struggle with where to take our cars. I am grateful through my research, I hit the right place first. 🙂

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  9. It is a scary feeling when those dashboard lights turn red and blinking. So glad everything turned out well!!! Asking questions saves a lot of heartache later on….

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  10. Happily hilarious until a bit of empathy kicked in. Working at a government consumer affairs office for 14 years gives me a bit of a leg up on this sort of thing. Still, who really knows with today’s cars. Shops need $3,000 computer analyzers that they plug into the car to see if any software needs updating or if any problems need fixing. Oil and fluids is the easy part! Living where you do, you have many places to choose from–TOO many. But you got through it. It will go better the next time!

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  11. Mission accomplished, Debby! There are two states in the US where one can’t fuel their own car. And where the windows are cleaned when asked and the fluids are checked (probably for a tip). One is Oregon (and I think the other New Jersey), where we have been spending most of the summer. I can tell you, it’s quite strange to not get our own gas in the US. But, then again, the same service is present in Mexico (Baja anyway, I don’t remember the mainland.).

    Im sure your Puppy was the car man in every sense of the world, as well as in every sense of the word. 🙂

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    1. He was! And thanks for bringing that to my attention Liesbet. I haven’t seen a full service in my province for years. Perhaps there may still be some lurking in other parts of Canada I don’t know about. I’m happy to bring back the old days!! ❤

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  12. Wow! What a dilemma indeed, Debby. I only know a little about cars myself. My husband is the car man. I’m going to go with him from now on and learn as much as I can. That’s the moral of the story, for me anyway. 🥰

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  13. I know so little about cars, but also enough to know where to take them for oil changes, tires, maintenance, etc, Debby. More shops are specializing these days so you could end up taking your vehicle to several different places for service. Synthetic oil is such a good product these days, and typically you don’t need to go back as often. Glad you found a great place and Puppy obviously approves!

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  14. Good idea to check for reviews, Debby. I’ve always handled car repairs and gassing up. I worry more for hubby if I go first- he doesn’t do the banking, shopping, or cooking. I think he’ll be the one with a big list of firsts! lol

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  15. It’s always a crapshoot with those things, Debby. And no matter what anyone says, I believe many of these repair places take advantage of women. I hate it when that service light comes on, and I have to decide all over again where to take it. So glad things worked out well for you! Your hubby would be proud!

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    1. Thanks Jan. Yes, us women are always vulnerable when it comes to repairs. Remember the days when there used to be a posted menu of prices on the wall? Ya. 🙂 x

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  16. Your post reminded me of everything a husband and wife team does that the other spouse doesn’t know. For example, my wife is the billpayer in the family, and I’m embarrassed about how little I know about our bills. On the other hand, I’m the one that operates some of the machinery that she wouldn’t have a clue about.

    When my dad passed, my mom suddenly had to learn how to deal with a bunch of things she’d never had to worry about before. We set up most of the bills for automatic payment, and since Mom didn’t live far away, I could run over when she needed help with something. The unfortunate part is many people don’t have a support system. You will feel much more confident about dealing with a place you trust now. By the way, $80-$130 is too much for that service. Your instincts were right.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Pete. Yes, I handled everything else from bills to investments and everything computer and digital. My husband would have been truly lost without me. But I like to think he’d have some sort of support system, whereas I have nobody. 🙂

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  17. Our UB, you tackled it and cracked it. Daunting to say the least, but you did it. We are proud of you. G is cheering you on every step of the way. We love you. ❤ xXx ❤

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  18. Glad you found a good service to use. This post reminded me of when I was 19 – my dad had just died and I was left to run the family car. Mum had never driven, and I had to learn how to be a (kind of) car mechanic… how to check the tyres and how to put water in the radiator. I also learned how to repair rust patches! x

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    1. Good for you Stevie. It’s surely good to have that under your belt. I always had help when it came to car matters. It certainly felt weird after all the years to have to think about it. ❤

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  19. Fantastic, Debby – you’re a real inspiration. I can relate to this, as getting divorced has meant I now have to do the car stuff myself – or, at least, where to take it to get the help I need. It sounds like your dear hubby was a tower of strength, and now he’s leading you to the right places. Toni x

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  20. Hi Debby – well done on getting it sorted … I’ve never struggled this way as when we were kids we were (post war) taught how most things work … but some things I know I can’t do … but anything I can, I’ll work a way round. So pleased you ended up with a delightful and helpful assistant and then a good service – cheers Hilary

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  21. it’s nice when all that research pays off. I tend to bring my car back to the dealer for most things. I know it’s a bit more expensive, but for whatever reason, I feel like it’s a place I can trust. And I still use the old school oil (at least I think I do!) 🙂

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  22. You’re a pioneer, Deb, and now you’ve added another notch to your belt! So glad you’ve found a good
    service center for your car. Trust in one’s mechanic is vital, especially when you’re at kindergarten level in automotive repairs (like me). You’ll be a pro in no time. George is heaving a grateful sigh of relief 🙂❤️

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  23. Just goes to show it’s always worth checking around before deciding who to go with.
    Must say I’m impressed though with the sort of costs you quoted – my car costs near £200 to service, and it needs doing every 10K miles, which means for me around every 6 months.

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    1. Omg, ouchie! Well the days of 29.99 CAD are gone. After my investigations, I learned it was better to switch to synthetic, which is basically double the cost of regular. So instead of 29.99 it could have been 49.99, But I paid 99.99, which would have been the equivalent to about 45 Pounds for you 🙂 x

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