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High Cost of Auto Repairs

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JasonDoiy
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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:04PM

If this van's a rockin' don't come a knockin'
inhauscreative
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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:25PM
Posted By Lobo:
I'm getting misty. My Delica is in the shop and I'm going to pretty much have to pay half of what I paid to buy it to get it fixed. Booooo hooo. Im a special case though, it's a 20 year old japanese import that about 10 guys know how to actually fix properly.


Sounds like a kick starter project...payoff is a ride just down the road to the flats


 
Zuki
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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:26PM

The snag with modern cars is it's not always so obvious with electrical faults. All the circuits go through a computer which then works the whatever through a relay. That gives the option for the "comfort and convenience" things like the windows closing when you lock the doors. It also gives the option for more to go wrong!

No kidding!

Our ten year old Toyota Van which has run near perfect the last ten years, all of sudden has become nearly useless due to a simple yet seemingly impossible to find electrical glitch.  The car drives fine when our of nowhere the speedometer goes crazy and the transmission slips out of gear, a dangerous thing on the freeway.  My mechanic (who is very honest and straight forward) tried a couple of days to diagnose the problem to no avail.  He recommended I go to Toyota for a deeper diagnostic and so I did just that today.  Their solution?  Diagnostics start at a base of $150 and then goes up from there.  When I asked for an estimated ceiling cost (highest it will most likely go) to diagnose the problem his answer was, "I don't know, it could be $500, maybe $1,000, maybe $3,000 depending how hard it is to find.  

Let me just say at this point that mechanically the car is perfect, nothing wrong with the engine, transmission, and all other moving parts.  It is most likely the ABS computer module which costs around $2,000 and contains probably less than 250k of memory.  The way my mechanic put it was, most everything on the car is run by the computer, the speedometer, the shifting of the gears etc. etc.  When one of the intricate parts of this "HAL" nightmare goes wrong elctronically (not mechanically), the engine light goes on and the car basically stops running or things get haywire.

One mechanic actually told be that it might be time to get a new car.  Huh!?

I remember when I owned my Oldsmobile back in the %$^$'s, I grabbed a wrench, a bunch of grease rags, got dirty and took care of business.  If something broke, it was because it really broke and there was a certain cost to fix it, no mysteries, just cash and sweat.


It's a brave new world kids.


 
Difydave
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Posted Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:47AM
Posted By Zuki:

The snag with modern cars is it's not always so obvious with electrical faults. All the circuits go through a computer which then works the whatever through a relay. That gives the option for the "comfort and convenience" things like the windows closing when you lock the doors. It also gives the option for more to go wrong!

No kidding!

Our ten year old Toyota Van which has run near perfect the last ten years, all of sudden has become nearly useless due to a simple yet seemingly impossible to find electrical glitch.  The car drives fine when our of nowhere the speedometer goes crazy and the transmission slips out of gear, a dangerous thing on the freeway.  My mechanic (who is very honest and straight forward) tried a couple of days to diagnose the problem to no avail.  He recommended I go to Toyota for a deeper diagnostic and so I did just that today.  Their solution?  Diagnostics start at a base of $150 and then goes up from there.  When I asked for an estimated ceiling cost (highest it will most likely go) to diagnose the problem his answer was, "I don't know, it could be $500, maybe $1,000, maybe $3,000 depending how hard it is to find.  

Let me just say at this point that mechanically the car is perfect, nothing wrong with the engine, transmission, and all other moving parts.  It is most likely the ABS computer module which costs around $2,000 and contains probably less than 250k of memory.  The way my mechanic put it was, most everything on the car is run by the computer, the speedometer, the shifting of the gears etc. etc.  When one of the intricate parts of this "HAL" nightmare goes wrong elctronically (not mechanically), the engine light goes on and the car basically stops running or things get haywire.

One mechanic actually told be that it might be time to get a new car.  Huh!?

