Saturday, April 04, 2009

Crying Purse, Smiling Car

Because I needed to get a safety inspection done for my car, and it also was time for an oil change, I scheduled a service appointment for this morning. Yes, you now have to make an appointment to get your car repaired. That amazed me the first time they asked me to do it but, in retrospect, it makes sense. No more waiting for hours and your car is ready when you want it. Plus, you set it by your schedule so you don't get as frustrated with things.

I'd requested 9 AM but they set me at 8:30. That's okay, first in first out! My dealership uses a web page to schedule these things and it has a comments area, so I asked for what I needed and included a request for a "tune up". This car maintenance procedure apparently no longer exists. When I described the problem, "It vibrates when sitting in traffic while in gear with my foot on the brake," they said they'd look into it. Turns out I needed more than a typical tune up. If such a procedure exists for a fuel injection engine, my dealership charges about $150 for it. That wasn't what I ended up paying. My car had a bigger problem. It had a gasket leak on the oil tank. This leak had dripped oil right onto a spark plug which had now been sitting in oil and not firing. So they needed to replace the gasket, the tubes for the spark plugs, and of course the spark plugs. There was also some carbon buildup on the throttle body and my air filter was nasty. So in addition to the oil change and safety inspection charge they added another $450. Ouch!

That's actually better than I'd expected. When they mention gaskets and cars I immediately think of head gaskets and replacing those pretty much rebuilds an engine. Thank goodness they didn't need to do that. It's happened to me twice over the life of times I've owned cars and I never want it to happen again. So I'm breathing a tentative, "Whew." And I think they actually took off the oil change price because the bill was about that much less than the near $600 I'd been told.

My car now drives very nicely. No vibrations and it picks up speed much, much better. Thank you Universal Toyota! For all the bad rep that dealerships get, Universal is really a good one. I base this opinion on 3 things:1) when I bought the car they actually listened to me; 2) when I took it back for a check oil light the day I bought it they went beyond the usual level of investigation on the car and I ended up with a better than purchase loaner and a new short block free of charge; 3) a couple of years later when a check engine light kept coming on within a week of being investigated and repaired, they completed the last 3 investigations free of charge and did a $500+ dollar repair gratis too. Yeah, I could have gotten a cheaper oil change at Wal-Mart, but I wouldn't have gotten the level of service this dealership gives to its customers. So, if you live in the San Antonio area and need work on your Toyota I highly recommend them.


introspection said...

It happens to me all the time. You go with a small problem to the garage, they will tell you a certain repair will cost you say $200. You stretch your budget and ask them to go ahead. Then they'll call you to inform that some other problem was'll cost you another $400 for the original Japanese part and $ 150 for a chinese one. There goes all the smile out of your purse. You are lucky they have done a wonderful job of the whole project. Having a smooth running car is a blessing in it's own class.
Interesting post...!!!

Lee said...

Oh yeah, Introspection, that's happened to me a lot but not at the dealership. Thank you! Glad you liked the post! Hope any future car repairs go well for you.


~Tom~ said...

I actually had a garage tell me I needed to replace my fuel pump and it would run me about $430. I knew the pump was in the tank and under the back seat. I went to the garage after hours, and changed the part myself in about 20 minutes. Only cost me about $100 for the pump. Turned out to not even be that part! Grrrr

Lee said...

Hi Tom! I've had that happen too. The worst is when they put in part after part and then don't want to take them out or give you free parts because of the time they spent putting them in. If it doesn't fix the problem it shouldn't be charged to your account. That's my feelings at any rate.

Thanks for stopping in!


Count Sneaky said...

Please tell your dad to drop by anytime and leave a comment. The Count is atoothless old lion and doesn't bite.

Lee said...

Milord, I have passed your invitation along, it was to my mother who is the social bird of the household. She no doubt will go and read. I don't think either of them are comfortable iwth blogs and leaving comments. They read mine but do not comment.

Happy Holy Week!

CJ said...

Seems familiar.The problems always get bigger when you enter the garage.And its never only one problem it always gets compounded!!Its like a conspiracy between the car and mechanic!Atleast thats what I think!

Though we live in different continents the problems are so familiar!Its amazing

love chaitra

Lee said...

Good observation, Chaitra! We often think that communications makes the world smaller, but few attribute that reduction to the automobile. With today's media though we're probably going to learn many, many more ways that we are all part of one large global community.


Unknown said...

god i hate dealing with car people- mechanics etc- I always come away feeling so dumb !

Cheffie-Mom said...

Did you know I'm in Texas, too? East Texas. Have a super day!

Lee said...

Lisa, I totally understand! It does stagger the mind how these things shift and change. Some of the repair places listen to us and some do not. I was blessed to have some decent navy training in mechanics so I at least understand what is happening. Even with that I can't always keep up.


Lee said...

Hi Debbie, yeah, I knew you were in Texas. It just didn't click how close you might be. Small world isn't it?

You have a great day too!


myonlyphoto said...

Lee, ouch 450, but if you happy that is important. Last year I took break from Mazda and when to BMW because of their free service, lol, turn out to be disaster...I guess that's what you get for free, no quality and no customer service, just bunch of clowns. Anna :)

Lee said...

Hey Anna! Thank you! Yes, the price was a bit unsettling but if it had been the head gasket it would have been much much higher by several thousand. Yeah, I don't know if free is worth anything. When I bought the car it was "certified" and had been totally inspected so it came with an extended warrenty and a maintenance agreement that had a mere $50 copay when it needed anything large. I was glad to not pay even that when the replaced the engine that first time I drove it.

Good to see you here again!