unixknight

Controlling My Drive (Literally)

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So my car is in the shop right now for a recall to replace a pin in the steering column that was manufactured to be too short.  Given that there is an actual recall on it, we may safely assume a few late model Ford Fusions went out of control and crashed, which is not only how they realized there was a defect,  but that it was going to happen often enough that the less expensive option was to recall the vehicle rather than absorb the lawsuits.

So I take my car to the dealership (and I needed an oil change anyway) yesterday.  Now, I know how dealerships are.  I used to work at a dealership as a tech, so I can translate for you what I was told, for your Friday amusement:

 

When I asked for a quote on a transmission service:

"That's $250.  We flush the lines and replace the fluid with fresh, new transmission fluid.  That doesn't include the filter."

Translation:  We have a very expensive machine that pushes transmission fluid throughout the system and we need to overcharge you in order to recover the cost.

The actual procedure:  Drain the transmission fluid and refill.  (No, they don't drop the pan and replace the filter anymore, apparently.)  I  guess use the machine to flush it out.  Maybe.  Assuming the machine is in good working order.

 

So I get a voicemail yesterday evening to tell me that the oil change part was done, but they noticed some items I needed:

Air Filter: $20 installed (not too bad.  Don't really have anything to say about this.)

Cooling system flush: $160 (another expensive machine that may or may not use)  

The actual procedure:  Drain the coolant from the radiator and refill.  Maybe use the machine.  Maybe.

 

And then, my favorite part:

"We went to check your brakes but we couldn't get the wheels off, because the lugnut caps are swollen."  (Many late model Ford lugnuts are regular nuts with a chrome cap covering them.  Rust builds up between the cap and the lugnut causing the cap to swell, meaning you'd need to use a hammer to get a lug wrench or socket onto the nut, or use a larger size if you're lucky.  I already knew this because I did the rear brakes on my car in the driveway last year and I had to go through that headache.)  "If we force them off we could crack the caps."  (I'd say that's a good thing.  Then I can get a lug wrench on 'em easier.) "So we should replace all those which would run you $129."

No, that wasn't a typo.  They want 129 bucks for a set of lugnuts that would eventually have exactly the same problem.

Translation:  These otherwise ordinary lugnuts can be had for less than $30 for a set of 20 at any aftermarket parts shop but we're marking them up insanely for the blue oval logo on the package.  Hopefully then we can try and sell you brakes if you need them once the wheels are off.  In the meantime, we won't even check because if we mess up a lugnut we'd have to replace it for free if at all.

The beauty of such a sale is that not only would they make a huge profit margin on those lugnuts, the tech doesn't have to be paid flat rate for the time it takes to replace them since he'd be removing the nuts anyway just to check the brakes.  This is especially true if he were to replace the brakes.

So I called back this morning and left a message to not do any of that and to please go ahead and do the recall and button the car up.  10 minutes later I get a call that it's done and ready to go.  (This suggests to me that the recall may have been done already as well, but that it's easier to sell work to a customer if the car is still actively being worked on than if it had all been done and was ready to go.)

 

I write this not to bash the dealership.  It isn't that they're lying.  It's just that when you talk to the service advisor for a shop like that they have the advantage of superior knowledge of what's  going on.  They generally are not setting out to rip people off or to mislead... It's just that the advisor has a conflict of interest.  He's supposed to advise you of the condition of the car and your options, but he's also got to make sales.  That means they're gonna tend to emphasize the idea that you NEED this stuff, and they'll tend not to bring up less profitable alternatives.  Some places will actually present ALL the options, even if it doesn't benefit them, some places won't.  That should be your litmus test.  

For me personally, as a former auto tech, I know how to spot this stuff so I really don't care about establishing a relationship with a shop because I know how to interpret what they're telling me whether they're being candid or not.  We don't need to be friends, just fix my frickin' car.  Those other things I can and will do myself.  Heck, my other vehicle is a battered 20 year old Chevy pickup so working on my Fusion is a breeze.

This is why I always strongly recommend that if you aren't knowledgeable about cars, you always consult with someone who is before you agree to anything.  Going in there without that knowledge is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

 

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Believe it or not @unixknight, I am RIGHT NOW THIS VERY SECOND at the car delearship getting free breakfast and lunch because my car is in the shop.  My car is a 2010 model with 178K+ miles on it (it's been all over eastern USA from Maine to San Antonio).

