Saturday, March 15, 2008

Breakdown on Motorway

What does a foreigner do in Thailand if his car explodes in the middle of motor way?

2 options.

1. Call all the Thai friends you have in your mobile. Eventually one will help.
2. Wait for the occasional yellow tow trucks that belong to the Motorway department. It was 2 hours before I saw one. They will stop by, asked a couple of questions then perform on the spot repairs if necessary. If your car needs to be towed, it cost THB$3,500.

I took the first option and friend arranged everything, from tow truck to destination workshop. And remember to pray that it does not rain. Attack anyone you see resembling a medicine woman attempting to rain dance in the immediate vicinity.

What to have when you own an old car in Thailand?

Always have a fire extinguisher on board. Thai mechanics are very crappy with their workmanship, especially electrical. My air-conditioner piping leaked and the system lost all its gas. Gas leakage is indicated by your entire car engulf in noxious white fumes. The compressor should have cut-off as it is a standard safety feature to not overheat the compressor when no gas is circulating. However, since Thai mechanics lacks the basic discipline and know how, they had previously hardwired many of my air-conditioning components. The compressor did not cut-off and overheated as a result, and BURNS! This is indicated by strange burning metal smell and when you slow the car, you see smoke coming out under the car. Open your hood and you could see small flickers of flames in or around the compressor. Put out fire immediately with extinguisher.

What happens after you tow the car to the Thai workshop?

Any job that requires major removal and re-fitting of engine or console will result in your car being wired up in the most imaginable wrong way ever. Car will spew black smoke with no power and engine constantly dying. Brakes normally does not work in such cases so drive dead slow. Since Thai mechanics sucks and lacks discipline, they will deny they had done anything wrong and had not messed with the electrics, since it is only the compressor that they had changed. Expect the workshop to refer you to another, and another and even offer to drive your car to the next shop they know. Drive car back to original shop and prepare your own tools. Check all wiring on the ECU. You will see that they have wired it up wrongly. Correct wiring by yourself and have the mechanics staring at you in awe after your turn on the ignition and the engine runs smooth without a glitch.

Thailand, land of smiles, but could unfortunately also be land lack of basic knowledge for most.

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