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auto-repair

I’m not a complainer. Really, I’m not. But having lived my first 68 years in the USA, I find that things being different take me some getting used to. Understand, please, I’m not asserting that “different” is wrong. It’s probably right for here; only I’m unused to it.

So, I’m sucking it up and learning to accept those different things. Still, I think it may amuse Dominicans reading this and help inform and prepare Americans, and Europeans and other “1st-worlders” wishing to settle here as well.

I’ll write about those differences – big and small – from time to time, and will preface it with this paragraph so that you know I’m not complaining.

The Dominican Difference #8: Auto Repair in Dominica

Something was leaking down the inside bottom of the rear tires of my car. Bad rear axle seals were allowing differential gear oil to leak. My car’s a 1996 Suzuki Escudo Nomade. This Suzuki model is very popular in Dominica and except for body changes, the car is also produced as the Asüna Sunrunner, Chevrolet Tracker, Chevrolet Vitara, Chevrolet Grand Vitara, Geo Tracker, GMC Tracker, Mazda Proceed Levante, Pontiac Sunrunner, Santana 300/ 350, and Suzuki Vitara.

That’s eleven models overall; probably 50% of the vehicles here. Axle seals are very small, inexpensive parts. And they’re vitally important – drive a car with differential gears un-lubricated and you’ll have an expensive repair job and a car that won’t run. Thus, one would think that auto parts stores and any new car dealer would stock them. But no. I tried every auto parts shop in Portsmouth and Roseau and the parts counter at the new car dealer and learned that./p>

So, I ordered the parts, opting for the “by sea” delivery, because FedEx delivery would be too expensive. Meanwhile (I was told delivery would take a month), I did the “Dominican thing” –topping up my differential gear oil (not an easy thing to do, and the village gas station and auto repair shop don’t keep any on-hand) and a jury-rig stopgap “fix” for the seals. That is to remove them, soak them for 5 minutes in a diesel oil/gasoline mixture to swell them then wash them in detergent to stop the swelling, and re-install them. It cost me labor and replacement differential oil, brake fluid, and axle grease. And didn’t work.

So I went to the next stop-gap jury-rig solution – the same as the first except this time put PVC cement around the seals. The costs were the same – and so were the results. After about a month, the shop where I ordered the seals called me, saying “Your axle seal is here.” I said “Seal? Don’t you mean ‘seals’? I ordered two.”

They checked. They’d placed my order for a pair, but the supplier sent only one. I was told the next day that by way of apology the supplier was sending the missing seal via FedEx. Today I called the auto parts store, because they’d not called to say the part had arrived, and was told that the supplier sent Dominica’s package to the Bahamas and vice-versa. Now, they’ll arrive “later” – which in Dominica can mean much later.

When part arrives I’ll have to top-up the differential oil again (the leaking oil is a pollutant) and drive 2 hours each way to Roseau to fetch my seals. Then I’ll have to get them installed, again at those aforementioned costs. Wish me luck!

Updated: (Nov 27th) The Bahamas store won’t send the Dominica package until Monday, because of the Thanksgiving weekend. Even though Thanksgiving is a US holiday. Good grief! I’m wondering what else can go wrong.

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