Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Second blown clutch on 2004 Mazda3: do not buy from Dufferin Mazda!

I just received word that Dan's relatively new vehicle has blown the clutch again. He was calling from Palmerston Blvd while awaiting the tow truck. The car had zero km on it when he drove it off the lot on September 19, 2004. It is less than 3 years old, and this is the second time that the clutch has broken. Is this really normal?

Now you might think that he doesn't know how to drive a stick? (I'm sure you'd expect that if he was female.) But, he does. With his 1991 Integra, the original clutch lasted more than a decade. As did the Honda that he drove before that. And the brakes on the 2004 Mazda3 needed to be replaced after just one year, whereas the Integra held out for over 5.5 years. Sure, city driving is hard on a car, but do the parts really expire in a year? Or is this a problem with Mazda?

Dan's phone calls to the Dufferin Mazda dealership were often not returned. He also wrote letters. And in the end, they said that it was normal wear and tear, and they would not pay for it. Nor did they pay for the tow truck up to the dealership, or for the rental car that he had to rent for five days while they fixed the clutch the first time. The level of service and customer support at both Dufferin Mazda and Mazda Canada are deplorable.

Look out Mazda. Look out Dufferin Mazda. You have a new enemy.

Now you may be interested to know that Conservative MP Wajid Kahn (who crossed the floor in January 2007 from the Liberal party) is the former owner of Dufferin Mazda. And as this clever writer says: Mississauga MP (and former Dufferin Mazda dealership owner) Wajid Khan further weakened the reputation of used car salesmen by betraying Liberal voters and defecting to the Conservative party. Switching parties mid-season? How can we trust this guy? When he retires from politics, will he be back full time at the dealership, doing television ads in a jailbird suit, a la Mel Lastman?

At Dufferin Mazda's website, they have the nerve to write: We do it better, we do it for less. Do they really???

Have you had a problem with the clutch on your Mazda? Do you have service horror stories with Dufferin Mazda? If so, comment and let me know. It is time that they learn that word-of-mouth can be negative as they witness the power of online communications.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fighting Fires

As a young girl, I wanted to be an electrician, but I never wanted to be a firefighter - not until Saturday.

I was at the Upper Montrose street festival for the annual "trading of the junk" - a street-wide yard sale. I hauled a bunch of my stuff up there, in an attempt to clear some space in the basement. I sold a bunch of junk for a loony at a time. In the end, I had a pocket full of change that added up to about $50, which I was planning to use to take my father out for Father's Day.

The festivities were just beginning: make your own cupcake, the kiddie bike parade, the adult vs. children hockey game, street dance, etc. But, I had to get going to the comedy club. En route, I passed the firefighters display at the end of the street. A pair of pants were rolled down around a big pair of rubber boots, sitting on the street beside the truck. All the parents were bringing their little kids over to have their photo taken sitting in the truck. Well, since I don't have any kids, I jumped right in there myself. I stepped out of my sandals and into the boots. It took some effort to get all those layers on, which felt great on a hot and humid day. Not only hot but heavy. With all the gear, I was carrying almost an additional 100 lbs. Yikes.

The guys were great sports, and seemed like a lot of fun, but I decided that firefighting was probably not for me. I'm afraid of heights, plus I don't like shift work. So I hung up my suit and put my sandals back on, and made my way back down to Lower Montrose, where my career ambitions return to being just an electrician (or at least until I install the new light fixture that I got at the yard sale).

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Super Mom the Electrician

With freshly painted walls, all those mismatching outlets and switches were bringing down the decor on Upper Montrose. So, I went up to show Dee how to rewire them with fresh new white decora outlets. Basically, you just need to turn off the power to the circuit, unfasten the two screws, pull out the outlet, loosen the terminal screws and remove the wires. Take note which wire was connected to which terminal. You will find that each outlet can be wired in a few different ways, so my non-professional advice is to rewire it exactly the way you found it. Then you need to gently push the outlet back into the box, making sure that none of the wires pop off a terminal. The only thing that makes this job difficult is that the wire is very rigid, so it can be hard to bend it and cram all the wires back into the box, without the wires coming off. But once it is in, you just just fasten the outlet to the box with the two screws, put on a fresh new cover plate and then turn the power back on to the circuit. Use a tester to make sure that the outlet works properly and celebrate!

I was very proud of Dee. She rolled up her sleeves and gave it all she had. Some of the screws were caked in paint or had been in place for decades, making them difficult to loosen. Sometimes it took two hands, but she completed her first outlet, just in time to feed the baby. Now that's tough work. She has to feed that little guy every two or three hours. On our first night on the job, we completed the living room outlets and got started on the master bedroom, until it got too dark. So, we called it a night and put little Skittles to bed.

How does this super mom juggle a baby with an electrician apprenticeship? Slowly, but with increasing skill. And she'll have the satisfaction of knowing that she was the one who rewired the outlets herself. Or maybe she'll become my personal shopper in exchange for some handy work around the house. It remains to be seen as neither of us in a huge rush. After all, it is summer!

If you want to rewire your own outlets and need some tips, check out this article or grab a book from the library. Be careful that the power is off and remember what I learned in my high voltage class in University: most people who get electrocuted die from the fall, not from the voltage itself. So just make sure that you're on the ground, or put some pillows around to break your fall.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Painter Paints

Ally is one of my friends who can paint. Really paint - like pictures that you'd hang on the wall kinda painting. But here she is helping out our friends on Upper Montrose, painting the trim and shelves in the new living room. When she was done, the room looked fab but her hands were caked with latex paint. She kept rubbing her face, but she didn't notice. I guess that's the way that artists react to paint. They embrace it. I was painting ceilings at the time. I reacted to the paint by becoming speckled, like a rare tree toad.

It is hard to believe that I didn't have any experience painting until the past two years, when we moved into our little pink house. Of course, I had painted before, but not that much. The pink demanded that we learn to paint quickly, or hire somebody who could do it. I was prepared to hire somebody but Dan thought that we should try it out ourselves, so we did. So, he has only himself to blame for all this DYI stuff we do on weekends.

Anyway, Ally and The Duke are looking to buy their own Money Pit. Ally confided in me that she hates painting. Hopefully she either finds a place that was recently painted, or else I can give her the name of some great painters. But if she asks nicely, I'll come over and paint her ceilings, if she wants. Let's just hope that there isn't any wallpaper!!!!