So, this is what happened today.  One of my headlamps petered out.  So that's why I'm in the delearship.  Now, my car is a Cadillac and, American ingenuity has it that you can't just replace the lightbulb by pulling the bulb and plopping a new one in.  No... you have to TAKE OFF THE BUMPER so you can access the lightbulb.  So a $20 routine is now $200 because of the labor.  But then, the mechanic said the lightbulb blew out because the light assembly is cracked so moisture seeps into the assembly.  So, they can't just replace the lightbulb because it won't take too long and the bulb is going to peter out again.  So they have to replace the entire assembly... That's now... tat-tada.... SIXTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.

But, because I'm such a lucky gal, the office dude told me I should have received material from a class action lawsuit about that light assembly cracking and the settlement covers for full reimbursement of any $ you spent fixing the light assembly.  Cool beans!  Except, I don't know what I did with the mail because I thought it was junk mail so it's in the trash bin.  No problem!  The office guy had another letter sent to me, should get here next week.  EXCEPT... the way it works is - they REIMBURSE you for whatever you spent fixing the car... which means... I have to actually PAY FOR THE FIXING first.  And they guy said... well, while you're at it, you might as well replace both assemblies as the other side would probably crack too.  So... to replace both light assemblies is TWENTY-SIX HUNDRED.  Don't ask me how the math works out.  I don't like thinking about money things.  I just swipe a card and if it doesn't say Declined, you can have my money.

So, I'm here waiting for the loaner car... A BRAND NEW XT4  HAH!  while they keep my car.  The office dude is trying to get me to keep the loaner... 178K+ miles ya know... they'll even pay for the $2600 light assembly...

But, I'm not in the market for a new car.  I love love love love my old car.

Anyway, wish you were here to tell me I just got swindled.  :)

 

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1 hour ago, anatess2 said:

Believe it or not @unixknight, I am RIGHT NOW THIS VERY SECOND at the car delearship getting free breakfast and lunch because my car is in the shop.  My car is a 2010 model with 178K+ miles on it (it's been all over eastern USA from Maine to San Antonio).

So, this is what happened today.  One of my headlamps petered out.  So that's why I'm in the delearship.  Now, my car is a Cadillac and, American ingenuity has it that you can't just replace the lightbulb by pulling the bulb and plopping a new one in.  No... you have to TAKE OFF THE BUMPER so you can access the lightbulb.  So a $20 routine is now $200 because of the labor.  But then, the mechanic said the lightbulb blew out because the light assembly is cracked so moisture seeps into the assembly.  So, they can't just replace the lightbulb because it won't take too long and the bulb is going to peter out again.  So they have to replace the entire assembly... That's now... tat-tada.... SIXTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.

But, because I'm such a lucky gal, the office dude told me I should have received material from a class action lawsuit about that light assembly cracking and the settlement covers for full reimbursement of any $ you spent fixing the light assembly.  Cool beans!  Except, I don't know what I did with the mail because I thought it was junk mail so it's in the trash bin.  No problem!  The office guy had another letter sent to me, should get here next week.  EXCEPT... the way it works is - they REIMBURSE you for whatever you spent fixing the car... which means... I have to actually PAY FOR THE FIXING first.  And they guy said... well, while you're at it, you might as well replace both assemblies as the other side would probably crack too.  So... to replace both light assemblies is TWENTY-SIX HUNDRED.  Don't ask me how the math works out.  I don't like thinking about money things.  I just swipe a card and if it doesn't say Declined, you can have my money.

So, I'm here waiting for the loaner car... A BRAND NEW XT4  HAH!  while they keep my car.  The office dude is trying to get me to keep the loaner... 178K+ miles ya know... they'll even pay for the $2600 light assembly...

But, I'm not in the market for a new car.  I love love love love my old car.

Anyway, wish you were here to tell me I just got swindled.  :)

 

Well if you're being reimbursed, then I guess you aren't being swindled.  

If it were me and I wasn't gonna get reimbursed, I'd probably look for used parts or aftermarket if possible, because I've happily driven entire cars that cost me less than one of your headlight assemblies.  The car I'm driving  now (a 2015 Fusion) is literally the nicest car I've ever owned as my personal vehicle... and as cars go, a Fusion is kinda middle of the road.  But to me, it's a luxury liner.  

Edited by unixknight

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57 minutes ago, unixknight said:

Well if you're being reimbursed, then I guess you aren't being swindled.  

If it were me and I wasn't gonna get reimbursed, I'd probably look for used parts or aftermarket if possible, because I've happily driven entire cars that cost me less than one of your headlight assemblies.  The car I'm driving  now (a 2015 Fusion) is literally the nicest car I've ever owned as my personal vehicle... and as cars go, a Fusion is kinda middle of the road.  But to me, it's a luxury liner.  

