Recalling all the recalls: a one-year vehicle retrospective

I would say 60 percent of the mail I receive is from car dealerships urging me to do something important, namely, to see them immediately. Every now and then, a humungous piece of worthless mail I receive from a car dealership will literally have a key stuck to it. I once assumed this was the key to a new vehicle I won in a contest I unknowingly entered, but I soon discovered it is merely symbolic. This seems, to me, quite curious and expensive in the effort of symbolism, as the latest car sold to me features keyless entry and—take it from someone who mails newspapers for a living—mailing stuff is not cheap, especially when it has hunks of symbolic metal stuck to it. It’s good to see at least part of the ridiculous car dealership mark-up goes toward flushing money down the toilet and also hurting the environment. I remember years ago, after spending the entire day at a dealership and making the informed decision to purchase a vehicle, I received a letter from said dealership a month later imploring me to sell them the car back because they had a better deal. I honestly don’t know how car dealerships work.

ANYWAY, my point is that car dealerships mail so much crap that on the rare occasion they send something important, it becomes a boy who cried wolf scenario. Which is why I almost threw out the notice about my vehicle’s latest recall.

Yes, for the second time in the year since I purchased my vehicle—I banged a gong at the dealership, remember?—it has been recalled. I can’t even remember what the first recall was about; all I know is that I spent an hour and a half on a beautiful Saturday morning sitting next to a plate of greasy car dealership donuts while a Division III college baseball game played on ESPN, and when I got up to use the restroom, someone stole my chair. When my car was done, the service guy suggested I consider having some kind of performance check done—ONLY $75—even though my car had like 200 miles on it. I debated asking him if it was possible to un-bang a gong, but I just wanted to go home.

Now I’m left debating what to do. To me, it’s not enough the dealership will fix a recall at no cost; I should be compensated for being inconvenienced. I get two days a week to exercise my own free will, and none of that time should involve me sitting in a car dealership service waiting area with other miserable people staring at their phones.

I mean, I don’t even know what this is about. According to the letter I received, “On some of the affected vehicles, the secondary hood latch may not function properly.” Is that bad? I didn’t even know I had a secondary hood latch, but it sounds secondary. “If the primary hood latch is released, the secondary hood latch may not hold the hood closed as designed while the vehicle is in motion. In certain circumstances, this may cause the hood to open while driving and partially obscure the driver’s vision, increasing the risk of a crash.” Didn’t this happen to Chris Farley in “Tommy Boy?” That was hilarious.

So I can either waste a weekend morning waiting for a problem to be fixed that I didn’t cause, or just never open my car’s hood, which honestly wouldn’t change anything about how I had planned to maintain my vehicle. And hey, if the ol’ secondary hood latch does present a problem, I can always just wait for a car dealership to send me a key for a new car. I think I just made my decision. (bangs gong)

UPDATE: I sucked it up and went to the car dealership to have this taken care of. Guy came out after about three minutes and was like, "ACTUALLY, there are two recalls currently on this car. You probably haven't received the notification on the second one yet in the mail, but you should soon. Anyway, that one will take us about 90 minutes to do ... in addition to the other one." I left.

Note: This column appears in the 4/16 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/17 issue of the Peoria Times.