November 24, 2007

This is Not a Fun Way to Spend Money

Our check engine light came on. We took it to Aut0z0ne, because they'll hook the diagnostic thing up to your car for free, instead of charging $85.00 like the dealer does (dealer of SORROW, more like). But since our check engine light was broadcasting a "dealer code," we had to take it to the dealer anyway.

And what is wrong? A SENSOR has cheesed out. NOTHING AT ALL is wrong with the car, but the SENSOR that is supposed to DETECT if something is wrong--THAT is broken. And how much to repair it? FOUR HUNDRED SMACKERS. For a sensor. When nothing is wrong with the car itself. Plus, of course, the $85 to let us know which sensor wasn't working.

Furthermore, the dealer told us that "Aaiemwocn soeimv woien a owxeia aie'aslc, ceiallell!!!!!" Translation: "The sensor might also have welded itself to the manifold, in which case it could easily be another $800." And ALL OF THIS is for a SENSOR. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH THE CAR. Except for the SENSOR.

So of course I asked whether we could just NOT FIX the sensor. I doubt cars had these sensors even ten years ago, so why don't we just sense it the old-fashioned way, by NOTICING THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG and taking it in when something is? The dealer said, oh, sure, we could do that--but then the car won't pass inspection anymore, so we can't legally drive it.

I HATE dealing with car problems. I always feel like I'm being taken for a total sucker. They could be making this whole thing up. The car could be built to have the check engine light come on automatically at certain mileages, and the dealer code could actually mean "Dealer cash deficiency: please add $500.00."

33 comments:

Making my way in PA said...

My ancient 1997 car has started falling apart. We took it for an oil change and they reccommended $1200 worth of repairs. We said, um, no thanks and we will suck it up. make it last since the car is only worth 500 and we are planning to buy next year.

Courtney said...

HA HA HA HAAAAA! snort!

"Dealer cash deficiency: please add $500.00."

jonniker said...

Oh the STUPID SENSOR. I recently paid $500 for some environmental sensor.

THE SENSOR SUCKS.

Jess said...

Oh I am so with you. We just knocked off our side mirror (for the second time. mumble mumble) and took it to the dealer. They said it would take $300 worth of labor to fix it. Right. Since I watched another fix it the first time for FREE in under 2 minutes. I'd call another dealer and explain the problem (don't tell them how much they want to charge you)and see what their quote is. We got three completely different quotes by Toyota dealerships for the mirror--ranging from $300 to nothing. We went ahead and went with nothin.

Marie Green said...

I wouldn't fix it. When the time comes and you don't pass the test, then they'll tell you to do X or whatever, and then you can worry about it.

But see? I think my personality is to just put it off as long as possible. I think your personality is such that my personality (about these sorts of things anyway) would drive you crazy.

I'm all "let the cards fall" and you're all "let's take care of this in a responsible and timely manner". And you know what? Sometimes, when the cards fall, things are MUCH worse.

So sorry. Sensors SUCK monkey balls.

Shannon said...

I don't think the sensor would cause you to fail inspection. I call hogwash.

Mama DB said...

Second opinion. Do you have another dealer in the area that you can call? We had the same experience as Jess. One dealer said X and another had angels singing above the garage doors.

stephanie said...

Oh the sensor will DEF cause you to fail inspection. In CT anyway... because that's why my 98 Civic failed earlier this year. A broken "02 sensor" -- Ok, I don't even know what that MEANS, except please-give-dealer-$650.
I feel your pain.

hello insomnia said...

I'll wallow in your car sorrow, too. I wish I had more auto-know-how because if the "Check Engine" light ever goes on, I'll probably say, "Engine? I have one! Check!"

Trina N. said...

Get a second quote from another dealership. Trust me. I used to work at one. Also, once you decide to get the car fixed, tell them you want the faulty part. They have to give it to you. This way you have proof that they actually took something out of your car and put in a new one. Talk about sucky. Right before Christmas.

OH, also check out the Better Business Bureau in your area (you can go to their website to check) and see if the dealership has complaints about over charging for work that has been done.

Marie Green said...

You should call Car Talk and see what they say!

www.cartalk.com

Shelly Overlook said...

Marie Green said it best - Call Car Talk to see what they say. I love those guys, plus you have a very reasonable question. At the very least, I agree that you should try another dealer if it's possible. We've had vastly different experiences with dealers in our city.

I'm sorry this had to bust up your Thanksgiving warm fuzzies. Dealing with cars does suck and I totally get the feeling that you're being taken advantage of, no matter what you do.

coffee stained laura said...

I experienced the same problem with my honda civic. The dealer also told me that it wouldn't pass inspection b/c of the check engine light, but here in MA my car totally passed despite the malfunction. I don't know if it is a scam or not, but it sounded suspicious to me that they would tell me this when they don't actually do inspections at the dealership (so how would they know for sure?) Good luck!

Erin said...

Whooo boy. That is awful. Awful! I have been lucky to find this little car repair shop which I like. I've gotten to know the old guys who work there and I actually *trust* them. Whoa. It's wierd. If they say it has to be fixed, well, okay then. But GAWD. The Autozones and Dealers of the world... I do not trust them OR their faulty Fault Sensors.

Also, I would definitely not fix it. Because fixing it would damn me to live of bitterness and resentment and probably Road Rage.

Pregnantly Plump said...

That is so crazy! Hopefully another dealer will have a better price, and won't charge you $85 just to LOOK at it. yuck.

