By Debbie Baldwin

While I’m generally loath to perpetuate stereotypes when it comes to women and automotive knowledge, unfortunately, I don’t do much for my gender’s cause. I mean, I’m the woman who drove around for a year with a slow leak in a tire and just kept putting air in it as needed. That being said, it stands to reason that I am at the mercy of my mechanic—the guy could tell me my car needs new phalanges and I’d fork over the $300.

So imagine my surprise when this happened: We had made it all the way to Michigan and back; and I had successfully completed most of my chauffeuring duties for Cranky, Whiny and Punch toward the end of the day last week when suddenly my car, um, complained. Bells started binging, parts started banging, there was a strange gadonk coming from under the hood and some very urgent-sounding messages were scrolling across the dashboard. The gist of the messages seemed to be stop driving this car before it blows up!

So I have the car towed to my mechanic, who basically informs me that if my car were a human, it would need an organ transplant— oh, and it doesn’t have health insurance. But he goes on to say that this should not have happened to a car this young (2007), with relatively few (60,000) miles, and that I should call Detroit. Yeah, right. Hello, Detroit? You messed up my car. The mechanic sees my incredulous look and reiterates. No, seriously, call them. They should stand behind their product.

As I looked on the website for the phone number for customer service, I imagined the avalanche of bureaucratic red tape I was about to encounter. The mind reels, but like Sisyphus preparing to push the boulder up the hill one more time, I make the call. After a brief argument with the automated answering system, a very friendly man answers the phone. Apparently, the fact that my engine fell out of my car is a point of concern for the company. He takes my information, gets my mechanic’s phone number, confirms that I have had regular oil changes (whew), and to my shock and awe, they agree. They fixed my car. So there you have it: a good old story of American industrial spirit. Who knew? Welcome to a lesson on how to keep a loyal customer.