Monday, June 16, 2008

You may have noticed the distinct lack of many posts last week. Here's why that happened.

On Monday Lindsay was driving to Maryland to visit her family. Since school's out now, it seems as good a time as ever. Well about 1 hour away from her parents house, the service engine soon light came on. Now we need to back up a little, to when we were traveling to and from Toronto. The air conditioner in her car failed to provide constant cool air. I thought it may have happened because it was so hot and we had it on high, the car was struggling to keep the air cool. This seemed to make sense, as when it rained and cooled down some, the air had no trouble staying cold. Back to Maryland. One of the problems she was having was with the accelerator. She would press the gas and nothing would happen. Then all of a sudden (up to 10 seconds later) it would accelerate up to the right speed. I (being hundreds of miles away at this time) had diagnosed this as a problem with the fuel-pump. In fact it later turned out to be a problem with the O2 sensor.

She managed to arrive in her parents town and dropped the car off at the service station. The diagnosed the air conditioning problem as a clogged expansion valve. It's an easy fix... once you conveniently take the entire dashboard off. They didn't do any work on the air other than the diagnosis of the problem. That's something we could fix in Ohio. They did fix the O2 sensor though. $541 later, she was good to go. Or so we thought. She got 10 minutes into the return trip home and the service engine soon light came back on. Initially I thought this could be because they had failed to reset it. Unfortunately that was not the case. The now checked out the code and it was a clogged catalytic converter. No problem. A few hundred bucks and she can be on her way. Wrong. Her car is a partially zero emissions vehicle. How can you be partially zero? I don't know, but that's beside the point here. The shop called Mitsubishi and the part itself they said was $1000. To get it installed would be about $200. She asked if she could drive it home to get it fixed here, and they said she most likely could.

To be on the safe side, I told her I would meet her halfway home and follow her the rest of the way. So Thursday after work, I drove to Allegheny Valley Pennsylvania and met up with her and drove back home. We arrived home on Friday morning. I say that to be more dramatic. It was about 12:30 AM when we got home.

She called the Mitsubishi dealer here and they said that the replacement catalytic converter was $1500 plus 2 hours of labor. I want to know what makes this freaking thing so expensive. Regular cats run about $150. Why is this ten times more expensive? Is it made of gold? Anyway, after calling around it looks like we can get it for $925 + tax, installed, so that's what we're going to do.

The air conditioning requires a new expansion valve for $80, 1.5 hours of labor for $80, and a recharge of the system for $80.

Also, she needed a new tire because we ran over a S-hook on the highway and it went through the sidewall. That's thankfully only $125. So $1875 later, her car will be repaired. This comes on top of the $1200 that we spent on my brakes, my tune up, and replacing her serpentine belt just two months ago.

What's the moral of the story? Take public transportation. It's far less convenient, but also much cheaper. Oh, and it doesn't run anywhere near your house, so you get lots of exercise walking to it. And it doesn't run to where you work, unless you opt for the 3 hour tour to go 10 miles. So yeah. It's pretty great.


bmp1965 said...

Unless it's a warranty repair, why would you go to the dealership? Dealerships are always more expensive than the Mom & Pop place around the corner!!

Tim said...

For two reasons. One to get a baseline for the cost, and two because the dealers are apparently the only ones who can even get the part.

boilerdowd said...

When my heater core went out on my Element, I begrudgingly had to go to the dealer for the same reason...I ended up trading the car in because I couldn't stomach putting that much into a car.

Lindsay said...

The worst part of all of this... we're still paying my car off. Remind me never to purchase a brand new car again.

boilerdowd said...

But, but...Tim's getting the new GT-R next year.

Plang said...

This, by far, is the saddest story I've ever read. I'm just sitting here sobbing.

I had a problem with my old car that three trips to Firestone didn't fix, but 20 minutes at the dealership figured out the problem and they had the part. $800 later I was on my way. The dealership will screw you on the labor charges.

e said...

Actually, I have found that the dealer screws you with parts prices. They make their profits on parts. So I ask if I can supply the parts I buy at NAPA or wherever. If they say no, I go to a different place.

J Money said...

Nah, Linds, you could run into this with a used car, too, and then you might be even more mad because it was someone else who neglected it.

I wonder if you could have researched places to get the parts yourself and then just paid for the labor... besides the point now.

Tim said...

That's part of the problem. I couldn't find the right converter anywhere. I tried online. I tried Autozone, PepBoys, etc. The only place that had it was the dealer. We're taking it in on Thursday to a local place (the same place I got my brakes done).