Monday, January 9, 2012

Drivers Beware

As any of my friends would know, I have recently had to make a lot of repairs to my car. This is a story that I think the less car savvy should be informed of so that they don't get taken by the dishonest mechanics of the world.

A couple of weeks ago I got my muffler replaced, and after that noise was resolved I started to hear another sound that worried me: a clunking, rubbing, dragging sort of noise. So I took my car back to the Muffler Man that had just changed my muffler to have them check it out. Less than half an hour later I'm reduced to tears as one of the mechanics informs me that I need new front wheel bearings that will set me back $244, and that if I don't get it done soon my right wheel will fly off & likely kill somebody as I drive down the expressway. As I cry, the guy tells me it's ok and not so bad, and he makes me an offer to work on my car on the side for only $150. But I can't tell his employers because he'd get fired.

Well, for some reason or other I was skeptical that the wheel bearings were truly my problem. So I did some research & called my mom & planned to take my car to a mechanic that my friend recommended for a second opinion. My research (and my mother's conversation with a trusted mechanic back home) indicated that faulty wheel bearings would result in a humming or grinding noise (not my clunking that I was hearing) and a great deal of wobbling if they were bad enough to need to be replaced as emergently as this mechanic had led me to believe.

Fast forward to a few days later when I manage to get an appointment with the recommended mechanic in town. This guy first impressed me by caring enough to fit me into his schedule to make sure my car was safe before I wanted to travel out of town. He then spent greater than 30 minutes examining my car, and he comes back & tells me that my wheel bearings are fine. Some big branch auto mechanics will hustle customers for new wheel bearings because they are expensive but easy to replace, and big commercial companies pay their mechanics based on commission. He let me know that the noise was due to bad rear struts but that getting that fixed wasn't necessary & would just be an expensive repair to get rid of the noise. He did recommend that at some point I should get my back breaks adjusted (or something) because they haven't been working & that would cause my front breaks to go bad faster (which explains why I had to just get those replaced again this past summer), BUT that's less than $60. I then left without having to pay anything.

So the purpose of this is just to tell my fellow drivers to be careful who you trust before shelling out the cash. If you are able, get second opinions and shop around. Unfortunately for Muffler Man, this one bad employee of theirs has cost them all future business from me.

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