22 September 2006


When we bought our Ford Fiesta I knew that even though it had low miles and was in very good condition it would require some work just due the fact it is nine years old. One of the items I knew would be an issue - the tires; they had good tread depth but showed signs of age: cracking in the tread and sidewalls. On the autostrada at high speeds I noticed some vibration with braking and after some internet searching I thought the tires would be the culprit.

In the past week I also noticed that the CV boot on the left front had recently torn, not sure how I did that, and would need to be replaced. Something that needed attention but did not make the vehicle unusable.

We did not know of any reliable meccanico and our friend Giorgio in Anzio freely admitted his knowledge of vehicles is limited at best, his expertise is food. We were very fortunate to learn that our new landlord here in Ascoli, Guerrino, likes old cars as he has a Fiat 500 and Alfa Romeo Spider – both are over 30 years old. Here is a man who knows about cars. When we explained with limited Italian and hand gestures the issues with our car Guerrino offered to take us to his meccanico. He was clear in explaining that we will have to go to one location for the meccanico and another for the gomme (tires), and that those outside of the centro are less expensive.

Wednesday we drove outside of the centro to his meccanico, who is located in the ground floor commercial area of an apartment building. The first thing the meccanico noticed was the tires and said they should be replaced first, then he would look at the vibration and CV boot. So off we went a little farther out of town to the gomme negozio.

The inside of this tire store looked just like a ‘Big O’ or Firestone store in Albuquerque with alloy wheels and tire displays lining the waiting room and glass walls showing the large bay areas where the tire work was being done. There were two differences in the Italian stores that stood out to us: first there were no vending machines just a self-serve espresso maker (offering free Illy coffee); and second, this facility was spotless in both the customer and work areas. With our new tires we headed out onto the autostrada for a quick test drive and at high speeds there was an absence of that annoying vibration, one problem solved.

The next morning I drove back to the meccanico, who fortunately remembered the car and my vehicle problem and with a combination of words and gestures it was agreed that I would leave the car and return around 7:00 PM to pick up the car. I asked for an idea on the cost involved and I heard him say 90 Euro and walked back to our apartment thinking that is a reasonable price. Just before 7:00 PM I arrived back at the shop and the car was parked out on the street. The shop owner showed me the part he replaced and gave me the keys. I had to ask how much the bill was and he said “venti” which is twenty, I repeated “venti?” with a puzzled look as this couldn’t be right. He shook his head yes so I pulled out a 20 Euro and was on my way with our repaired car.

In the US a mechanic won’t even look at your car for $20 let alone do any suspension work for that amount, as mechanic hourly rates start at $75. I think we found a “keeper” for any future mechanical work.

No comments: