For the past month or so the exhaust on my car has sounded—"wrong." Not really loud, but just not quite right. I've had the car over nine years and driven it 117,000 miles so I know what it's supposed to sound like, and something's been off. Strangely, under hard acceleration it sounded normal (there's a place nearby where you make a full 90° right turn straight into a really steep hill so you have to run it up in second or it will bog down when you shift to third) but it was raspy and louder than usual just puttering around in normal driving and light acceleration. It's also been making a weird "thud" sound the instant the engine catches from a cold start. That's a new phenomenon, but I hadn't connected the two.
When I started the car this morning, that thud was more like a BAM! Now the exhaust was loud, not just weird. I shut it right down. Oh great, it's Thursday morning and I need to drive into Manhattan Saturday morning to teach a private, one on one, workshop, at The Penumbra Foundation.
There's a great mechanic in town who we've used for more than twenty years for our often rather old cars (we run them till they're ready to donate). His new place is triple the size of the earlier one, and it's always really busy. I called, and of course found that they're booked up over a week in advance. When I explained my dilemma, Pete recommended an exhaust system specialty place, Major Muffler, way down at the bottom of South Main Street, Waterbury, almost at the Naugatuck line.
I called and explained the situation. The guy on the phone said, let me check out on the floor, came back and said, bring it in at 2:00 PM. Wow. A two-thousand-something street number on South Main is a scruffy end of town, but the phone was on speaker and while I was doing this, Tina looked online with her iPad and said, "these guys are great, they get 4.5 star ratings from Goggle and Yelp." Well, I said, and from Pete.
My GPS got me there smoothly, avoiding driving noisily through the middle of town. I arrived ten minutes early. The front office door was locked and had a little clockface widget in the window indicating that they'd be back at 2:00 PM. It’s an old three-bay garage building with a used car lot attached. A guy pulled in with a huge RV that needed a tailpipe.