Thursday, April 04, 2013

Mechanically Challenged Motorist Gets a Break

The geezer knows how to check the oil in a car and change a flat tire. And that’s about it. For all else I seek out good service places. They can be hard to find.

A couple of weeks ago the battery in our aging, but still reliable, Pontiac entered the sixth year of its projected five-year life. That told even me a replacement was in order. I mentioned it to our son, and he recommended a course of action that savvy members of his generation would follow.

“Check the owner’s manual to see what kind of battery you need,” he said. “Then spend a little time searching the internet to find out a fair price for a good product and who in your area sells and installs
the better brands. Make a few phone calls and find the best deal.”

That sounded like a lot of trouble, but the computer search wasn’t. I quickly determined that a reasonable price for a good-quality battery and installation would be $100 to $110. The car needed an oil change, so I took it in for that at a familiar full-service garage. It was a chance to confirm my need for a new unit and get one local price at the same time. I asked them to test the battery. They did that for free.

The service manager appeared a few minutes after I settled in at the waiting room. “You sure do need a battery." he said. "We’ve got one in stock, and can fix you right up.”

“What’s the cost?” 


“Go ahead with the oil change, but I’ll pass on the battery for now."

I waited longer than usual for the oil change.

The manager returned, looking a bit sheepish. His question surprised me: “What would you say if we get that new battery in your car for $81?”

“I’d say, put it in,” I said.

“I’m glad, because our mechanic screwed up and already has it installed. Your old battery has been trashed.”

The savings was nice, but I’m still probably far in the red from paying exorbitant charges that creative mechanics have foisted on me over the years. But it was good to win one for the mechanically challenged for a change.


Bob Lowry said...

I must admit when I need a new battery I chose convenience over cost. AAA comes to my house and installs a new battery for around $150. I used to buy a battery at an auto parts store, put it in myself, return the old battery for a credit, and get it all done for around $100.

Since 6 year batteries rarely last three years here in the desert, at least I usually get a bit of a rebate off the new one. I guess I'm just getting lazy.

schmidleysscribblins, said...

I really like this post. I paid through the nose for years for auto service. Then I met David, the auto whiz kid. Now I lean on him most of the time.

Good for you!! Dianne

PiedType said...

The last time I needed a new battery, I found out about it when my car (in the garage) wouldn't start. I called AAA and they sent out a local battery service guy who comes to your home prepared for anything. He tested the old battery, showed me how dead it was, replaced it with a new name-brand one, and hauled the old one away for disposal. Bless AAA. It only takes one call like that to justify years of modest membership fees. Total charge, as I recall, was $100-$150.

Kay said...

We had a super trustworthy mechanic in Illinois who we trusted with all our vehicles. When our daughter moved into our house when we moved to Hawaii, she was glad she'd be able to inherit our Super Mechanic. Unfortunately, he moved. We couldn't believe it! An honest mechanic is worth their weight in gold. Sigh...