Medicated Money

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What The Hell Are You Driving Here?

State Trooper: What the hell are you driving here?
Del: We had a small fire last night, but we caught it in the nick of time.
State Trooper: You feel this vehicle is safe for highway travel!
Del: Yes, I do. It's not pretty, but it will get you where you want to go.
State Trooper: You got no outside mirror. You have no functioning gauges?
Del: No, not one. However, the radio still works. Funny as that may seem, the radio's the only thing that's really working good!
-From Trains, Planes, & Automobiles

In starting off in this post, let me just state this disclaimer: I am not a car person, and therefore, know very little about cars. Well, that is not completely true. I think I know probably just about the same amount as the common American male; which Mrs. Medicated likes to point out is considerably less then I think I do.

With that being said, I am smart enough to know that a car is, for many, one of their largest investments (even though we do not include it on our net worth statement, but that is for another show...), and that routine maintenance is the key to keeping it running well. Unfortunately, Mrs. Medicated's car decided to shut down this week. To make matters worse, being a foreign car, my mechanic or any mechanic close to us could not fix the car. We ended up taking it to the dealership mechanic, who did every system check possible, tightened a few screws, and said they thought it was fixed with that. Great, nothing major wrong, and the car is running fine. I think the car gods were just having a bad week and took it out on her car for a week. Anyway, because we never took the car to this mechanic, they told me that they were going to do a 'multi-point inspection report' to get the 'state of the car' in the system. "How much does this cost?" I asked. 'Oh, nothing at all, this is a complimentary service.'

So we go to pick up the vehicle and the service manager comes out and proceeds to tell me about the 'bad news.' Long story short, the car is running fine, but thanks to the multi-point inspection report, the brakes are '3mm close to the disc' and the front tires are shot. He goes on to tell me that to replace the tires, they will need to special order the tires to replace the front two (these are the ones that came on the car new, and have 27,000 miles on them) and will cost $140/tire plus installment fee. To replace the brakes, it will cost $75 for the brakes and close to $225 for time to install it. So in other words, the inspection found roughly $600 worth of problems. Now, granted, the car was in the shop for 2 days being checked over and they only charged me $30. A part of me feels that in their eyes, they need to make up for that service with these services. I told them to do nothing, that I would think about everything (aka search for a better price), and let them know. The manager went on for about 10 minutes about the risk of driving the car in this condition and all the warnings of not driving the car to try and scare me into just having them do it. I said I understood the risks and left.

So after doing a little research, I definitely need new front tires. Why they are so bad I cannot figure out after 27,000, but they are. As for the brakes, they seem fine, but I will issue my disclaimer written above here. So here is the dilemma: Does the car really need these services or was it a ploy to make a couple of bucks by the dealership? And if the car does need these services, are these prices fair and competitive?

I figure I can research tires, find a better price, and go with that store instead of the dealership. For the brakes, I am stuck because I don't know of other mechanics to get price comparison from. I thought of taking it to a store like 'Just Brakes' and have them tell me a 2nd opinion, but I figured they are in the business to sell, and probably will also recommend a replacement. If this was my car, I would have it done not because it is mine, but rather the mechanic I take my car to, I trust completely.

Any suggestions on what I should do? Oh, if you think I stuck Mrs. Medicated with a bad car, don't worry, she stated that until I figure out what to do, her car is now my car and vice versa. As she joked, 'Since we are married, there is no yours or mine, just ours. And because I am the girl, I get first choice!' I think I just learned the meaning of marriage.

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