Borrow garage space at your own peril

All I needed was a flat concrete floor.

The SCCA VIR Time Trials were just a week and a half away, and I was debating whether or not I wanted to throw my new suspension on the car and realign everything, or if I was just going to do another alignment on the current suspension setup. Aligning the car at home meant putting the car on the most level slab in my garage, which itself wasn’t very level, resulting in a 3-hour leveling exercise the last time I aligned the car.

Steve proposed that I bring the car over to his garage and work on it there. I wouldn’t be able to use his lift, but the garage was heated, he had some Quickjacks, and one section of his garage was level enough that I could just put the car on my alignment stands and get to work. Sure, why not?

Before I brought the Miata over, I brought my new-to-me MR2 Spyder over to Steve’s house last Wednesday so he could check it out. We drove it out to get dinner only to realize that one of the rear brake calipers was stuck, and had been stuck for so long that it nearly wore through to the backing plates on the brake pads. The MR2 ended up in Steve’s garage, and I borrowed his RX8 for the drive back home.

Steve and a buddy of his went ahead and replaced the rear brake caliper on the MR2 and adjusted the parking brake. The MR2 was driveable on Friday.

On Saturday, the cascade of problems began. I brought the Miata over to the garage and began working on it. Over the course of five hours, I had the old suspension off the car and three of the four new coilovers on the car. I took the spring off the remaining coilover so I could test wheel and tire fitment, discovering that the 255 width Falken that I had mounted on my 17×10 didn’t fit underneath the rear fenders.

Meanwhile, Steve had dragged home a needy 60s Cadillac back home with another friend, and jokes started flying around that because the Miata was in the garage taking up space, Steve couldn’t use his own garage to wrench on the Caddy if needed. Mindful of this dilemma, I quickly threw the remaining corner of the Miata back together and bolted on the street wheels and tires, which would allow the car to at least be moved into the driveway if the garage was needed for wrenching on the Cadillac.

I drove the MR2 back home with the plan of returning on Sunday to test fit the 255 Bridgestone I was planning to use for the VIR Time Trials on the Miata before finalizing my alignment.

Sunday morning, I decided I’d take the RX8 back up to Steve’s. I couldn’t get the engine to turn over. I left the RX8 parked in the street and hopped in the Fiesta ST instead, bringing my 255 Bridgestone in the hatch.

I spent another eight hours in Steve’s garage on Sunday. The Bridgestone fit — it turned out to be narrower than the 245 Yoko and the 255 Falken mounted on the same 17×10 inch wheel — and I continued on with the ride heights and the alignment. It took me forever to get the ride heights adjusted to where I wanted them, and I quickly threw together the new alignment and tightened everything down.

As the sun set, I drove the Miata back to my house. I tried jumping the RX8 with my jump box, but was unable to get it to start. I hopped back in the MR2 and drove it back to Steve’s house, dropping it off and bringing my Fiesta ST back home. With the drive between our houses sitting neatly at 45 minutes one way, I ended up spending 3 hours just shuffling cars back and forth on Sunday.

I had jumper cables in the Fiesta ST, so I jumped the RX8 and moved it off the street into my driveway for my neighborhood’s Monday trash pickup day.

Monday afternoon, I tried starting the RX8, and it refused to start. I jumped the car one more time and drove it straight to Steve’s house, swapping it for my MR2 and bringing it back home.

Today, Steve finally pinpointed the issue with the RX8: the terminal connections on the battery were iffy and needed cleaning. Still, he was disappointed that he wasn’t able to drive the MR2 this week, as our informal agreement was that he’d get to drive the MR2 around while I hung on to the RX8 for a bit. Instead, I delivered a malfunctioning RX8 right back to him because I didn’t want the thing to live immobile in my driveway or in front of the house.

Long story short: Steve fixed my MR2, let me use his garage to wrench on and align the Miata, preventing him from wrenching on his Cadillac in the comfort of his own garage, and all I did was give him back an RX8 that wasn’t working correctly that he then had to scramble to fix. He gave me a ton of shit over the course of the weekend, and all of the hand wringing I got was definitely justified.

And while we talked on the phone today and he assures me that we’re all cool now, I don’t believe him one bit. All throughout the weekend, there was an exasperation in his voice, sharp in his comments while I was working on the Miata, a white noise of disparagement on my wrenching speed, the way I positioned the car in his garage, and the way I left the garage as my burned out mind struggled to pack the Miata and the Fiesta ST.

The tone of voice persisted in today’s phone conversation. It is clear that, between the use of his garage and the troubles that beset his RX8 while it was under my watch, I’ve incurred an unforgivable indebtedness that will never go away. In my quest for ease and convenience — which turned out to not be all that convenient in the end — I hung a Sword of Damocles over my friendship, and I now wish that I had had the foresight to prevent the past five days from ever happening in the first place. All of the work should have been done in my own garage, where the inconveniences imposed are imposed only on myself and not on others.

So ends my tale of woe. Borrowing a friend’s garage for lengthy wrenching sessions falls in line with the likes of borrowing money from friends and family. DON’T DO IT. Just don’t.

I Am The Asshole. And as a result, I’ve permanently scarred a friendship that I had valued so much.