More Costa Rica “Nice” – Car trouble and a Good Samaritan

My car died (steaming/smoking/coughing/choking/wheezing) as I was driving home late one day (during the rain, of course).  I pulled over in front of a furniture store and an employee there put water in the car and tried all sorts of things to get the car working properly.  When he finally gave up – all wet and dirty I offered him 1000 colones (about $2.00), but he refused to accept anything.  He said I should drive the car to the nearest garage and then pointed to one down the street.  I asked if the mechanic there was good and if he was honest and he assured me that the people there would do good work and treat me fairly.  I drove the car the short distance and left it there and caught a bus home.

The mechanic was extremely busy.  First he took out a big piece (head gasket?) and had something done to it – smoothed out or ground down?  (You can tell I’m really up on my car terminology.)  Then the mechanic discovered that the block (?) was cracked and the engine needed to be replaced.  My car had an aluminum engine and the mechanic said they were more prone to this happening if things weren’t well maintained (I guess that means putting water somewhere!).  (The refurbished part is now resting comfortably in the bodega – anyone need a heavy doorstop?)

The mechanic hunted around for a new (old) engine (my car is a 1996) and prices ranged from $300-600.  He thought $600 was overpriced and when he checked on the lower priced one, it wouldn’t work for my car.  At that point he quit searching because of other work demands..

Then a Good Samaritan (GS) in the form of a new client appeared.  In our conversation he learned about my car situation.  He asked if I’d mind if he checked into it because he hated to see anyone get ripped off and he was afraid that could happen.  I agreed, of course, and he went and talked to the mechanic and reported back to me that he believed the mechanic was good.  Because the mechanic didn’t have time to keep hunting for an engine, the GS offered to look for one.  He went searching and came up with one!  He had it checked out and then he and I went and picked it up in his pickup truck and took it to the mechanic.

At the beginning of the repair process, I gave the mechanic some money to buy parts, pay for labor, etc.  When he was nearly finished, he called and asked if I wanted the oil changed and said it would be about 10,000 colones.  I said to go ahead.  When he and his son delivered the car to my house at night, I was prepared to give him an additional 10,000.  Instead, he handed change back to me as well as all the old car parts and receipts for everything he’d bought for the car!  He hadn’t used up all the money I’d given him and the gas tank was still nearly full.  (I’ve been warned never to take a car in for repairs with a full tank of gas – that it will be nearly empty when you pick it up.

My Good Samaritan would accept nothing for all his time and trouble.






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