I remember when I owned my Oldsmobile back in the %$^$'s, I grabbed a wrench, a bunch of grease rags, got dirty and took care of business.  If something broke, it was because it really broke and there was a certain cost to fix it, no mysteries, just cash and sweat.


It's a brave new world kids.


 


I don't know much about these new cars with ECUs. When my last car a Saxo developed a fault, I asked about getting the codes read and was told it was £60 ($100) I bought an OBD2 fault reader off eBay for under £20, read the fault codes and changed the appropriate sensor. A cheap fix! You have to make sure you get the right reader for your vehicle though.


Looks like you can get secondhand ECUs dirt cheap off eBay as well. I also found a place some time back that does guaranteed recon ones for a fraction of the new price. I haven't looked now but they must be available.


Again I'm far from an expert, particulalry with anythign with an auto trans. but I'd suspect water getting in somewhere / bad connection on a speed/rotation sensor somewhere. Try a specialist Toyota forum.


These problems are why some people run old "pre electronics" cars! I don't but it looks tempting if you're trying to fix them yourself.
Lobo
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Posted Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:24AM

Posted By inhauscreative:
Posted By Lobo:
I'm getting misty. My Delica is in the shop and I'm going to pretty much have to pay half of what I paid to buy it to get it fixed. Booooo hooo. Im a special case though, it's a 20 year old japanese import that about 10 guys know how to actually fix properly.


Sounds like a kick starter project...payoff is a ride just down the road to the flats ;)


 

I hear it's only like 45 minutes from Salt Lake City. *Shakes fist at Dieter*
Zuki
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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:36PM

"These problems are why some people run old "pre electronics" cars! I don't but it looks tempting if you're trying to fix them yourself."


Things nowadays are designed to be short lived. Disposable everything.  That's why parts cost almost half the vehicle, and why my toner costs as much as my printer, it's based on forced perpetual sales.


 
Difydave
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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:55PM
Posted By Zuki:

"These problems are why some people run old "pre electronics" cars! I don't but it looks tempting if you're trying to fix them yourself."


Things nowadays are designed to be short lived. Disposable everything.  That's why parts cost almost half the vehicle, and why my toner costs as much as my printer, it's based on forced perpetual sales.


 


Yes, things these days seem to be reliable until they start to break. (If you see what I mean ) Whereupon you're upposed to bin them and get new  Cars are too expensive to throw away if they go wrong though, but certainly a lot of things like washing machines very quickly become uneconomic to repair when compared to the price of a new one.


When I was a kid the TV service bloke was always having to fix the TV. When was the last time anyone here had a TV repaired like that?


 
shank_ali
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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:34PM

Cam belt  went on our works vehicle.£74 hr to fix it.Should take 6 hours.It took 8 hours.Tow truck and parts took the bill to over £800.


 
Zuki
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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:17PM

When I was a kid the TV service bloke was always having to fix the TV. When was the last time anyone here had a TV repaired like that?


In the old days things could be kept indefinitely as long you paid to repair them, the reason being that technology didn't change much so parts were available for quite some time.  Not so today, there are no feasible repair options factored into products, just replacements.  A few years back, our still fairly new Sony TV flat-lined, we had to throw it away and get a new one.  It does happen and more often than people think.


Large corporations are slowly pushing out the little man, forcing maintenance of their products on their own network.  Rented a car the other day and the ignition was electronic, no key just a button.  No small repair shop can touch any type of electronic failure on such a car, only shops with very expensive proprietary diagnostic equipment which they have to buy from Toyota.  Another branch o the money tree.


