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A lesson learned
I learned a valuable lesson recently when taking my secondhand car to an area dealership for servicing: Always beware if the mechanic comes out smiling.
It's even more frightening if the mechanic proceeds to say something like, "There's something very wrong with your car!" with barely concealed excitement.
In my case, it was twofold: 1) the engine — the completed valve cover gaskets leaking oil into the spark plug chambers, and 2) the steering — the inner tie rods becoming too loose to remain safe. From the way it was described, it sounded like the wheel could come apart in my hands during my next road trip.
To cover both repairs, I was told, would cost $1,220.95. The inner tie rods accounted for a good chunk of that at a hefty $686.
If I hadn't been so aware of my tight budget, I may have signed up for another appointment. My father, though, suggested that I check out the auto repair shop of a good friend. Neither of us had ever been to it, but we wanted a second opinion.
By the end of the auto repair shop inspection, the service director on duty turned to me without a smile, and I liked him better already. "You're probably not going to like my answer any more than the first place," he said, almost apologetically. "We agree that you should replace the tie rods, and we probably should look into replacing the valve cover gaskets."
His estimate? Overall — total — both jobs came to $488.55.
I emerged about $500 lighter, but grateful I wasn't a thousand bucks in the red. The whole experience, though, has rather turned me off dealerships. Has anyone else out there had a similar wake-up call? Or what kind of steps have you taken to avoid such scenarios?