Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Braking Bread

"Damn. Why dey try to stick me fo' mah papah?!" ~Biggie

So, I took a vehicle to a local Big-10 Tires shop for a free brake inspection. It had been grindin' sumpin' FIERCE, for several days, whenever I'd hit the brakes - which, as you might imagine, happens pretty often when you're driving around town.

Anyway, I'd had decent enough experiences with these folks, before, so I let them check out my breaks, one day, before going to work. They came back and told me that the driver-side caliper was sticking/stuck and needed to be replaced. So, they recommended replacing both of those on the front-end, as these things usually go.

They said the rotors were all warped and couldn't be turned any more (a way of smoothing-out saving the rotor, instead of having to replace it). They recommended replacing all four of those.

They also said all the pads needed to be replaced.

Final estimate? About $1200.
They said, though, that, if I got both ends taken care of that day, they'd give me a ten percent discount, bringing the total down to about $1080.

I talked to my step-father, who owns an auto repair shop, and was told that price was outrageous. Besides that, he didn't think there was anything wrong with the calipers. He was so out-done by this estimate and so sure of his opinion that he said HE'D just drive down here and take a look, himself, and that he'd make any necessary repairs.

I didn't want him to drive from Atlanta to Tallahassee just for the brakes (although it was something he was supposed to have taken care of before handing over the vehicle) but he insisted. Fine.

He told me to have the guys at the tire shop simply replace the pads and leave it at that until he got down here. Okay. So, that was the plan.

I talked to the Big-10 guy and he said they'd do it, but that'd just burn out the pads in a few days.

Okay, I said. I'd just park that vehicle and drive another, for a few days, until my parents could get down here.

Now, Big-10 gets NOTHING for their time.

Long story/short: My step-father said the calipers were fine and that, if they hadn't been, he wouldn't have been able to move'em around like he did. He also said the rotors had NEVER been turned, so, even if they'd been messed up, they wouldn't have necessarily needed replacing. But, according to him, they WEREN'T warped.

In the end, my step-father spent about an hour or so, checking things out and replacing TWO pads. The ones on the back were fine, he said. The front, passenger-side pad was fine, too, but the pads come in a set of two and had a lifetime warranty, so he put both on.

My truck hasn't made any scary sounds since then.

Who knows what the future will bring, but the current evidence suggests that Biggie was right and the folks at that particular Big-10 were trying to stick me for my paper. I can't decide if they, despite acting VERY friendly, were actually very incompetent or extremely duplicitous.

Either one scares the shit out of me.

Instead of the job costing over a thousand dollars, it cost something closer to a hundred. Ain't dat a @$^%?!

Saved me a whole lotta bread, at the cost of a little of my faith in humanity.

Disclaimer: These are just opinions based on the evidence available, at this time. I do not know for a fact that this particular or all Big-10 Tire locations are evil, lying bastards. I just have my suspicions.

Sidenote #1: Mark
It occurred to me that, if the brake folks WERE lying, they may have done so because I appeared to be a good mark. I had a big-ass SUV, a fancy-ass phone, and a laptop (which folks assume costs a mint). I figure they took a look at me and figured I had enough disposable income and ignorance that they could try me. In the future, I'll try to forego the gadgetry.

It really makes me hope that they were just incompetent. After all, when my step-father finished working on the brakes, he told me to be sure to pump'em before driving off, to restore the tension in'em, so they'd work. Big-10 never said that. I almost crashed into the bay because the brakes didn't work and no one told me I needed to pump'em. After a few pumps, they were back to "normal."

That actually brings up...

Sidenote #2: Liability
I always thought this was a good idea, but now I'm determined to NEVER, EVER drive my vehicle into or out of a repair bay. I'll let the employees do it so if something happens, it's their liability not mine.

Sidenote #3: Impact Drill
I want.
My step-father used one and had those tires off in no-time. I don't wanna be out in the hot-ass Florida sun gettin' a Black (let's face it, I'm well beyond a "tan"), while trying to put some elbow grease on those damned bolts/lugnuts.
I want.


Anonymous said...

I am losing my faith in most garages. And being female, I might be an easy mark. But prices quoted for brakes are ridiculous, and when I price brake pads...Great (ceramic) ones are pretty reasonably priced.

Yeah those drills are pretty neat. I may be a little different than most females, but I like tools, especially power tools. I want a nail gun too. :-)

West said...

You go, remnants!

*resists the urge to make a joke about you and your "power tools"*

Miz JJ said...

I drive an old Honda Accord. My dad bought that car and always maintained it at the dealership. They treated him fairly. They extended the same courtesy to me when I took over the car. When I moved across the country and took my car to the Honda dealership in my new city they tried to rip me off. I was so pissed! They quoted me some bullshit price when I already knew what was wrong with my car because it had been diagnosed at the old Honda dealership. I just hadn't had time to have it fixed before I shipped my car. I wrote a letter to the dealership letting them know that I had planned to buy a brand new Honda in a few months and they lost the sale because they tried to rip me off. AND I told them I would tell anyone who would listen, to my loud ass mouth, not to go to that particular dealership because they try to take advantage of single black women. Lol. They wrote me a letter offering me a few tune-up. I told them to go fuck themselves. I don't play with my paper. At all. I finally found a nice mechanic who is honest, fair and explains everything to me.

West said...

Marry his ass!

If you don't, I will! :p

(Nice follow-up to my rant about marrying for the right reasons, ain't it?!)

Miz JJ said...

Lol. I wish I could marry that mechanic, but he's taken. All the good ones seem to be taken. And getting good (and fair) mechanical service is a great reason to get married ;-)

Luke Cage said...

LOL @ miz JJ! "I told them to go fuck themselves." - it is pretty scary out there when it comes to autobody shops and garages. I will be the first to tell you. I don't know anything about a car.

I know how to put gas in it, put the key in the ignition, put oil where necessary and even putting window washer fluid in it's cannister and after that, I'm completely ignorant.

Now, I don't tell random body shops and the guys who work there that stuff, but then again I go to a guy that my wife and I have had for 14 years and he's good. I only go to him (when possible that is) and he's always been very open and fair to us. He even let me split a payment to him in 2 installments one time when he didn't have to.

But it can be scary when you are out in the middle of nowhere and far from home and you have to depend on someone's judgment about your car when you don't know that cat from Adam. Glad that worked out for you West. That was a massive difference of over a grand. Kudos!

chele said...

Why can't they just be honest? Mechanics are the devil. I usually get B to take my car in because as soon as they see me coming they think they can just tell me any ole thing.

West said...

re: "Why can't they just be honest? Mechanics are the devil. I usually get B to take my car in because as soon as they see me coming they think they can just tell me any ole thing."

"Yeah, ma'am, you're dangerously low on headlight fluid. We can flush out the system and put some fresh headlight fluid in for $50... per light.

Of course, you want your taillights to work, too, so we can take care of those for you, too, for only $250.

Oh, that other $50? Taxes and fees.

Don't you worry your pretty little head over it."

Anonymous said...

If we ain't livin' parrallel lives, I don't know what we doin'! I had the exact same experience (minus the calipers).

My cuz's husband showed me the "old" rotors and the new rotors and they looked EXACTLY the same. My whole situation only costed $75!

I swear 'fo the Lawd, I ain't EVER marryin' a car salesman or a damn "Service Advisor". EVER!

princessdominique said...

Yikes! I don't look forward to anything like that.