I didn’t even know anything was wrong, until I heard a grinding sound as I was exiting the carwash. But I had no idea where the noise was coming from. I definitely knew something was wrong when the guy across the parking lot stopped what he was doing and pointed at the car. My first instinct was too look at the roof; maybe one of the brushes got caught somehow? But the roof looked just fine. Sparkling clean, in fact.
Then I saw it. My bumper. On the ground. About 5 feet behind the car. Bits of plastic and wires. “No!”, I thought, “I just had that replaced a few months ago!” But looking at the rear of the Altima, my bumper was still there.
I’d driven clean over my front bumper, grinding it on the ground as I went.
The guy who pointed at me offered to take pictures on his disposable camera and mail them to me; I thought they might sell disposable cameras in the gas station, and while I was inside asking he took off. They didn’t, so I bought a disposable camera (the aptly named Kodak FunSaver) from the nearby grocery store instead and took the shots myself.
When I purchased The Altima in the summer of 2002, it had clearly been in an accident; according to the previous owner, the front and rear bumpers were damaged while the car was being shipped back from Germany where her fiance had been stationed at a military base. She figures it (or another vehicle) must have not been secured properly on the boat, and a slow-motion rolling collision ensued. I checked the VIN out and there’s no history of accident claims made against it, so I believe her. Guess the carwash just pushed it past its limit. Just in case, though: this was the Ultimate Wash from a Chevron. Caveat emptor.
The woman in line for a carwash behind me ran and got her money back.
Anyhow, I’ve got a new bumper on order; that’ll be $224 plzkthanx and should be in Monday. On top of that I need it painted silver, and installed, which will probably bump me up to the $500 range. I should point out that it’s just the polycarbonate shell of the bumper which came off, not the actual bumping infrastructure, which is still intact (though exposed). On the plus side, I can see my windshield wiper fluid reservoir now; perhaps I’ll be able to repair the crack in it (probably a product of the aforementioned collision).
At the gas station, the attendant strongly suggested I take my bumper with me lest I lose it; considering it was totally broken, I wouldn’t have been heartbroken. Anyhow, I didn’t want to litter, so it’s in my back seat. Tonight, I had the somewhat surreal experience of thinking I had to make sure I didn’t brake too hard, lest my bumper smack me in the back of the head.