 
TaurusGuy
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 11:06AM
Really interesting topic .. ANd I have to agree .. I feel gouged everytime i take my vehicle in. WHat I learned now was to just get disposable cars haha. I currently drive a 94 chevy silverado. It mostly sits in my driveway because my wife and I both commute to work via transit and feet. But i got it becasue of its age and the fact that I am a hunter. Its totally mechanicly sound. Just looks like a POS. Its on engine #3 has 485,000kms on it. but it takes me anywhere and never leaves me stranded. WHen it does break it always drives home. The way I look at it .. if a car or truck is over the 12 year mark and its on the road still .. all those little things that break near the 10 year make have been fixed or replaced or it would not be in the road still. Besides ... if you buy a new vehicle for like 20k$ - 50k$ ... there is still no guarentee that it wont break. My truck cost me 2k... how much gas and vehicle repairs can i give it if i put that other 18 - 48k in the bank instead. Not to mention if you take a bank loan to buy a new or newer vehicle .. how many times did you buy that vehicle over while you were paying it off .. vehicles are a depreciating asset. ONly classic cars have value .. and only if they are in fantastic shape.


 


*shrugs*

(Edited on 2013-02-06 11:10:01 by TaurusGuy)
Willowpix
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 11:34AM
^Pretty hard to argue with all those excellent points. Two of the Subarus in my post way up there are at 9 and 11 years (model years) old - with pretty much everything that could have worn out or gone bad finally replaced on both cars. We figure they ought to be good for at least a couple more years.
Difydave
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 12:02PM

As you day Ted it's hard to argue with the thing of running an old car. Our car before last was an '88 VW Passat Estate. We bought it as a low mileage 7 year old car, and kept it for 14 years with minimal replacements apart from running parts like tyres and brakes etc. I serviced it myself, and it wasn't actually that bad when it was scrapped, except the heater didn't work, and that requires the dash to be taken out,  and it blew a coolant seal on the manifold, which is an engine out job. End of the road.


One of the best bargains I had car wise was in the late 70s I bought a Mark 1 Ford Cortina. It had just "done" an MOT test. New brakes, tyres, exhaust and steering bits and pieces. The previous owner had also had a recon engine put in it. The "top plate" went on the nearside strut, and it was stood in his drive (you wonder how it had passed the recent MOT!) I can weld, (after a fashion ) so I bought it for £50 and did the necessary. It lasted us several years, again with only the running bits and pieces needing replacement. (and a bit more welding to the underside!)


Happy days!
jonathansloane
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 12:03PM
Ha! You think that, Ted, and then along comes something you could never have thought of and there you go again. Or else the repaired parts start needing repair.
jonathansloane
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 12:15PM

I agree with pretty much everything people have said. When my old cars broke down, well I fixed 'em and off I went. When the next generation of cars broke down, off to the shop to fix 'em and off I went. Now nobody except a mechanic can repair them, and as Zuki pointed out, half the time even your local guy can't. I open the hood and just shake my head and pretend that I know what's going on under there."How much is it going to be this time"?


