Archive for the ‘Car Repairs’ Category
A simple request for a $26.99 oil change ended up costing 94-year-old Helen Turner over $800 when she handed the keys to her 2004 Subaru Impreza over to an employee at a local Midas shop in Farmington, Connecticut.
Aside from the $26.99 oil change, Midas charged $297.24 to replace four spark plugs ($63.13 each in labor costs) and $398.02 ($263.03 for labor) to replace the valve cover gasket. The extra repairs, minus a $50 discount coupon for the repairs, cost $725.25.
Turner, who says she felt fearful and intimidated, agreed only to the work the Midas representative told her was essential.
‘He came out and said I need it done,” she says. “I’m 94 years old. I figured, ‘Gee, I need a car. I better get it fixed.’ Then he said there’s a lot more that needs to be done on it, bring it back next week. I told him I’m not going to bring it back right away. I was afraid of the guy because if I argued with him he’d take the car and make it worse.”
Turner eventually questioned whether the work was even done. Though the itemized bill, obtained by The Bottom Line, indicated Turner was at Midas for 2 hours, 9 minutes, she says her car was worked on only a fraction of that time.
“After he changed the oil,” she says, “he came in to me and said, ‘Well, we’re going to start on the other job now. It’s going to take 2 1/2 hours. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have to sit here for 2 1/2 hours.’ And he came back in 20 minutes and said, ‘It’s all done.’ I said, ‘I thought you said 2 1/2 hours. He just smiled and put the keys on the counter.” Hartford Courant, 22 Dec 2012.
Thanks to a friend and the Hartford Courant, Tuner was able to get the bill reduced to a mere $400, but she still isn’t a happy customer.
Moral of the story?
For customers, find a trusted mechanic, check your bill carefully, and if in doubt, say no and wait for the service as long as the delayed repair won’t damage your car or risk your life. We recommend our own CarHelp.com referral service for the best rated mechanics in your area.
For mechanics, treat your customers as if they were your own 94-year-old grandmother. Don’t upsell them, make sure they’re aware of the cost before you do the service, and hire a great reputation management company for car dealerships and mechanics, like *ahem* CarHelp.com.
Image: Stock Photo via Hartford Courant
A car owners manual is one of those resources that can save a lot of time and money when making minor (or major) car repairs. Used cars are frequently missing an owners manual, and for older models, these must have books for car maintenance and repairs can be hard to track down. Paper versions can be purchased, but typically cost anywhere from $10-30. I was excited when I saw that Edmunds.com posted a comprehensive list of resources for car owner manuels. A majority of the car owners manuals are free to download or print.
My husband and I recently had a conversation about redoing the interior of our 1999 Volvo V70 wagon. The leather seats are cracked, there are patches in the carpet, and the headliner is starting to sag. This video from Grease Girl gives a few hints and tips for redoing your car interior.
Have you redone your car interior? If so, did you have it done professionally or DIY? How much did it cost?
Into road trips and vintage cars? Up for the excitement and fear of not knowing when a hose will blow or air will give out? Crave the risk of a cross-country road trip in a sketchily repaired car? If so, this article written by Davey Johnson is for you.
“So, it looks like the Lagonda isn’t the newest four-door in my collection anymore.” The message came from Houston oncologist Dr. Sanjay Mehta, a man who owns a McManse almost wholly devoid of furniture. His six-car garage, however, is packed to the rafters with what has to be a million bucks’ worth of high-performance machinery, including a turbocharged Lamborghini Gallardo. He has at least a dozen other cars stashed elsewhere. Three weeks prior, he’d purchased one of the William Towns–designed Aston Martin Lagondas, a car most notable for its extreme folded-paper design language and an ahead-of-its-time digital dash that proved to be as fragile as it was futuristic. I clicked the link Mehta included in his message. A 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 popped up. A brown 450SEL 6.9. It was so physically and metaphorically brown that there is a strong argument to be made for its being the brownest car in history. Mehta had purchased this W116 on eBay for the meager sum of $6006. On a whim. In case there were any doubt, Mehta is single.
The car was in Los Angeles. I was asked to deliver it to Houston. But nobody knew if the car would survive the trip. We had it sent over to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, where factory-trained technicians presented Mehta with a $17,000 quote to bring the Benz up to snuff. He politely declined the offer, seeing as how decent 6.9-liter 450SELs usually sell for about $15,000. Instead, the car went to Westwood Mercedes, an independent shop in West L.A. Technicians there got the turn signals working, replaced a gear-stripped flywheel, and generally made sure the car was mechanically sound. A day before I was scheduled to depart, they informed us that they hadn’t really test-driven the car, as it had arrived sans plates. A mad shuffle ensued, and Mehta was able to procure temporary Texas proof of registration and have it overnighted to L.A. Despite six grand in repairs, I was headed off on a 2000-mile journey in a car whose roadworthiness was still in question.
And so begins a four day trip from Los Angeles to Houston. Enjoy reading the saga of four days in a golden brown Mercendes 450.
A few months ago, we realized that our night vision was greatly reduced because of headlight clouding. So of we went to a local shop to pick up a Mothers Power Plastic 4 Lights Kit to see if a simple $20 would work instead of a $100 or higher professional job. The kit includes:
Power Ball (polishing attachment for a power drill)
Severe Damage Restoration Pads (for severe cases of pits, scratches, and stains).
Instructions: After attaching the power ball to your speed drill, apply a small bit of the polish to the attachment. Place on headlight and start at slow speeds. Polish until entire lens is clean. Buff with the microfiber cloth.
Results: As you can see below, the results aren’t nearly as advanced as the packaging promises, but there is a slight improvement in headlight clarity. Especially on the left turn signal cover, the only light that required the severe restoration part of the kit.
Bottom Line: Worth the cost if you need light repairs. If you need advanced cleaning, have a professional buff out the plastic for you.
Left Turn Signal and Brights
Right Turn Signal and Brights (used Severe Damage Restoration Pads)
A faulty ABS module is one of those repairs that a lot of older cars will need, but not one that we expect to take a large chunk of our car repair budget.
Not long after we purchased our 1999 Volvo V70, the check engine light came on which is pretty typical on a used car. We ignored until the ABS light started occasionally lighting up, which made cruise control stop working. The light would stay on until we turned the car off, and then it would turn off about 50% of the time. After a few more months, other lights would show up on the dashboard. Even though we couldn’t find anything in the engine that indicated a reason. When the speedometer and odometer started dropping out while on the interstate, we decided to finally fix the faulty ABS module.
The good news? The symptoms slowly increased over a period of ten months. Our local repair shop checked the car early on in the process and gave the go ahead to keep driving, telling us that the symptoms would slowly increase over time. We had a price estimate and were able to mentally and financially prepare for a major repair without it hurting as much as an emergency repair would.
Initial: Check Engine Light, ABS Light,
After 10 months: Speedometer and Odometer would drop out while driving. Car switched into what felt like third gear while accelerating. Loss of power when accelerating up hills and from stops.
Repair: ABS Module Replacement at Franklin Automotive in Birmingham, Alabama.
Cost: $564 ($250 for parts, $264 for labor)
If you’re the type to DIY advanced car repairs, there are a few websites that give instructions on how to replace or repair the module yourself. My husband and I like to leave it to the experts who provide warranties for repairs.
If you’re in the California, Oregon, and Washington states, you can find certified service providers on Carhelp.com.