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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Tuesday (10/9/12) 4:05pm - ... wherein Peter has car trouble.

Some info about the fun I've been having with my car lately:

Some of you might recall that, when I got back from Chicago, my car was completely dead.  Like, "the remote locks wouldn't even open" dead.  At that point, I got AAA to jump-start the car, drove to AutoZone, and got them to recharge the battery, drove it around for a while, and was okay from there on out.[1]

Cut to my getting back from Hawaii.  Before the trip, I put a float charger on the battery to make sure I wouldn't have another "dead electronics surprise", and I was careful to unplug my iPod from the car.  Anyway, I get back, and the car won't start.  It's not as bad as post-Chicago -- the basic electronics worked okay, there just wasn't enough juice to start the engine.

I call AAA again.  They jump the battery, and they tell me to let it idle for half an hour.  I call them again the next day so that they can come back and test the battery -- it tests fine (as does the alternator).  Again, the technician advises letting it idle for a half-hour.  But after that, every time I start the car, it starts a little weaker, until it's barely starting at all.[2]  So I drop it off in the early afternoon at Leonard's Automotive.

They didn't get to it 'til the next day, nor did they contact me to tell me they wouldn't get to it 'til the next day.  Their conclusion: the battery is dead.  This is lucky, I think, because the battery is still under warranty from AAA.  So a AAA technician comes around, *again*, looks at the car and concludes... the battery is fine.  He further tells me that the previous technicians were wrong: I shouldn't have just let the car idle for half an hour, I should have driven it at highway speeds for about forty-five minutes or so.  So I go and do that.

At this point, it seems like the car is alright.  I got home from my highway adventure (yay scenic 360), and it started again after I parked.[3]

--

Side note: I don't really trust Leonard's at this point.  When I came to pick up my car after the battery issue, I also brought them a list of scheduled maintenance I wanted them to price out.  This was the list I gave them:  10K checks, 20K checks, replace cabin air filter, check drive belt, change oil, rotate tires.

They came back with, not prices for what I'd asked for, but a list of services that the mechanic had already decided I needed:
* Cabin air filter - $110
* Power steering flush - $70
* Transmission service - $185
* Fuel injection cleaning - $110
* Wiper blades - $50
* Radiator hoses + coolant flush - $260
* Front + rear struts - $950

So, we have:  (1) no oil or tires; (2) some things that are hilariously overpriced (the air filter costs $15 and takes, like, 5 minutes to replace); (3) some things that are really unnecessary (the struts are largely a ride-comfort issue).  And moreover, there was no *feedback* on what any of these things were, how bad the car's current condition was, and how necessary the maintenance was in the first place.  At my usual mechanic -- KC Automotive -- this is just de rigeur for recommended maintenance: make sure the customer understands the situation and can accurately evaluate their options.  This had a vibe of, "Ooh, let's try & rack up a couple thousand in fees."

Anyway.  I have a car that starts for now, and I'll probably bring it by KC's soonish for a second opinion.

ETA: It turned out to be a bad starter.  So not only did Leonard's gin up $2,000 of debatable maintenance, they misdiagnosed the actual car problem.

______
[1] Side note: I get a call from AutoZone saying the battery is dead.  But then I check with them later and they say, no, the machine must've been acting up, the battery is fine.
[2] Also, every time I turn on the headlights, the dashboard electronics all go almost completely dark.  This turns out to be just because the dashboard dimmer was turned all the way down -- which I swear was the first thing I checked.
[3] ... and was that start a tiny bit weak?  I don't know.  Maybe.  At this point, I'm paranoid.

Tags:
Mood: [mood icon] annoyed
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Comments:

From:spamchang
Date:Tuesday (10/9/12) 4:54pm
(Link)
Yeah, that Leonard's list is pretty much BS. You could probably change your own air filter! That's an easy one. Changing oil is also relatively easy.
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