Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Robot Fail

This morning when I started Salome, a weird warning popped up on her screen. It said, "Battery Discharge Warning: please use system with engine running".

Completely weird, but I shrugged it off because I'd just started the car and knew the alternator would recharge the battery. Except that a mile down the road the same warning popped up. I started to get worried about the third or fourth time it popped up. The warning continued to pop up every thirty seconds (yes, I timed it) for my entire commute. I was convinced that I was driving on borrowed time, that something had happened to the alternator and that I was driving on battery power. I even skipped stopping for breakfast because I was concerned that Salome would die any second.

I made it to work without getting stranded on the side of the road and after class, I called the service department at the dealership, who agreed that it was worrisome and that I should take Salome in. After some finagling, I managed to arrange for Monster to borrow the Ashinator's car to follow me to the dealership just in case she died.

I had intended to just drop her off and go back to work, but they assured me it would take just a few minutes, so I sent Monster back home. By the way, "just a few minutes" translated into two hours - but they were productive hours.

The service manager came out to tell me I was past due for my oil change, which I knew and had scheduled an appointment for next week. He offered to just do it while they had her, so I agreed. Then he told me there was a recall on one of the throttle pieces, which I also knew, and he offered to go ahead and do it. As he was walking away, I asked about my passenger seatbelt.

From the first week, Salome's front passenger seatbelt wouldn't retract all the way and I'd complained about it at every oil change. The first time, they kind of patted me on the head and told me that the detail people hadn't removed all of the protective tape and that's what was binding it up. They removed the tape and sent me on the way.

But it didn't fix the problem, so the next time, I raised a little bigger stink about it. They kind of patted me on the head and sent me on my way again. The third time I went it, I raised an even bigger stink and they agreed to order a new seatbelt mechanism.

I explained the whole thing again to the service manager and he agreed to fix that as well.

Some time went by.

More time went by.

My phone, which I was reading a book on, died. 

A bit more time went by.

Finally, the service manager reappeared with a stack of papers and I got excited, thinking Salome was finished. Instead, he had one heck of a story for me.

First, they couldn't figure out why the sensor kept throwing up the battery discharge warning, but the battery and alternator were in good shape. No problem, they checked it out and that's all I asked.

The recall work went smoothly.

The oil change went smoothly.

The seatbelt, though...

Salome was assembled in Georgia by robots on an assembly line. No big deal, I knew that. However, what I didn't know, and what they were surprised to find, was the cause of the seatbelt issue. It seems that the robot responsible for bolting on the seatbelt mechanism lost it's socket. It tightened the nut on the bolt and the socket apparently broke off and went with the car. Honestly, that's not too surprising, I mean, how many times have you snapped the socket off of a wrench?

I bet it happens a lot and then the socket probably just falls off before the next stop on the assembly line/conveyor belt. But Salome must have really liked that socket and held onto it. When the body panel robot put the body panel on, the socket didn't break free, it was jammed between the A-post and the body panel. The panel torqued the socket just a bit, just enough to knock the seatbelt mechanism out of alignment, so it wouldn't retract.

I wasn't crazy, and I wasn't making it up, and they really couldn't just pat me on the head and send me on my way. While it's one crazy-ass story, at least I feel a bit vindicated.

But so help me if that damn warning light comes back on ...

1 comment:

Allenspark Lodge said...

I wonder if the seat belt robot got razzed by the other robots in the locker room for dropping its' socket.