OK where to start!!
We decided as the Spark was going to be our lifeline that we ought to get it serviced, so I phoned up the local Chevy dealer and booked it in for a full service, saying that I would wait while it was done (little did I know!!).
The day (Friday) dawned and I turned up at Schumacher’s and was introduced to my “service Consultant”, Tom!! He noted what was required including fitting the “hood” bracket so the hood would stay up (for some reason it was missing) and two extra keys. He then said they would take a look at it and let me know approximate costs!! In the meantime I could sit in the Customer Lounge and enjoy the free coffee and bagels. Had a coffee, gave the bagels a miss, although not everyone did as while I sat there an older lady came in and proceeded to take three complete bagels with cream cheese and wrap them up and put them in her handbag, must have been peckish!!
Anyway an hour later Tom turned up. The Spark’s rear drum brake cylinders both had leaking seals, which had ruined the cylinders so both needed replacing including the brake pipes which were frayed, and we needed new front brake pads on the disk brakes. Other than that and the normal filters and oil, and he advised a transmission oil change as it was long overdue, he said the car was in remarkably “good shape” especially as the last time he could see it had been serviced was 25,000 miles (40,000 miles ago!!). All of this meant they had to order parts and it therefore would not be ready until Monday!! They would supply a free loan car. OK said I and we duly filled out the paperwork, and I was taken out to the loan car. Well I had to laugh!! Here was me driving around in England in 14 year old Passat estate with 220,000 miles on the clock and running the UKPassats web site http://www.ukpassats.co.uk/phpbb/index.php and the loan car was a nearly brand new VW Passat sedan (saloon) with 3,000 miles on the clock and all the toys!! And I had it for the weekend!!
I had also arranged on Friday for the paint guy at Palm Beach RV to fit the new bumper, so I had to ring him and rearrange it for Monday when the new tyres were due to be fitted to the RV.
We had a good weekend shopping for the RV and chilling as well as trying out the Passat (it was a V6 3.2 litre!!).
Monday dawned and it was due to be a busy day. Pick up the Spark from having a service at the Chevy dealer (and return the loaner VW Passat sedan sigh!!), back to Christopher’s, hitch up the spark to the RV, drive to Palm Beach RV (slowly with the tyres banging away!!), leave it to get the tyres done, and take the Spark to the paint shop to get the new bumper fitted.
What is that saying “the best laid plans of mice and men”!! Waited for the supposedly early call to say the Spark was ready, but by 10 o’clock it hadn’t happened, so I rang the dealer. The Spark wasn’t going to be ready until 11.30am at the earliest as some parts had come in late. So I rang Palm Beach RV to warn them I was going to be late, to be told that the tyre place they used were short of fitters as they had called in sick so could we delay it until Tuesday!! OK that simplified things a bit as now I had to just concentrate on the Spark.
Schumacher’s phoned back dead on 11.30am to say the Spark was ready, so I set off. Saw the Spark sat there ready when I pulled in and Tom said could I complete the loaner paperwork and he would get my bill ready. Completed the paperwork, and went to Tom’s booth. Turned out the bill was slightly less than the initial estimate, but it was still a chunk of money!! 2 keys at $128 each didn’t help as well as an hour’s labour to fit the hood strut bracket (think it would have taken me 2 minutes!!). But it is all worth it as the car was now on a “minor” service schedule and wouldn’t need another service for 5,000 miles.
So got into the Spark and drove it to the paint shop. At least that part went well, all fitted in about 2 hours (they had to recut the new grill to allow the tow receivers to fit through). I then drove back to Christopher’s in a Florida rain storm (it hissed it down for at least 2 hours, but over here they seem used to it with large drainage ditches and huge runoff drains on the roads).
Tuesday dawned and it was time to take the RV back to Palm Beach RV to get the tyres fitted and some paperwork done for the extended Warranty etc.
After a slow drive down, so we didn’t break anything in the partially loaded RV with tyres banging away, we arrived at Palm Beach RV. They have a somewhat narrow entrance to the lot so turning in from the middle lane of the main road was an experience as Americans have a habit of undertaking people even when they have the right turn indicator flashing (thank god for the camera in the mirror, so I had at least 3 ways of checking what was happening)!!
Made it into the lot and handed the keys over and they took it off to the Tyre supplier. The estimate was 2 hours to change to RV tyres, so we should be out of here by 12.30 (!!). Completed all the paperwork and then sat and waited for the RV. 12.30 passed, still no news, and finally at 1.00pm I went and asked if they had heard anything. That rang the tyre fitter and they said it would be ready in about 30 minutes. Well it was actually an hour, before we were driven up there to collect “big beast”. All done, with the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System installed on the new tyres. “RV is round the back in our lot” says the receptionist as she gave me the keys. Well that tested my manoeuvring skills in a 35ft RV. It was parked front in with cars all around it and not a huge space to turn around!! Finally got out after a 10 point turn, without hitting anything (the rear camera is a godsend!!). We had agreed with Palm Beach RV we would test drive it up I95 to Christopher’s and we would let them know the result.
Well all I can say is what a difference two tyres make!! Smooth as silk, no banging and cruised at 55mph no problem, so that sorted that out.
Got back to Christopher’s and Anne made the evening meal (sockeye salmon very nice) and the Christopher and I decided to try out towing the Spark. Hooking it up was fairly easy and it was at this point that Christopher insisted Anne drive the Spark while I did the hitch work, so for the first time since we arrived in the US Anne drove a car!! It all went very well and Christopher and I set off on a trial run. The people at Palm Beach RV said we wouldn’t even notice a 2,000lb car being towed by a 22,000lb RV and that turned out to be true, and the only reason we knew it was there is we could see it in the rear view camera. Christopher decided he needed to test my RV driving skills on narrow roads (for America that is, although they are still wider than a lot of our A roads), and roundabouts (there seem to be a lot in Florida compared to other states I have been in). So after about 10-15 miles and about 10 roundabouts all negotiated with the rain tipping it down, Christopher was happy and asked if he could have a drive. He took us back to his house and luckily it had stopped raining (or so we thought) but as we unhitched the Spark the heavens opened again and we got soaked, but at least it was warm!!
Sorry this is along post, but there was lot to tell, but mission accomplished all vehicles ready to go and we are now booked into the shakedown campground, Jonathan Dickinson State Park from Thursday night for 5 nights to trial everything on the RV https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Jonathan-Dickinson .
Final note, I am trying to add a subscribe widget to the Blog so that you can be informed automatically if there is a new post or comment. Think I have done it but not sure as I only seem to see it at certain times. Let me know by email if you are having problems.
Hitching up the Spark
Anne in the driving seat.
Return in the rain
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DobseqaAD0I&feature=youtu.be Us getting wet!!