I’ve just driven 60 miles on this brand new XT4.  This car is driving me completely bonkers!  The stupid car gives me resistance when I drift into the next lane.  It won’t give me resistance if I put the blinkers on.  And..  if you put less than 3 seconds worth of space between you and any car around you, the stupid chair vibrates and red lights start flashing...  STUPID IDIOT CAR, YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!!!

Ahh, Unix, you’ll hate this car too!

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Even after 2+ years of having this car I'm still reeling form the fact that with the car's built-in voice commands, I've literally had a conversation with my car... and it can (and has), on its own initiative, used my phone to place a phonecall that I wasn't involved in.  (It can call a phone number and upload a vehicle health report which can be accessed online.) 

Yeah.  My car placed a phonecall, I've had conversations with it (and I'm not even crazy.)  And there's nothing particularly special about it.  We're living in the future.

And then... It hits me...

OMG I LITERALLY OWN A TALKING CAR.

You can call me Michael Knight.

71dBYZYXywL._SX466_.jpg

My family has been bugging me to give my car a name... and now I have it... My car's name is K.I.T.T.  What do you think?  Not the same but... not too different:

2014_ford_fusion-hybrid_sedan_se_fq_oem_

(Not my actual car, but this is pretty close to what it looks like.)  

 

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3 minutes ago, unixknight said:

Even after 2+ years of having this car I'm still reeling form the fact that with the car's built-in voice commands, I've literally had a conversation with my car... and it can (and has), on its own initiative, used my phone to place a phonecall that I wasn't involved in.  (It can call a phone number and upload a vehicle health report which can be accessed online.) 

Yeah.  My car placed a phonecall, I've had conversations with it (and I'm not even crazy.)  And there's nothing particularly special about it.  We're living in the future.

And then... It hits me...

OMG I LITERALLY OWN A TALKING CAR.

You can call me Michael Knight.

71dBYZYXywL._SX466_.jpg

My family has been bugging me to give my car a name... and now I have it... My car's name is K.I.T.T.  What do you think?  Not the same but... not too different:

2014_ford_fusion-hybrid_sedan_se_fq_oem_

(Not my actual car, but this is pretty close to what it looks like.)  

 

So, this is why I don't have a Ford.  The one and only Ford I ever owned was a Ford Pony.  They should have called it a peanut wagon because it's closer to a peanut wagon than a pony.   Before I even made my first payment on the thing, I totaled it on a head-on collision after it slid on ice in Ohio.  The insurance would only pay me half the price of what I paid for the car, so I told the insurance I'm going to go ahead and have it repaired.  8 months later, the car skidded on an entrance ramp when it was raining, hit a tour bus, and flew to a lake.  No more car.  I get to ride the Rescue Van for the first time in my life which was super cool.

My current car's name is Bilbo.  I didn't name him.  My kids did.  They call him Bilbo because he looks like an SUV but is way smaller.

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10 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

So, this is why I don't have a Ford.  The one and only Ford I ever owned was a Ford Pony.  They should have called it a peanut wagon because it's closer to a peanut wagon than a pony.   Before I even made my first payment on the thing, I totaled it on a head-on collision after it slid on ice in Ohio.  The insurance would only pay me half the price of what I paid for the car, so I told the insurance I'm going to go ahead and have it repaired.  8 months later, the car skidded on an entrance ramp when it was raining, hit a tour bus, and flew to a lake.  No more car.  I get to ride the Rescue Van for the first time in my life which was super cool.

My current car's name is Bilbo.  I didn't name him.  My kids did.  They call him Bilbo because he looks like an SUV but is way smaller.

Well *my* Ford has traction control and anti-lock brakes.  :whistling:

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30 minutes ago, unixknight said:

Well *my* Ford has traction control and anti-lock brakes.  :whistling:

So did the Pony.  Doesn’t matter when you’re taking the sharp curve of the freeway entrance ramp at 55mph in the rain. :D

 

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10 hours ago, unixknight said:

Yeah.  My car placed a phonecall, I've had conversations with it (and I'm not even crazy.)  And there's nothing particularly special about it.  We're living in the future.

And then... It hits me...

OMG I LITERALLY OWN A TALKING CAR.

You can call me Michael Knight.

Nice timing for this post. I just started watching Knight Rider yesterday.

The car functionality I'm waiting for is its ability to drop thieves off at the police station should it get stolen and then come find me.

