Noilly Prattle: Attending to some unexpected business

Friday, August 14, 2015

Attending to some unexpected business

      Returning to Niseko from a day trip to Lake Toya in Hokkaido we decided to stop for some ice cream and heard this godawful bang under the car as we pulled into the parking lot. When I stopped to look I noticed that there was a long grate covering a drainage ditch across the lot entrance. One of grates was loose and bent and must have struck the undercarriage of the car as I, unawares, drove over it. A casual inspection showed nothing damaged on the outside of the car, but the sound clearly had come from under the car which we could not see very well. Thoughts of ice cream vanished and we returned to our hotel to phone our insurance company.

       The insurance person was very helpful and arranged for us to take the car to a local mechanic to inspect the undercarriage. The next morning (today) we checked the area under the car for any sign of leakage (none) and the warning light panel (nothing unusual) and drove off to the mechanic's shop about six kilometers away. Using our trusty GPS navigator (whom we have nicknamed Demi—she uses a very patient woman's voice) we quickly found the garage and the mechanic looked at the car right away. He drove the car over a pit built into the floor to have a look at the undercarriage of the car.

        He found nothing wrong, to our great relief, except for a few scratches under the front bumper and under the rocker panel on the driver's side. Since they aren't obvious to the naked eye, we can just buy some touch up paint when we get back home and do a bit of DIY repair work. Since no major repair was necessary we had the pay ¥3000 (about $25) out of pocket, a fee well worth it for the peace of mind of driving so far away from home base.

       The Demio (you can see where the nickname comes from) was really filthy after so many days on the road so we decided to look for a car wash. I didn't want to use one of those automatic machines with the rotating brushes for fear of scratching the paint, so we asked the mechanic if he knew of a car wash where you could wash your car by hand. Happily there was one about one kilometer away, so we drove there and gave Demi a thorough bath inside and out.

       Of course, almost as soon as we pulled out of the car wash it started to rain. But, at least, we got rid of most of the caked up dirt. Did you ever notice how a car seems to run more smoothly right after you wash it? Purely psychological I'm sure, but on which side, yours or the car's, I'm not so sure.

       After all the anxiety over the condition of our Demi and the hard labor involved in scrubbing her down, we decided to chill and relax in a secluded outdoor spa up in the mountains to the northeast of our hotel in Niseko. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

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