Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wow! I can't believe it's been over a month since I've sat down to "blog". Its been a super busy time (as it is for most of us I'm sure)! The girls are loving all the early winter snow and I lucked out at a thrift store and found M2 a new to us LL Bean jacket and snowpants for $4 (the best thing about little kid sizes is that they're hardly used at all)! I really like that we all have at least 2 full sets (jacket, pants, boots) of snow gear .. We're outside pretty much every day (the windy days I can't handle!) and the dryer would have been sure to get a workout .. with more than one set everything is sure to dry out before the next outing!

We also had to get the van into the shop to get the brakes done and a general "checkup" since we hit 150,000. Being in a new area where we didn't know of any reliable mechanics, we were relieved when it was discovered that the father of one of the young men Mr. M works with own a very nice looking repair shop that always busy (my thinking being he must be good to be so busy!) we'd driven by numerous times and we dropped off the van. It turns out that there's a grocery list of issues that need to be addresses .. some minor that we knew about like the front passenger window motor was bad and some major like the lower intake manifold gasket is leaking and need to be fixed before coolant leaks into the engine! I read through the estimate to figure out what we can afford to do next (other than the engine destroying gasket being replaced) and I'm thinking that all of these prices seem insanely high .. not that I'm a mechanic of course but I can change my own oil and spent lots of time in shops helping my dad repair his "classic" cars and I know it shouldn't cost $175 to replace a fuel filter .. Mr. M and I did one last summer on the Escort and the filter was about $10 and took less than an hour .. so $175? I don't think so! And don't get me started on the tires! $400 to install 4 basic all season tires that are less than $50 per tire retail? You can take tires to Walmart and have them mounted and balanced for $7.50 a tire!

Anyway! I started calling around to local mechanics and happened to talk to the service manager at our local Chevy Dealer and was surprised to find that the estimate we have is ridiculously marked up over the price that the dealership is charging! Over 150% on some items and on the "big, must do now or your engine will blow up" we're talking $200 more than the dealership! Amazing what an hour on the internet looking prices of parts and tires and calling a few "second opinions" can save you! So Mr. M is dropping off the van at the dealership on Monday, picking up the courtesy car and a GM certified mechanic is going to keep our grocery getter/kid hauler in fine running condition! I certainly never would have thought that the dealership would be the least expensive for repairs!

Moral of the story? Just like life you can't take anything at face value and must trust your instincts .. if something seems fishy, or over priced, it just might be!


Jen said...

Wow, great deals at the thrift store for sure! A friend of mine just spent $50 on one pair of new snow pants for her toddler.

Lisa said...

Dealerships are really getting their act together on service these days. When I recommended the dealership service department to a friend who just moved into town, she was quite surprised, since dealerships have a reputation for being notoriously overpriced.

However, I have found that they are actually better (and more reliable) than our top-rated local auto repair place, which botched a brake job by not regrinding the rotor and then told me that the squealing noise was nothing but brake dust.

It pays to call around!