Is anything more derailing than getting into your car in the middle of an over scheduled hectic morning only to find that it just isn’t working? Whatever the problem seems to be, you sit there, behind the wheel, hands at 10 and 2, and you utter silent prayers to the car gods and you chant a little encouraging mantra to your stubborn vehicle, and then you close your eyes tight and hope that everything is going to be just fine when you try starting the car again. It never is.
So, there you sit, wondering what to do. After calling your spouse/parent/friend/boss to vent about your terrible luck, you finally realize you have to deal with the car. (If you’re me you call the closest dealer because one time an independent repair shop tried to swindle you out of a couple thousand dollars and you no longer want to take the risk.) You don’t call your usual dealer because they are really far away, and in any case, it’s all the same, isn’t it? So you call and make an appointment. You find a way to have your car towed and you wait for The Call.
You know The Call, right? The one where you discover just how bad the damage to your wallet is going to be? You wait impatiently to learn if you’ve won the busted car lottery: a cheap easy repair that can be done while you wait, or if the dealer is the big winner: horrible damage, exorbitant fee, and multiple parts that need to be ordered from the other side of the world.
I got into my car one hectic morning a few weeks ago and the steering wheel wouldn’t move. A bit of an issue since between home and my desired destination there were quite a few twists and turns. After going through the usual rigmarole I discovered that the total repair cost was going to be $1500. Ouch. We hesitated for a bit and then asked the dealer to go ahead with the repairs. Over a week later, bright and early on a Monday morning, we called to double check that the car was indeed ready and we headed over to pick it up.
I dropped off my husband and sped away with a cheery wave. Not 15 minutes later I got a frantic call from him. “The car is dead.” Not exactly what I’d expected to hear. Turns out a staff member had left the glove compartment open all weekend and the battery was completely drained.
Now, at this point you’re probably thinking, “Well, mistakes happen. Whatever.” And had the story ended here I would have wholeheartedly agreed. But of course it didn’t end there. Upon discovering the dead battery, the repairman acted as though my husband was responsible, despite the fact that the car had been on their lot for well over a week by this point. And then, when my husband asked what they planned to do about the situation, the man answered “Well, we can give you an estimate for a new battery.”
I’ll spare you the sordid details, but suffice it to say that my husband left in a rental car, courtesy of the dealership, and our car now sports a brand new battery. All that to say that dealerships are not all created equal. A little research conducted before handing over your keys might spare you a massive headache.