Sunday, August 27, 2006

Adventures In Mechanicsville

"Yeah right. I'm gonna get my car repaired at a dealership. Ha! Why don't I just flush my money down the toilet." - George Costanza

Planning to be on the road last weekend, I took my car to the dealership to get it checked out. Just routine maintenance, or so I thought. Oh, and the last three girls I had in my car had complained about the lack of production from my AC, so I asked them to check that out, too.

A couple hours later, I get a call at work. "Mister Bone, this is Will Skrooyoo from the service department. The estimate on your car comes to one thousand seventeen dollars and sixty-seven cents. You need a new compressor. I just need your OK to go ahead and order the parts."

First of all, I like how they always throw that sixty-seven cents in there. Really, would it hurt to round down? Is that gonna put you in the red?

I told them to not do anything. That I would think about it. When I arrived to pick up my car, I had another surprise waiting. The 875-point vehicle inspection had supposedly turned up bad front and rear brakes. The estimate on those? Another $500.

Now I enjoy throwing $1500 around as much as the next guy, but I decided to call an independent mechanic. Just for kicks. I ended up renting a car for the weekend. It was last minute so I could only choose from a silver Mazda 6 or a PT Cruiser. Please tell me you don't think I would have actually chosen the PT Cruiser.

Even though I've lived here for about a year, I haven't used a mechanic here yet. But I had one in mind. Mom had taken her car there and the place is always overflowing witih business. So I called him. He said if I needed a new compressor, he could put one in for $800. I decided I'd rather give my money to him than to the dealership which had sold me the car less than a year ago.

I took my car in this past Tuesday. And also told him to check the brakes. He called me an hour or so later. And said that as far as he could tell, my compressor was working, but that it had too much freon in it. He recommended draining it and putting two cans in and said he'd do that for $80.

He said, and I agreed, it wouldn't hurt to try that. If it worked, it'd save me a whole lot of money. If it didn't, he'd count that towards the cost of a new compressor. He also said I did need front brakes, which he'd do for $110, but that my rear brakes were fine.

I was almost certain I didn't need rear brakes. I didn't have them put on my truck, which I bought new, until around 150,000 miles. My car only has 68,000 miles. This guy seems to be honest. I mean he had an estimate from the dealership in his hand. He could have easily called me and said that's what it was and made himself $800. But he didn't.

So far so good with the AC. It seems to be working much better. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Now I just have to find something to do with this extra one thousand three hundred twenty-seven dollars. And sixty-seven cents.

Who can find a virtuous mechanic? For his price is far above rubies.

"We got a safe in the trunk with money in a stack. Queens guys in the front and Brooklyn in the back..."


  1. Helmuth'sAlreadyOut??8/28/2006 01:27:00 AM

    "the last three girls I had in my car" . . . goodness, Sir Bone, sounds as though you're a Player of the first order. In the words of Blackstreet - Play on, Player.

    As for your dealership woes . . . bloodsucking bastards. They do everything they can to screw someone over the minute they walk in the door. You're lucky you're not a girl - they would have told you that you needed a new engine, too.

    At least you've got a good momma (gotta love the South) and she knew a mechanic. And kudos to you for shopping around! Most of the people I know would have just taken their word for it.

    Now, about that extra dough, take a vacation! I heard about this cruise . . .sounds heavenly! Look into a cruise!

  2. Well, at least I know that they do it to other people - GUYS even. I feel like I have a beacon on my head when I walk into a dealership or a mechanic, being a woman and all.

    I went to get my oil changed and tires rotated last week at the dealership where I bought my car, and all of a sudden now need new tires. Um, I just bought the car 2 years ago. The tires came with the car. Either they're shoddy, or the mechanic is a scheister.) Needless to say, I'm shopping around for tires.

  3. First of all, I don't wanna hear it from any of you about my lifestyle- he's a good man! I'm married to a used-to-be mechanic/ now he's a service advisor for Mercedes.
    Secondly, dealerships tell you about all the things they find wrong, or going wrong with your car b/c 98% of people out there will not maintain their service on their car and only come in when something goes wrong. Therefore, if they don't tell you about it when you go in, in 3 months when it goes out, you will be calling complaining that you "just had your car in there."
    Thirdly, extended warranty. It's beautiful! It's SO worth the extra thousand bucks up front. I even got a new stereo (Sony, not dealership stereo) for my car when my old one ate one of my tapes. Most tires come with a warranty on them too, but you have to balance and rotate them every 5,000 miles are so. Then they should last about 40,000 miles, depending on how and where you drive. Mechanics aren't all bad- they are just trying to do their job and support their family.

  4. "Now I just have to find something to do with this extra one thousand three hundred twenty-seven dollars. And sixty-seven cents."

    Ummm. Hello?! I'll be more than happy to take that off your hands.

  5. I tried to tell you a few weeks ago at dinner to get rid of your car!!! That's what I had until I traded it in about 3 weeks ago. POS!!! It did have about twice the miles that yours has, but something was ALWAYS wrong with it. Just ask Kyle. HA! Seriously though... Shayla's grandmother has one of those too, and she just got her AC fixed about 2 weeks ago, and it broke again yesterday. TRADE IT IN!!!

  6. YesHe'sOut: Well, I didn't say how much time had elapsed over that "last three girls" thing. And one was my sister :-)

    I almost just paid it. But glad I didn't, obviously.

    Carmen: I know several times girls I have known or dated took their car to the dealership and got some outrageous estimate and all this work that needed to be done. Again, if you find a good, honest mechanic, stick with him.

    I usually count on good tires lasting at least 60,000 miles.

    GroovieChick: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have trouble believing you're unbiased, Laura Bush ;-)

    And of course I wish I had gotten the extended warranty. Now.

