As if I don’t have enough stress right now…

11 10 2008

Monday as I was driving the kids to give E a nap in the car, I lost my brakes. Thank God it wasn’t scary and we pulled onto a side street right away and called for a tow.

There’s a mechanic here in town that we trust a lot. His son (also works there) happens to be The Husband’s best friend’s brother’s best friend (follow that? Did I mention we live in a small town?). And the shop is highly respected by others as well.

However, in this case, they felt my minivan was better transferred to a Toyota Dealership because I guess the ABS system is unusually complex or something. So they drove it to the nearest one and didn’t charge me a cent.

And here starts my Week ‘O Hell (as if brake problems are not hell enough).

I knew that it was more than just the brake pads, because those had been checked recently and looked great. So I knew I was in for a hefty bill, and I was just feeling glad that I had the money for it.

Let me try and remember this all in ordered bullets. If this is boring you can feel free to ignore it. But I want to keep it recorded somewhere in case I need to refer to it all.

~Car towed to Ted’s Garage around 1pm Monday.
~Car referred to Toyota CV on Tuesday. Ted drove it over for me around 12.
~Greg T called me around 4:15 PM to tell me that he’d looked it over and found no problems with it and that it was drivable and I could come get it. Um….. I had a HUGE problem with the fact that MY BRAKES FAILED and they were totally OK with sending me home w/o FIXING anything. He did, however, have a problem with the brake fluid – he said it was “too clear” and he asked me in an accusatory tone if Ted’s had done anything to it. God only knows why clear brake fluid would be a bad thing, but he sure was disturbed.
~I kept him on the phone by explaining that for months I had been feeling like it’s been harder to stay stopped at red lights, but I didn’t trust myself – it was so subtle that I thought I was imagining it. Once I told him this, he changed tones and said, “Oh, OK, I know what that is, I’l do some tests and call you in 15 minutes” Only he never did call back. Two hours later I called to check on it and they had closed.
~I called right away the next morning and he told me, “It’s my day off, but I came in just to work on your car! I’ll call you in an hour.” Four hours later he was gone and no work had been done on my van.
~By this point I’m getting nervous and wondering if I should pull the van out and take it somewhere else, wondering if I can even trust them to do my brakes properly. I can’t risk losing brakes with my babies in the car, you know? I’m a little picky about my car’s brakes working properly.
~I tried asking the mechanic who took over why they would send me home without fixing brakes that had failed, but he dodged my questions like a politican (really they should think about replacing Sarah Pailin with this guy).
~Finally the Service manager called me and explained it in a way that I could maybe accept. He said Greg had done some adjustments and thought that fixed the problem. They kept explaining to me that since master cylinders “hardly ever fail” they didn’t, you know, CHECK it at first.
~At this point I am told it is DEFINITELY the master cylinder, but maybe also the booster. But they are going to do the master cylinder first because they are 80% sure that’s the problem. So I am expecting to pay anywhere from $500-$1500 at this point. *sigh*
~I did, however, flip out on them and got us a rental car for free. I honestly cannot believe that they didn’t WANT to give it to me. They give them out with major services that cost less and take only one day, but it took me flipping out on them to give us one. Pft.
~After talking to some people I know who happen to be mechanics of varying degrees, I decided to call them and see if they could just do both together. But when I called in the morning I got no answer for three hours. Finally, around 11am, I called again and there was a message that they were closed for “the holiday”. I dunno, but I think it’s a teensy bit inappropriate to not tell someone when you are going to be closed, no? But just add that to the list of awesome communication.
~Friday I called and it turns out the master cylinder hadn’t arrived (I think what they meant to say was “hadn’t been ordered”) so it would be another day. Fun times.
~Saturday when *I* called them – please note how they never call ME – Greg informed me that suddenly the brake fluid was black. And here’s where I lost control. Because it was not black before. And since it wasn’t black when I brought it in, that is OBVIOUSLY not the reason my brakes failed. And sicne it was only SITTING THERE IN THEIR GARAGE I cannot see how it possibly turned black unless Voldemort himself broke in and magicked it black. I told him as much and he heartily agreed, “Yes! It is a Great Mystery! It’ll cost you $100 for a full system flush!” Fucker. He spent the phone call asking me accusatory questions like, “Have you taken your car to a Jiffy Lube recently?” (No.) or blaming Ted’s again. Diverting attention?
~So, at the advice of a friend’s husband who is a mechanic, I told him to do the damn cylinder, flush the damn system and then I’d get it.
~This afternoon he calls me and GUESS WHAT? Right. Brakes are still failing. Booster is needed. But guess what else? The cost of the booster suddenly went up by $300 bringing it to a total of $1300 for the booster and $1800+ total.
~I think they are trying to sell me a new car.

It’s not going to work, of course, because I cannot afford a new car. But at this rate I cannot afford a new house, either. Or, you know, groceries or electricity.

Come Monday the plan is to call Ted’s and see what they say and see if they will fix the booster. If not, we’ll be calling around to find a place that does it cheaper – or at the very least, more honestly.

Wish us luck?

Pumpkin patch pictures to come.

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4 responses

11 10 2008
Sonja

Car dealerships = eeeevil. You know, so evil that you have to say “eeeeevil.”
Good for you for not taking his crap!

11 10 2008
Elaine

So sorry this turned into such shit. I hate that these guys pull that crap and then I have to explain to people that I’m not the spawn of Satan just because my dad is a mechanic. Not all of them are eeeeeevil, but dealerships sure do seem to have a higher instances of the eeeeeevil gene. Sigh.

12 10 2008
Jess

in our experience, dealership= more broken car than it came in with. We learned a painful expensive lesson with my Honda a couple years back. We only go to a non-dealerhip special Honda shop now and we love them.

GOOD LUCK!

12 10 2008
ZebraBelly

Yes, well, I have had good experiences with dealerships, too. IME it seems that they change staff every few years and it depends on who is in charge. I have never been to this one and I sure as Hell won’t be going back.

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