....are so challenging to the car-challenged! And how do you find a mechanic you can trust? I just went through a frustrating series of events with Northside Toyota, who I do not recommend anyone patronizing. Here's why. In June, I needed a new heat shield under my car (didn't even know that part existed!) I took my car to Northside because they had done some work on another Toyota I'd had and had been so nice. They recommended I do a diagnostic test to the tune of $149, to which I said, "Do I really need that?" and they said it was the only way to see if other stuff needed to be done. When all was said and done, I needed a new battery and front brakes. Big bucks. But necessary.
Last week, I was driving to Indianapolis in a terrible rainstorm and heard something that sounded like it was stuck under my car. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to Indy (bad visibility and scary driving conditions), but when I pulled off the road to see what the heck the sound was, I didn't see anything. Turns out that my rear brakes on the passenger side were metal on metal! Something I can't believe wasn't at its first stages in June when I spent that $149!
I took my car back to Northside on Monday. When I dropped off the car, the dude at the dealership (Life Lesson number 6,478,242: NEVER take your car to a dealer for service!), told me they would have to do another diagnostic test to the tune of $149, even though I told him exactly what was wrong and showed him where my brakes had been scraping metal to metal. I was so pissed and said, "Nope, I'm not going to pay for that." He said, "Oh, don't worry, I'll make sure we don't charge you for that." I told him how upset I was that I'm back only a month later and that they didn't see that these brakes were in the shape they were in then. He says, "Well, you've driven 800 miles since then." I said, "So what? Y'all should have told me that they were not in great shape!" He tried to placate me and said he'd e-mail an estimate that evening.
My friend picked me up for our softball game later that day from the dealership. When we were at the bar after softball on Monday night, I got the estimate: over $900!!!!!! I was with two long-time guy friends and they were both like THAT'S TOTAL CRAP. One of them googled places both near the dealership where the car was and near me. He found a place within walking distance of me. The dude from the dealership called me while I was at the very noisy bar. I stepped outside to talk to him. He was all smooth and whatever and said he could take off another $120 with coupons and also remove the $149 charge (which was in that $900 estimate!), bringing the total to almost $700. I said, "Person to person, not you as a person working for Northside Toyota, if I were your girlfriend or mother or sister, you know you would tell me that that's way too high and you'd tell me to go someplace else!" I told him not to do anything and to let me think about it.
Tuesday morning, I walked to the place my friend had found, a father and son little place that I've passed a million times and never noticed. Stellar reviews on yelp. I talked to the son and told him what I needed and asked if he could give me an estimate without seeing the car. Yep -- $350.00. And he'd also look the car over to make sure everything else was in good working condition -- no charge! SOLD! So Tuesday was a TOTAL pain in the butt! I took two trains and a bus to get to the dealership to take the car to the other folks. When I said I was there to pick up my car, they tried to charge me $159! I very calmly said, "No, that's not happening." (Honestly, pretty proud of myself that I didn't lose my shit!) In the end, they removed the charge and gave me my car. End of story: my car is fixed, the new mechanics are awesome, and I'm so grateful to my friends for helping me. Whew!!!!
So the moral of the story: Don't take your car to the dealer. Even if you need a part exclusive to your car, your mechanic can order it. It does not have to be through the dealer. The only time you have to go to a dealer is if there's some sort of recall. Always get another estimate or two. And good friends ROCK :-)
And just to end on a beautiful note, here's gorgeous Wright Woods. Have a fabulous day!