    Heather B: This is weird, but you're the first person I thought of when I wrote that.

    Actually, I think I'll begin by going to Taco Bell and getting THREE chicken meximelts. That should be like four bucks right there.

    Jawana: Um, where were you a year ago when I bought this car? :-) I'm hoping I have better luck with mine.

  7. Good call on getting a second opinion. Saved a lot of $....hmmm what do do with that savings? The meximelts are a good start lol, i adore your sense of humor. ;-)

  8. We found a good mechanic here too, but even still they try to be Mr Will Skrooyoo when I go in there. They're great when DH takes the car in there...but I go in there and they find a bazillion things wrong with my the back windshield wiper needs to be replaced. I bought one at WalMart for DH to put on, he hasn't and it's still doing fine...I use the back wiper about 3 times per year when the snow kicks up and I can't see out.
    But I will say this for our favorite mechanic... about 2 years ago my 4x4 went out...totally didn't work. I called up the dealership and 1) they couldn't get to it for a week!!! and 2) it was going to cost about $1500 to replace. I then called fav mechanic 1) they could do it that day and 2)only $800 and that was with ME dealing with them...SCORE. They also told me what we were doing wrong that caused the 4x4 to go out in the first place.
    So now I just have DH take my car in...besides his military haircut is always good for an extra discount there...he doesn't even have to flash his ID.

  9. blogger was being a pain this morning and wouldn't let me at the sunglasses comments until just now. And I have to agree that you replacing your lost sunglasses with the tinkerbell version might do SERIOUS damage to your social life.
    However, I have it on very good authority that for the chic 8y/o girl that tinkerbell is very in.
    I think the most popular comment was that I should have jumped in after them when they fell... yeah, shudda are really great, but they don't help me at all now.
    Thanks for not telling me what I shudda done. :D
    I hope you find your glasses or a good replacement soon.

  10. My brakes were making weird noises a few months ago. The dealership told me I'd have to replace the brake pads and the rotors on both the front & back brakes. That was way more money then I wanted to spend so I asked a few other people. I ended up only needing new brake pads on the front and my rotors were in such good shape that they didn't even need to be turned. So I just decided to replace the brake pads myself. It only cost me about $20 bucks. I don't take my car to the dealership anymore.

  11. Ugh! I hate dealerships! Will Skrooyoo is right! After getting trapped in the parking lot two weeks ago in park, I had another bout of trouble this weekend. Looked around on the 'net and find that there is a recall on a brake switch thingy. Like how I used that technical term 'thingy'? Anyhoo, come to find out that switch was fixed on my car two years ago when I took it in for something else. I wasn't having problems with it, but it was listed on recall. Well, now I AM having problems with it and it's not covered under the recall AND the warranty on the replaced part went out a year ago. Cost of the part? $15. Labor to install the part? $95. Good thing I found instructions on how to replace the part. And good thing Nick can follow instructions!

  12. RedNeckGirl: Thanks. As I've said before, if I can't make a girl laugh occasionally, then I'm in pretty sad shape.

    Renee: I've heard too many stories that started with someone taking their car to a dealership, then going somewhere else, saving tons of money and ending with "And I haven't had any problems since."

    I gotta find my sunglasses. This is exactly why I don't spend $300 on shades. (Is it still cool to call them shades? I'm sure it is.)

    Krista: Wow, Krista! I'm very impressed. But you can definitely get brakes done lots of places much much cheaper than a dealership.

    Lass: Good point. That's another thing that makes dealerships so high. The labor.

    I think one conclusion we can draw from all this is, if you can do it yourself, do it yourself.

  13. Just don't steal the mechanic's moves. I hear they hate that. And make sure a counter-clockwise swirl is always involved. No knuckles...or you get the "tap". Stopping short though, well, if you can stomach picturing Kramer and Estelle, go for it.

  14. So far so good... and that was over a week ago, right? Sounds like that's the fix to me, Mr. Bone. Yipee.

    I hate dealerships. Why do they insist on raping you out of your various sixty-seven cents!? If you added them all up...

    At any rate, gotta get another girl in that front seat PRONTO to really give the AC a test.

  15. Dorothy, he may wanna give that toe time to heal before trying the counter-clockwise swirl...and whatever he does DON'T WRITE the routine down! I don't think that George even got the tap for that. ;) And he'll need the good breaks for stopping short.

  16. And to think... you are not even a woman and they tried to "screw you over"... :)

  17. Great deal...I'm glad you got that second opinion. I hate taking the car in for repairs...we do have one guy that we trust, but it takes days to get the car in to him...not good in an emergency...and our backup guy usually fixes something, then pulls out a wire somewhere so we'll come back a month later....*sigh* Thankfully...most of our vehicles are in great shape right now :)!

  18. Dorothy: Oh, don't worry. Nothing is worth more than an honest mechanic. You can't put a price on that.

    I like stopping short. It's smooth. Natural. Knuckles can't possibly be good.

    Blondie: Good idea. I'll work on that last suggestion. Pronto!

    Renee: I don't need to write anything down. I got it all right up here. *points to head*

    Now was that clockwise or counter-clockwise again?

    Shayna: Yeah. No one's safe anymore, I guess. No rules. It's like Thunderdome!

    Jennifer: Well, this guy will be getting all my business from now on. He does seem to always be busy. I guess there's a good reason for that.

  19. Man, I need to teach you how to change your own brakes. It's fairly simple, and barring having to buy new rotors or drums, it's fairly inexpensive.

  20. Big Man: I know. I did it once, years ago. Where I live now, I'm not sure how they would feel about working on my car in the parking lot.

  21. Suggestion: Have a 6 pack of PBR in a cooler nearby. Whenever someone comes up to you, offer 'em a beer. Most guys will just accept the beer, and say "what ya got under the hood?" :)