Car Expenses

I took my car to the dealership today for some upkeep. I had them do my 40k maintenance (including oil change), and they found a nearly dead battery and what they described as "dirty" power steering fluid. I was out for an afternoon with my dad, and was in a rush so I made the mistake of asking the service rep to just "take care of it" without being told or requesting the cost of the repairs. After I hung up the phone, I mentioned it to my dad and he mused that it would probably be $53-ish for the battery and power steering fluid. I didn't think of it again until I picked up my car, where I discovered..............

(that pause was to simulate my jaw dropping ;p) The total came to nearly $500! And that was after a 10% discount on the 40k maintenance. The power steering service was around $166, the battery replacement was $141 and the 40k maintenance was $130. I think if my dad hadn't said what he did, I would have winced, but then swallowed hard and moved on. Was I ripped off? I know the dealer generally charges more (although it's $20 cheaper to get oil changes there instead of Ez Lube)... but is this way beyond more? Sorry if I sound a bit clueless; I've only had this car for 4 years (and bought it brand new), so this is the first time something relatively major has cropped up.

Had to put the total on my credit card... I suppose I'll have to draw from my emergency fund to cover it. :(


Jake from Debt Sucks said...

$141 to replace your battery!?

If your battery was "nearly dead," then you'd be having trouble starting it. Would've been cranking slow. Could've and should've gone to Advance Auto Parts or AutoZone, had them test the battery for free, and if need be, buy a battery from them and have them install it for free.

The power steering fluid is a 5 minute job that you could have easily done yourself with a siphon pump (or a turkey baster) and your own supply of fluid. Even then, it tends to just be a money-maker for them, as power steering fluid rarely needs changed. Definitely not if your steering is fine and not making any noises.

Canadian Saver said...

That is a lot!! But maintenance is important, especially if you plan to keep your car awhile...

I'm clueless when it comes to things like this, I would have told them to take care of whatever too!!

Sunflowers said...

@Jake: I did notice some issues when starting it. It probably would've lasted a while longer, but I don't doubt that they were telling the truth. "Nearly dead" weren't the exact words they used.

I looked up the battery on Autozone - it was $101. $2 more from the dealer. So I'm paying $40 extra to have them do it. That doesn't strike me as outrageous.

As for the power steering service, it also included a "power steering kit." Is that also a 5 minute job? How much does the part cost?

@Canadian Saver: I'd like to keep my car for at least another 5 years! I bought a car new so it would be reliable and have NO problems. The car always runs perfectly when I bring it back from the dealer, and my mom has had so many issues with places like AutoZone or Pep Boys... I like having a place I can trust, even if the cost is a little higher. But if the cost here was a LOT higher (rip-off higher), then for things other than oil changes I guess I will have to take it to an outside mechanic.

Mentally Sane said...

Well, I'm not one to do the DIY Car Maintenance, mostly because I don't want to make something worse. But, the battery thing seems a bit excessive. I don't know, maybe it's your car. When my battery died it only cost me $60 and I got a $15 rebate for bringing my old battery in to exchange it. I had some nice older gentleman that helped me change it, so that didn't cost me anything - though I offered him money, he politely refused.

As a general rule, I always question the dealership. It tends to piss them off and I get guys who are huffy and basically tell me that if I don't trust them I can take my car elsewhere. My response is usually, 'Alright.' If you're going to hem and haw, then I will go somewhere else where they will answer my questions without attitude. I suspect a lot of that nonsense is because I'm a girl. Be that as it may, I'm not stupid. So the last time I went to a new place and they told me I needed to replace my master cylinder when my previous maintenance (at my normal place) said everything was running fine. Just as a safety precaution, I had my dad (also a mechanic) take a look when I was visiting over the holidays and he told me it was fine, they were probably looking to get a little extra money out of me.

My point is, these places hope that people will just say 'take care of it.' You have to ask the questions. Still sucks that it came to so much! Sorry, hope the cars running a lot better at least!

Kristy @ MYC

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