Poppin’ a wheelie

Candice Nolan / Dec 13, 2019

Poppin’ a wheelie


So, there I was, crusin’ the ‘burbs on a lazy Wednesday afternoon. My cuzzy needed to pop in to Pick ‘n Pay. Because, well, we’re cool like that. And then all of a sudden, my car started being a real jerk. It felt like the engine was about to fall out and it made the most awful sound like something was dragging on the tarmac.

It really didn’t look as though we were going to make it to the shops, so I called for a tow. The flat bed arrived within minutes (in African time that’s half an hour). The tow truck driver pointed out the flaw. There was but ONE. I repeat: ONE! NUT! holding my front left wheel in place. One other nut was broken inside and the others were missing.

I fainted, in another life. In this life, I began to have heart palpitations as I contemplated that I narrowly avoided driving on the freeway just thirty minutes before. I nearly died. She nearly died. And then a man came running up to me. He said “Miss, I think this comes from your car” and handed me a gigantic screw thingy – which I was told is a wheel nut.

the gigantic screw thingys: one is broken, one popped loose and the other one did the work of five nuts

My knees turned to jelly. I started shaking. I wanted my mummy. And everyone kept asking if I was alright. No, I thought, I’m standing here on borrowed time Yo! And then it dawned on me. The Audi dealership neglected to send my car for a roadworthy when they sold her to me. So, I was busy running around to get my license disk sorted. I popped in to the dealership that very morning to get that mess sorted out. She was cleared for take off in a matter of minutes (again, African time so we talking half an hour here). It only gets better for Audi Westrand in Clearwater. I took her in on Monday because Ye olde beetroot (that’s her name) was making a funny noise.

Audi Westrand

I thought it was her front brakes. It wasn’t. Instead, I was told, her right engine mount was buggered. But herein lies the rub. They hoisted my car up. “Looked” through the wheel to check the wear and tear on ye olde brake pads. But not one single bodied individual personage was able to detect the missing nuts.

Aha, I hear you say, maybe the nuts popped after the Monday inspection. I have footage that proves my wheels had but three nuts in place as early as last week! You see, prior to Monday’s check up, she had some repair work done to her under carriage situation (dust covers and spoilers and such). And the mechanic showed me pictures of the vehicle when they bought it in and when they booked it out. The photos show that the nuts were clearly missing in action.

Dekra

But then it gets even better (for who, I’m not too sure)! Last Friday, before Monday’s inspection, I took her in for a roadworthy at Dekra Westgate. Their report picked up minor (in comparisons) issues, while clearing the wheels for take off. I paid for this inspection to be done. And the technician guy failed to pick up the missing wheel nuts. He/she “looked” at my wheel, counted the nuts and put tick marks next to wheels on the form.

To think, I was driving around with nuts on the loose, poppin’ out all over the place, to be sure. Until the last nut standing decided enough is as good as a feast! There were no less than four mechanics (Audi, Dekra, the repair guy, and the testing station where I got my roadworthy done) who cleared my vehicle as safe to drive. Sure, I’m lucky. I’m lucky the wheel didn’t completely come off while I was driving, causing damage to the undercarriage. And I’m lucky to be alive.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this slide. I mean they held my life in their hands. All they had to do was their jobs. It’s really not that hard. From the looks of things, they were either too focussed on the job at hand (fixing the undercarriage and spoiler) or too lazy to check the nuts.

Then I go back to the days of driving lessons. We were taught to fully inspect the vehicle before taking off. I never do it. Today, I did it three times (event felt with my fingers to be sure), before even opening my driver door.

Ye olde beetroot. Jah! She sure showed me! And thanks to her, I’m officially done with Audi – both as a brand and an aspiration. I aspire to live, thanks. I’m too old to be poppin’ wheelies on these streets. I’m too traumatised to drive. And I can’t even imagine going on the freeway. Not after this. Nut after this. I think I might just learn to ride a bike. Or nut.

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