Tuesday, March 18, 2008

'Are we losing parts'

I picked up a young lady, perhaps 22, and was driving her to SDSU when I noticed the steering in 92 felt a little funny. This has been my regular car since last September, so I'm attuned to its idiosyncrasies. Something had changed in the steering -- the wheel was off-center by 15 degrees or so, and it seemed like the alignment had just been misadjusted. I had to move the wheel about six inches back and forth just to keep it centered in my lane on the freeway (163 northbound out of downtown).

Just as I came around the left hand turn before the straightaway leading to I8 in Mission Valley, the car nose-dived toward the front left, and there was an awful grinding noise. The car instantly pulled to the left, and I had to man-handle the wheel to keep it straight. I let off the gas, checked my mirrors and blindspot on the right, signaled, and managed to get onto the shoulder and stop. The right front suspension had broken. It wasn't until the car was on a flat bed tow truck with the wheel removed that I saw the inboard side of the A-arm had sheered off, along with the tie rod.

As soon as the piece(s) broke, the passenger in the back said calmly: "Are we losing parts?" As I was doing everything I could with the wheel to avoid hitting other cars, I said as calmly as I could: "Yes, it appears so." She was a real trooper. I thanked her for that. When I had the car stopped I called our dispatcher, who sent another cab to pick up the customer, and a tow truck for me. I waived the $16 showing on the meter so far, but said the cabbie who would bring her the rest of the way would run his meter. She tried to pay, but I wouldn't take the money.

I was given a loner car for the night, and by the end of the following day 92 was ready again. Surely that's a record for Fred, our mechanic.

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