Grandma’s smaller garage left room for hoochie coochie

Dear Car Talk:

Your recent column about someone’s new vehicle not fitting into an existing garage reminded me of the fix my grandfather made. He and my grandmother had a big 1960s Oldsmobile. Their garage was original to their 1920 house.

The fix was an extension made to the back wall of the garage. The lower half of the wall was built out about 8 feet, thus making the garage 8 feet deeper. He built out just the lower half of the wall, so the front end of the Olds could pull in.

My grandmother would pull into the driveway and leave the engine running while she opened the old wooden doors. Then, she’d get back into the car and would zoom into the garage — the car hood fitting right into the back wall extension.

As the garage was also narrow, to get out of the car, my grandmother would slide across the front seat to the passenger side, roll down the passenger window, reach out and grab the doorknob of the side door to the garage. Opening the side door of the garage gave her enough room to open the passenger side car door of the Olds and escape.

Thank you for your great articles. — Holly

My father did something similar, Holly. But instead of building out the back wall of the garage to accommodate his Chrysler, one day he just accidentally drove right through it.

Gramps should have built a second extension on the driver’s side of the garage, just big enough for the Olds’ driver’s side door. Then your grandmother could have gotten out without doing the hoochie coochie across the bench seat. Or maybe, grandpa liked watching her do that?

With a side extension, the garage would have looked even weirder, but who knows, maybe Architectural Digest would have given him a few modern design awards.

Thanks for a fun story, Holly.

Dear Car Talk:

I just got a new-to-me 2017 Infiniti QX80 with about 57,000 miles. I asked the local Infiniti dealer to quote the recommended 60,000-mile service, and he came back with a $1,500 request. The Nissan dealer’s price was the same.

When I got a quote from my local, AAA-approved repair shop, it was much less, under $500. The local shop guy says the dealers are being overzealous and adding additional services I don’t need.

Should I trust the dealer or go to the local shop? I could give up the dealer’s loaner car and free cappuccino if it would save me $1,000! — Will

Regular service is a wonderful source of profit for most dealerships. I don’t know that the dealer is adding services you don’t need, Will, I think they’re just charging a lot more for them.

Your car’s repair manual tells you exactly what services should be done at 60,000 miles. You’ll need an oil and filter change, a brake fluid flush, a tire rotation and a new cabin air filter. But other than that, the 60,000-mile service is all “inspections.”

You do want those inspections. You want your mechanic to check all the belts, hoses, and fluids. And you want him to look for leaks, torn CV boots and stuff like that — things that if caught early, and fixed, will save you money later on.

But at 60,000 miles, you don’t expect to find a lot of stuff that’s wrong. And, of course, if a problem is discovered and you have more confidence in your dealer to fix it, you can always take it there for the repair. Either way, you’ll pay for any needed repairs on top of the cost of the 60,000-mile service.

Given the actual services to be performed and the time involved in the inspections, I think $500 is much closer to the right price.

If you have faith that your independent mechanic is going to do all the work — if you’ve used him before or if reviews of his shop are uniformly good (check mechanicsfiles.com) — you should definitely forego the cappuccino and pocket the $1,000 bucks.

That’ll be almost enough to cover your next few trips to the pump.


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