Car Problem in Coronado
Today was a bad car day!
At 8 AM, I started my Nissan X-trail, drove about 25 feet to the front gate when a distinct odor of gasoline was apparent inside the car. When I exited the car, I could see gasoline spurting from somewhere in the motor area much like a severed artery on your favorite CSI TV show. Not wishing to incinerate myself in a massive explosion I immediately turned off the motor and started to weigh my limited options. Although I suspected a broken gas line, it was not certain that this was the precise problem … and I am NOT a mechanic.
I was incredibly lucky that the gas leak did not occur when the engine was hot and I was driving merrily along the main highway.
Clearly, I could not drive my car to a local garage. I also knew that my favorite mechanic Julio (one mile from Coronado) was extremely busy with other clients; I had just spoken with him concerning a strange motor noise several days earlier. But Julio happens to have several hydraulic lifts, a diagnostic computer and an excellent knowledge of automobiles which is what I needed. In spite of his backup with other clients, I decided to visit Julio in person at his garage. In Panama, a face to face discussion is always much better than a telephone call.
I caught a bus at the front gate of our house to the Inter Americano Highway and caught another one to Julio’s garage (65 cents and 20 minutes). Julio kindly agreed to check out my car and repair it ASAP given that the required parts were available. He said he would probably need to use the hoist so the car had to be towed to his garage. Two buses, 20 minutes and 65 cents later I was back at my house where my car was waiting for attention.
I called my insurance broker and he passed me to an English speaking agent to ensure minimal difficulties. I am sure that I could have explained everything in Spanish. They took all the information and made the arrangements. With a standard car policy in Panama, incidentally, you get three, free tow truck events per year.
By 9:30 AM the tow truck was at my door. By 10:00 A.M. the car was at the garage although Julio was still busy with other clients. In very short order, Julio and his mechanic assistant check out the problem and discovered immediately a faulty gasoline hose connection. If a new part would have been needed I would have had to visit the Nissan dealership in Chorrera by bus (45 minutes) and bring it back for installation.
A Ridiculous Price
The total charge for mechanic services rendered was exactly “zero”. This being a totally ridiculous price, I purchased several very large bottles of soda for their drinking pleasure as a thank you.
As I have mentioned in earlier posts and comments, a surprisingly large number of problems are resolved more quickly and considerably less expensively here in Panama than in North America. I would be shocked if my local mechanic in New Jersey would have accepted several liters of soda for his work or that the total turnaround time would have been 3 hours including a tow truck.
Contact Info for Julio
Incidentally, I owe Julio a plug so here is his contact information. Julio Bethancourt (6596-5129) or 6548-0846). His Garage is called J&M. It is located on the left side of the Inter Americano highway about one mile from the McDonald’s in Coronado as you travel towards Bejuco which means you have to go past it (about another mile) and take the first exit or “retourno” at the entrance of Cabuya and then head on back.