What we haven't mentioned is that with the older cars you were lucky, very lucky, if you got 80-90,000 miles on them without them needing a new engine or bodywork. My last car had 175,000 miles and was running fine (until the transmission went, but that was because my wife borrowed it and didn't notice X*%!! never mind!!). Now I've got a 1995 and a 2000, and why not?
TaurusGuy
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 1:23PM
My car that I have (currently sitting in driveway with sitting insurance on it becasue it cant tow anything and i dont need to insure 2 vehicles) is a 2003 FORD focus wagon. We got it from a dealer lot with only 23,000 kms on it. It was 3 years old. Brand new it was 23,000$ CAD +tax ... we got it for 12,000$ + tax. At 107,000kms .. the number 4 valve seat dropped into the engine compartment and chewed the living daylights out of the inside of the motor. The intake manifold was filled with metal chunks. It sounded like an oversized coffee grinder when it was running. I called ford ... and they were liie .. Sorry taursguy but your powertrain warrenty expired at 100,000kms. I started researching the issue and low and behold the focus with the SPI engine in it was notorious for this issue. My choices were ... get a used engine from the scrap yard (with no guarentee for anything and most of them had more KMs than mine did) for 2k plus install .. or get a new short block and have that dropped in. I figured I was going to keep the car for alot longer so I opted for the new short block install which cost me an extra 1500bux overall .. Bottom line ... DONT get the ford focus with the SPI engine in it ... get it with the Ztech engine.. they are far superior. Other than that .. its been pretty good. Heck .. even though it broke it still got me home. Just everyone got to stare at me as my car was fricken loud driving down the road. So if you know anyone with a ford focus with the SPI engine in it .. warn them. Sell it ... before its too late. I have been trying to sell my focus now for 6 months ... with a bran new engine block in it with only 30,000kms on it .. and my best offer is 2k. So there it sits ... maybe one day it will be my daughters car. SHes only got 1.5 years til she starts driving.
alanphillips
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 1:52PM
My 1948 Triumph Roadster is the most reliable car I have ever owned. I don't use it much these days because its in Shropshire England and I'm here in Lisbon, Portugal. But whenever I visit family I just charge up the battery, clean the plugs, prime the petrol pump and away it goes, Back in the 1980's when I was using it regularly (my sole means of transport) it only once let me down. Driving up from Northampton a piston broke, made a heck of a rattle. So, at the side of the road we dropped the sump, undid the corresponding big-end bearing and pulled out the remains of the piston and con-rod. Bottled the sump back on again and drove home (slowly ... hellish vibration from the totally out-of-balance engine). But we got home. Next day, hauled out the engine, dismantled it (easy, easy job and no need for special tools) and knocked out the cylinder liners (wet liners in a good old fashioned cast iron engine block). Amazingly the local agricultural mechanical supply shop in Shrewsbury had pistons and liners (the Triumph 2000 Roadster engine is basically the same as the TE20 tractor). A days work and I had virtually a new engine.
Tomorrow my current mode of transport (Alfa Romeo) has to go in to have its fuel pump fixed/replaced. I love the car, but it is so complicated. Not looking forward to the bill.
Difydave
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 2:12PM

Earlier engines will seemingly take any amount of abuse. They were often well understressed of course. I had a couple of BSA M21 mortorbikes over the years. They were a 600 cc single cyl. sidevalve engine. One blew a head gasket miles from nowhere, so I took the head off, put it back without a gasket, and rode it home. The same one had the head break off an exhaust valve, and was still running (just!) because the broken valve head was still jiggling about in the pocket. (Side valve remember) It wouldn't ride or start though!


On the other hand you got about 15 bhp and 45 mpg IIRC. Lots of torque, but no real performance. Easy to fix though.
alanphillips
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 2:25PM
I have no idea what the fuel consumption of the Triumph is, and I'd rather not know. And acceleration? Well, something like 0-60 in a fortnight, provided there's was a following wind. But once its wound up it just goes.
But for performance, my favourite was my 1952 Lester MG, one of three in Harry Lester's racing team. Went like a rocket, handled like battleship in a hurricane. Finally parted with it in 1990 and the new owner has completely re-built it to original condition.
For comfort and performance yes, the Alfa is wonderful, but its impossible when something goes wrong.
Willowpix
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 4:08PM
Posted By jonathansloane:
Ha! You think that, Ted, and then along comes something you could never have thought of and there you go again. Or else the repaired parts start needing repair.

Pretty hard to argue with all these excellent points also, J. Especially - let's just say for instance - when one of our offspring somehow manages to listen somewhat attentively while driving, so usually hears when something doesn't sound right...while another of our offspring figures the singular solution - to most any sudden bone-shaking vibration or unusually deafening rattle from up there beyond the windshield - is to just turn the radio up louder!!
jonathansloane
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Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013 8:00PM
That is so exactly right! We went up to visit daughter number two in Boston and she said she thought she needed some air in one of the tires of her 1999 Saab (which we of course bought for her). She said it was vibrating. So I took it for a ride and turned white. I thought the wheel was falling off. She had been driving it to work for a week and said "oh yes it vibrates a little". I told her she couldn't drive it anymore until it went straight to a mechanic where it got a new axle! Which she paid for. Woo hoo! Good thing the radio was working well so she didn't have to think about it!
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