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@unixknight, you won’t believe this.  Same car.  When I took it to get the headlights fixed, the mechanic said my tires are bald. Yes, yes.  I agree.  My tires are almost smooth.  So I had them replace the tires today.  $900.  No problem.  4 Michellins balanced for less than $250 each.  I piled on $150 for alignment.  Fine.

So they took out the tires and told me the brakes are shot.  There’s even a crack on the front one. 

I walked out of there with ANOTHER TWENTY-SIX HUNDRED charge on my bank card.

I need you to fly here before I take my car to the shop again.  I betcha paying for your plane ticket would be cheaper.

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13 hours ago, anatess2 said:

@unixknight, you won’t believe this.  Same car.  When I took it to get the headlights fixed, the mechanic said my tires are bald. Yes, yes.  I agree.  My tires are almost smooth.  So I had them replace the tires today.  $900.  No problem.  4 Michellins balanced for less than $250 each.  I piled on $150 for alignment.  Fine.

So they took out the tires and told me the brakes are shot.  There’s even a crack on the front one. 

I walked out of there with ANOTHER TWENTY-SIX HUNDRED charge on my bank card.

I need you to fly here before I take my car to the shop again.  I betcha paying for your plane ticket would be cheaper.

Sure.  I'll fix your brakes for a case of Pepsi.

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On 4/5/2019 at 10:55 AM, anatess2 said:

  And they guy said... well, while you're at it, you might as well replace both assemblies as the other side would probably crack too.  So... to replace both light assemblies is TWENTY-SIX HUNDRED. 

Anyway, wish you were here to tell me I just got swindled.  :)

 

my first 6 cars combined didn't cost $2600.

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17 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

@anatess2, I’m no car guru; but methinks you mechanic needs something very, very bad done to him. 

It's the dealership that sets the prices, not the tech.  As long as the work was legitimately needed, he's not the one to blame.

The headlight assemblies are as expensive as the manufacturer decides they are and that Caddy logo jacks the price up just like the little glowing apple does on certain laptops.  The labor?  Well yeah it's ridiculous to have to remove the bumper cover to get at the assembly which sounds a lot like a poor design decision that may or may not have been made as a way to wring more money out of their customers.  (I don't care what the style is, I will not be convinced that it was absolutely necessary to do it that way from a design standpoint.)  

That said, we can certainly have a conversation about whether it's reasonable to charge such high process for a brake job on a Cadillac when it's no more difficult to do a brake job on one of them than it is to do a brake job on a Chevy.  The second $2600 - 900(tires) - 150(alignment) = $1550 for brakes.  That's absurd.  Was it all 4 wheels?  Did they replace rotors as well or just the pads?  The prices of those parts would account for a lot since, again, Cadillac pricing.

The price @anatess2 paid for the tires and alignment sound about right for a set of Michelins (though you can get better deals than that... I insist on Michelins on my car too but I got a full set at Sam's for $600 installed... buy 3 get one free.)

 

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32 minutes ago, unixknight said:

It's the dealership that sets the prices, not the tech.  As long as the work was legitimately needed, he's not the one to blame.

The headlight assemblies are as expensive as the manufacturer decides they are and that Caddy logo jacks the price up just like the little glowing apple does on certain laptops.  The labor?  Well yeah it's ridiculous to have to remove the bumper cover to get at the assembly which sounds a lot like a poor design decision that may or may not have been made as a way to wring more money out of their customers.  (I don't care what the style is, I will not be convinced that it was absolutely necessary to do it that way from a design standpoint.)  

That said, we can certainly have a conversation about whether it's reasonable to charge such high process for a brake job on a Cadillac when it's no more difficult to do a brake job on one of them than it is to do a brake job on a Chevy.  The second $2600 - 900(tires) - 150(alignment) = $1550 for brakes.  That's absurd.  Was it all 4 wheels?  Did they replace rotors as well or just the pads?  The prices of those parts would account for a lot since, again, Cadillac pricing.

The price @anatess2 paid for the tires and alignment sound about right for a set of Michelins (though you can get better deals than that... I insist on Michelins on my car too but I got a full set at Sam's for $600 installed... buy 3 get one free.)

 

All rotors replaced, not just pads.  By the way, $400 of that $2600 was to replace the sensors on all 4 tires.  I got these magic tires that tell me what the tire pressure is on the dash.  It's been broken for a couple years.  I went ahead and had them replaced since they're replacing all 4 tires.

So, the office guy that got me on that XT4 loaner was like... So, shall I pull the paperwork?  I told him... nah.  That XT4 that was bossing me around was $45K (I drove a fully loaded version.  The base is $35K).  I'd rather spend $5200 a year for the next 5 years fixing my sweet car than pay $12K a year on a new one.

