The corrupt and the decrepit

It’s the second time this has happened since I got to Pittsburgh. I’ve been going to dealers to get my car serviced because I haven’t found an independent hybrid mechanic. And my tire guy keeps warning me that dealers are under pressure to raise revenue from their service departments because they’re having trouble moving their inventories of cars.

The first time I had a problem was with Ken Ganley Toyota. They flagged my tires as needing service soon. It wasn’t true. I expect to put those particular tires back on (I have snow tires on now, even as the birds are starting to build their nests) when I do the rotation at the end of April.

Now, Spitzer Toyota flagged my rear brakes as needing immediate attention. It’s not true. According to my tire guy, the front brakes have 50 percent left and the rear brakes have over 50 percent. And yes, that is apparently sufficient to pass the state-required inspection.

I just checked my records. It’s been a little over 40,000 miles since the rear brakes were last done. The mechanic who performed the state-required inspection when I arrived, and who clearly did not expect to become my regular mechanic, warned me this was coming, so it wasn’t a surprise.

But because this is a hybrid, regenerative brakes take a lot of the load. I’ve put a little over 110,000 miles on the car and haven’t done the front brakes yet.

Some things I can get checked. Like the tires and the brakes. But a lot of stuff I can’t. If for example, a mechanic tells me the car is due for a tune-up that I had done yesterday, I just have to take their word for it. I really don’t know otherwise until the engine starts misfiring or I get a check engine light, neither of which I want to happen with passengers in the car.

The starter battery, which had been flagged as needing service soon on the previous service but not the one yesterday, is another example. When that battery fails, the car goes into “limp home” mode, which caps your speed at a ridiculously low speed, on the order of five miles per hour. And it can fail without warning—this happened to me once before. This is something else I don’t want to happen with passengers in the car.

I have to be able to trust my mechanic on a lot of stuff. So far in Pittsburgh, that’s been a real problem. But I looked again today for an independent hybrid mechanic. To the limited extent one can trust online reviews, I might have found somebody. And my mother found someone else who seems even more highly rated and a little closer.


There is a new blog post entitled, “The abandoned.”

I’m starting to see the first flowers of spring. I think I like having four seasons. Well, three of them anyway (summer is ridiculous).


If—a very big if—I understand correctly, Uber and Lyft drivers are not directly affected by the governor’s shutdown order affecting “nonessential” businesses that should already be in effect.[1] That said, there will be even fewer places for people to go than there already are.

From a few days ago:

This is an unprecedented time in our community. Our region has always been at its best when we work together, and this challenge is no exception. We need everyone to step up and play a part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our region. We understand that this may cause hardship for some, and frustration for others, but it’s imperative that we work together to do what’s best for our community.[2]

The hardship is disproportionately borne by the poor who, as yet, have no assurance of any compensation, let alone full compensation. I’m really not feeling this “community spirit” that I guess I’m supposed to feel when, yet again, I’m left to negotiate the financially impossible by myself.

Kara Seymour, “All ‘Non-Life-Sustaining’ Businesses In PA Must Close By 8 PM,” Patch, March 19, 2020,

  1. [1]Kara Seymour, “All ‘Non-Life-Sustaining’ Businesses In PA Must Close By 8 PM,” Patch, March 19, 2020,
  2. [2]Rich Fitzgerald, quoted in WTAE, “Allegheny County officials call on all nonessential businesses to close,” March 16, 2020,

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