Location: Surprise, AZ, USA
Joined: 02/02/2008
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Papas dont let your babies grow up to be suckers

April 6, 2008

Recently I recieved a coupon for a wheel alignment at a "brakes" shop for $40. My 2000 Tiburon was getting a bit shaky on the highway so I thought I would go in. As I dont have a fancy lift for my car and it would take me quite a bit longer than the 20 minutes that I would wait for them to do it, I figured it wasnt a bad deal. My passenger side brake was making some noise, so I casually asked them to check it out while it was on the lift. 30 minutes later the guy comes in with a long list of "problems" that my car was having. Seized brake caliper, paper thin brake pads, 3 hoses that needed replacing, etc etc....all for a grand total of $780!!!! What!? I came in for a $40 job and now youre telling me I need to spend almost $800 bones?!? The salesman continued on with his schpiel, making it seem as if my car would burst into a ball of flames if I left the parking lot. Having always been a skeptic of salesmen, but not being an automotive expert just yet, I called my gearhead boyfriend for confirmation of these issues. My boyfriend promptly said "get the hell out of there", and I paid for my alignment and left, supposedly taking my life in my hands, and hoping my car would make it home.

Once home, we jacked up the car and removed the tires for a closer look. The brake pads were in bad shape but not "paper thin". The brake caliper did seem like it was seized, as we couldnt get the piston to turn back into the housing...but after a few minutes we remembered the emergency brake was on (duh) and after turning the brake off, the piston screwed down just fine (a trick I suspect that they may use to "prove" that its frozen..."see, we can hardly turn it"). With a little lubricant, $30 worth of new brake pads from the local parts store, and the scraping of some of the back east rust, she was good as new. Wow. My bill went from almost $800 to $40 in one afternoon, now Im pissed! Was it because Im a woman? Was it because the look of horror showed on my face when he was explaining the "dangerous" state my car was in? Was it because most people arent educated about their vehicles and have no idea what things cost or how easy some things are to do yourself?

This incident gave me a whole new appreciation for the "do-it-yourself" mechanics out there, and for the information that I am learning by working on my own car. It also reinforces my opinions regarding vocational tech programs in high schools and how cutting them is a REALLY bad move. Ive decided that I will always do my own investigation of mechanical problems, and learn as much as I can about my vehicle, before jobbing it out to another potential financial rapist who was just waiting to prey on a seemingly "unknowing" customer, and a woman at that! Ive also decided that my future children will not be suckers. I plan on serving them with many "quality" hours with their grandpas and uncles who know a thing or two about cars, so that they will not become victims to these scams. Maybe they should demonstrate a certain level of competence with common mechanical problems before I will allow them to own and drive a car? Hell, maybe all of us should. As long as people remain ignorant, the vultures will continue to feast.


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