By the way... just to replace a bulb... not the entire assembly... is $400.  So ok, it's one of those high intensity discharge bulbs but yeah... you have to remove the bumper.

Edited by anatess2

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1 hour ago, anatess2 said:

All rotors replaced, not just pads.  By the way, $400 of that $2600 was to replace the sensors on all 4 tires.  I got these magic tires that tell me what the tire pressure is on the dash.  It's been broken for a couple years.  I went ahead and had them replaced since they're replacing all 4 tires.

So, the office guy that got me on that XT4 loaner was like... So, shall I pull the paperwork?  I told him... nah.  That XT4 that was bossing me around was $45K (I drove a fully loaded version.  The base is $35K).  I'd rather spend $5200 a year for the next 5 years fixing my sweet car than pay $12K a year on a new one.

My son works at a Honda dealer as a tech and he frequently has to deal with those sensors.  (I don't think these sensors send out the specific pressure though, I think they're more like switches that let you know when the pressure crosses the threshold of being too low.)  Here's the thing:   They usually only need to be replaced when they get broken, which can very easily happen when a tech is changing a tire. 

In other words, it's possible that  you got charged for 4 new tire sensors that you either didn't need, or that the tech broke but they made you pay for them.  I don't know, maybe with Cadillacs you do change them regularly, but I would want to see that written in an actual Cadillac shop manual, and not hear it from someone who has a conflict of interest.

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11 minutes ago, unixknight said:

My son works at a Honda dealer as a tech and he frequently has to deal with those sensors.  (I don't think these sensors send out the specific pressure though, I think they're more like switches that let you know when the pressure crosses the threshold of being too low.)  Here's the thing:   They usually only need to be replaced when they get broken, which can very easily happen when a tech is changing a tire. 

In other words, it's possible that  you got charged for 4 new tire sensors that you either didn't need, or that the tech broke but they made you pay for them.  I don't know, maybe with Cadillacs you do change them regularly, but I would want to see that written in an actual Cadillac shop manual, and not hear it from someone who has a conflict of interest.

These are pressure sensors.  My dash displays the psi of all 4 tires.  I don't have a spare tire.  Rather, I have an air compressor with those "fix a flat" thingee for tears.  So, I can top the air on the tires anytime using the dash for a pressure gauge.  If I get a tire that makes it so the car can't hold air, I can use the fix-a-flat feature and it will allow the tire to hold air until I get the tire replaced.  That's the thing though - you use the fix-a-flat feature, and you'll have to replace the tire because they can't vulcanize the tire anymore.

The car has cool sensors everywhere - like, the oil sensor doesn't just sense oil level, it also senses viscosity.  But the problem with having all these fancy electronic features is... there's a lot of stuff that can break.  The tire pressure sensor has been broken for a couple years now.

 

Edited by anatess2

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16 minutes ago, unixknight said:

Yeah I know.  I was talking about he Honda sensors being only switches.  

Oh!  Yeah, that's what my brother's car has.  He has an Accord.

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3 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

Oh!  Yeah, that's what my brother's car has.  He has an Accord.

I  guess it's probably a common feature these days, my wife's car (a Focus) and mine have it as well.  Useful, but it does make us lazy about checking with a gauge.  Tires can be low without being low enough to trigger the switch and that leads to uneven tire wear.

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20 minutes ago, unixknight said:

I  guess it's probably a common feature these days, my wife's car (a Focus) and mine have it as well.  Useful, but it does make us lazy about checking with a gauge.  Tires can be low without being low enough to trigger the switch and that leads to uneven tire wear.

That's the cool thing about the pressure sensor.  Tire pressure changes according to weather and drive time.  When it's right there on the dash, it's easy to hop out and adjust the air... I mean, I never do it - I get my kids to do it.  Hah hah.

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I just changed the brakes on my car yesterday, brake pads were still under warranty so I paid $0.00 for new brake pads, less than a dollar on grease, and 3 or 4 bucks on the brake cleaner. My rotors we're finally done in, they were too thin to machine, so I had to buy new ones, 100 bucks for two rotors. $15 bucks for a shiny new 18" breaker bar because the bolts that hold my brake caliper brackets are a bear to get off.

I told my wife, "The calipers aren't touching the brake pads, the brakes will feel funny, give them some pumps untill they feel normal"

She calls me "You need to come out here, I just rolled down the driveway!"

Did she pump the brakes first? Nope, she thought I meant while she was driving. 

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