Kelsey said...

Oooh, I agree with the calling car talk suggestion. I also think the sensor thing is nonsense -- how frustrating!

anita said...

What inspection?
My check brake lights go on and off all the time. My son-in-law, the mechanic, says it's just the sensor. He can fix it, but who cares...I'm so used to it I can live with it until something REALLY breaks! lol

She Likes Purple said...

My husband has a book for each car we own, and I should really know more about it because it's literally saved us THOUSANDS of dollars. When something goes wrong, he fixes it himself, based on what this book tells him to do. It's a brand of books. I'll find out the name and let you know. You may not be able to fix things yourself but you may at least be able to research solutions and take them to your dealer so they stop screwing you over. Dealers are the shadiest of all the shady. I'm sorry!

Janet_Lin said...

For what it's worth, my check engine light has been on constantly for the past two & 1/2 years. I went to the dealer, paid $85 dollars to find out it was the "catalytic converter" and would cost a thousand more to fix. Declined to get it fixed, but have had no problems at all with the engine. In the mail a year & a half later came a card saying the Toyota Rav-4 seems to have problems with the engine light just coming on. The card offered to get it fixed, but I haven't bothered.
Before you think I'm all cavilier about this, the first time it came on I was in a dead panic. It was 3 a.m. & I was on the highway alone. Stopped the car & sat for 1/2 an hour wondering what to do. Drove home - and the world didn't end.

Sorry.
Too long, didn't read? =
I wouldn't worry about the engine light.

Penny said...

It always pisses me off to no end when I have to shell out big bucks for something I don't believe in. Like car sensors.

How about knocking the light out in the sensor instead of fixing it? I doubt the inspection people would ever know.

Jess said...

I hate that stuff too. Selling my car was SUCH a relief. I dread the day when we move somewhere without good public transportation.

JMH said...

Do you have a warrenty? Maybe that would cover it. However, if you ever buy a warrenty, PLEASE do not believe the pitch the salesman tells you. Get a copy of the warrenty and go to the Service Dept. and ask them what it covers. My husband works in a Service Dept. of a car dealership and he has the unfortunate job of telling people that their warrenty doesn't cover everything that they thought.

BTW: Not all car dealerships are shady and /or evil. Most of the people who work there are honest and work long hours, with crabby costumers, for a not so large pay check. Cars are expensive. Sorry!

LoriD said...

I always feel like I'm being ripped off at the dealership. Always. If I can get work done elsewhere I will.

Sleepynita said...

Just buy the sensor (which is probably only 160$ or something cheap) and put it in yourself. Sensors are usually pretty easy - and I have never heard of one heating up so much that it melts "welds" to a manifold. Freaking things are in plastic, they can't weld to anything.

I drive a VW which is notorious for blowing anything electrical, so I actually am goging to buy the diagnostic tool for my car that hooks up to my laptop (for a whopping 100$).

Love the "dealer cash defieiency: please add 500$" best blog line today!

Colleen said...

Well... you could always wait until after you need to have the car inspected. Then if you don't pass... you can get it fixed. Plus... did they give you anything saying that it was just the sensor that is broken? You could take that to inspection with you and see if that would help if you fail.

Welcome to our World said...

Call the car guys from NPR. They usually tell you how much it OUGHT to cost. I love them - they are the coolest car dudes on earth!

lucidkim said...

yeah, my car's "check engine" light has been on for 2 years and the car still runs so i don't worry. no state car inspection in my state, however. i've been screwed over by dealerships and had some save me a ton of money for fixing things for free - i guess it just depends on the dealership. but car problems are in my top three most dreaded problems. make me feel physically sick.

MrsGrumpy said...

Oh, don't I know it. Black electrical tape comes in so handy to cover those little messages...my dad taught me that. Right now the check air bag signal is blinking on our car... So far, I have told myself that it's just the driver's side, and I have a seatbelt, and I know it's because the car just turned an 0,000... I am suspicious of those sensors because I really think they charge $999 just to reach, flip a switch and turn them back on.

Natalie said...

Ugh Swistle, I'm sorry about that. My old car just had $500 worth of work put into it by the soon to be ex (In lieu of a few months of child support), so I'm incredibly greatful for that, but it's already starting to act strange again.

Now that the dealer has told you what the problem is, can you get it fixed elsewhere for less money?

Pann said...

UGH!

I hate car dealers!

It seems like they don't really know how to fix anything, so they just keep replacing things until either the problem or the customer goes away!

Susanica said...

"Oh, me too, there's nothing for it but to pay what they ask and hope they're not laughing after you leave. Just take it in and don't think about it." (What can I say—I’m good at following directions ;-)

Actually, I’m convinced that these warning lights and other computer related car problems are all a part of planned obsolescence. Maybe manufacturers figure if we deal with enough stuff like this long enough we’ll suddenly think that buying a whole new car will be a cheaper alternative. Cuz that’s not crazy right? They won’t have planned any obsolescence for the new cars either right? Wonderful picture of your little Henry by the way!

–Monica (driving the same old car that cost us $600 last week when the ignition decided it was too tired to go on.)

mom of the year said...

PROCRASTINATE is my motto. Don't fix it till it's, well, mandatory for driving the vehicle according to your state/local regulations. (Sorry. I was hanging out with my attorney friends this weekend. I need my own language back, thankyouverymuch)...

Laura McIntyre said...

Ugg car problems suck and what a stupid thing to fix.