High Cost of Auto Repairs

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Willowpix
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Posted Sat Feb 9, 2013 10:08PM
^How'd you know I was talking about my daughter???
Zuki
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Posted Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:29AM
While going through college I owned a 1969 Oldsmobile 98 (like this one).  It was an 8 cylinder beast! It was given to me by someone I knew as a commute car while in school and it was loaded, fully auto everything, electric windows, electric seat (all directions and up and down) air, you name it.  It bounced down the road and I never felt a single pothole the whole time I drove it.  I had this sense of power in it, as if driving a tank with shocks and a panoramic view.


It finally blew a piston rod and get this, I drove it for about a year with the rod clanging in the cylinder, it sounded like someone was banging the head with a sledge hammer, it just kept on going and I kept on driving.  This is a true story.  It finally gave up the ghost and I had it towed away for parts.  Sad to see it go.

(Edited on 2013-02-10 02:31:10 by Zuki)
Willowpix
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Posted Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:11AM
College cars. Amen.
Difydave
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Posted Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:27AM

I'm numb with the horror of it all!


It says something for the toughness of those older engines in that it survived for a year with a conrod rattling around!


I seem to remember reading a story somewhere about one of those big V8s where a piston or conrod was wrecked, and they took the sump off, removed the offending parts (possibly on two cylinders), and drove it like that for a long time after with no real ill effects.
Willowpix
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Posted Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:58AM
Yeah, that story was Zuki's college thesis.
Difydave
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Posted Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:16AM

"A Non-Engineering Approach To Automotive Repair And Maintenance" 


Actually I'll have a bet that unless the crankshaft broke and finished things off, then what finished that engine was the bits of metal from the thrashing broken bits blocking the oil filter, lifting the bypass and allowing the oil to circulate with metal in it. Goodnight bearings! 


That's what finishes a lot of engines that are making metal on metal noises.


Do you remember if it just went bang in the end, or slowly got worse and then died Zuki?
Zuki
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Posted Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:41PM
I don't think it was anything like that.  If I remember correctly, it had problems to begin with.  For one, the radiator overheated and I had to occasionally put water in it on long trips.  Also, it went through oil quicker than usual way before the blown rod.  I think the final nail was either the timing or something similar which was hard to diagnose and didn't warrant the effort.  I was out of college and I had enough money to buy a brand new Honda Accord by then.  But there were many memories in that car.
Difydave
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Posted Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:43AM
Sounds as if it was getting pretty tired before it got to that stage then. The memories that get tied up in those metal boxes are another thing though. I tend to keep ny cars for quite some time, and I'm (nearly) always sorry to see them go.
Willowpix
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Posted Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:39AM
Good for you Dave. It's been a relatively good life if you've rarely had to say "...and good riddance!!" when you let an old one go. Cars, I'm talking about.
AdrianVictor
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:56AM
try to do it yourself .. mechanics is very easy to learn and understand .. and every car has a repair manual. 
Coast-to-Coast
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:13PM
Believe it or not my electric car door window is working again.  Maybe driving over winter pot holes jostled it back on track.  I just saved myself $500 if it keeps on working.  As to the issue of dally maintenance many people go to a service station just to have their oil and filter changed.  A couple of hours after dropping the car off they get a phone call that several things are wrong with their car hence the $1000 bill for new brakes, new rear axle, near grease boots etc.  A mechanics labor is charged at $145.00 an hour so if you can do it yourself and do it properly that is good.  My condo association prohibits people working on their cars except to replace things like light bulbs and windshield wipers.  Homeowners with a garage can do their own auto repairs more easily.
Difydave
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Posted Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:18AM

Glad to hear it's fixed itself! Cars do that sometimes. Especially with intermittent electrical faults.


As I said way back in this thread, it's either water that got in, and has dried out now, connections in the plug, or a broken wire somewhere that's making contact intermittently. And /or the switch of course. Doubt very much if it's the motor or mechanism.


Don't you have a friend who has a drive or a garage you could "borrow" for a few hours? I never liked working in the road, although I have. Too easy to get your tools nicked if you have to go away for something.
mtngigi
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Posted Wed Mar 6, 2013 5:25PM
Posted By pink_cotton_candy:
As a small independent marketing/design company owner, I worked out several years ago that in order to net $60,000/year, I needed to charge $100/hour for billable work. In a 5-day 40-hour schedule, there are 2,080 hours/year. The "rule of thumb" I've read is, for a designer/entrepreneur, there are 1,440 billable hours. The remaining hours are for paperwork, self marketing, possibly managing and training staff.

After overhead and taxes (close to half), $144,000 boils down to $60K net. This is just for me - one person - working in a business with a very low entry cost. Add staff, and perhaps it balances out a bit better because you can pay them a lower wage, but in order to intentionally grow, you have to add on debt whether it's new equipment, new staff, etc., it's all a risk.

Netting $60,000/yr imho is not "greedy" for one person in a dual income family.

I understand that the world varies greatly in cost of living. Where I live, in order to buy a $300,000 house (this is the "low" price in our area) with "good" credit, compound interest and property taxes, my monthly payment would be around $2,100 (a total of almost $700K paid after 30 years). This doesn't take any consideration of home ownership problems like necessary repairs.

That total alone is $25,000/yr. Running a small business, everyone knows it's hard to have "good" credit so increase that to $2,500/mo - $30,000/yr. Add in a buffer/savings zone of $1,000/mo to cover home repairs, slow-paying clients, and suddenly I've spent almost 3/4 of my net income. Just on shelter for myself and two others. If this is applied to a dual income household, reasonably, the remainder could be used on a vacation or two or on luxury items - like a nicer car. With the exception of camping (gear is expensive, but other than campground fees, the costs would be similar to staying home), vacations are super expensive - I'd say easily $10,000 to see another country or a sunny island - IF you don't have connections or are able to do this as part of your job. If it's just one person earning those wages, the additional is spent on food and clothes (the cost can be high to keep up appearances). Increase the food budget if you want to eat real (unprocessed) food.

That scenario might work if it's a dual income family AND one is actually getting those 1,440 hours filled every year. For myself, I could never fill up those 1,440 hours by myself.

Apologies for the long way to preface my comments specifically on the OP's issue. I'd say I think that at least an hour is spent from the beginning of the transaction: talking on the phone making the appointment, getting the car up on the the lift, making new client files or adding to existing, to looking at the car, pulling it off the lift, meeting you again and explaining the problem or (hopefully) no problem and handing you your keys. None of that takes into consideration the high cost of entry for a garage to even operate.

It's not "greed" that is the problem. The problem is Capitalism. In the U.S., it's "The American Dream" of independence. And I'm not ignorant to the fact that it's becoming the norm world wide - ETA: even from the very beginning of a start-up business, it is the model required. In order to keep up and have a "piece of the pie," everyone has to charge more and earn more, thus a never ending cycle of charging more and earning more. The best way I think society has found to keep prices down, unfortunately, is to keep others down by paying them less. That will only last so long. I feel like we're being faced with a majority of uneducated population and inflation (I don't know a better word) so high that all we'll be able to do about it is work more.

In an effort to inspire everyone to see something different and possible, here's a vision from someone who has worked for years on the idea of a Resource-Based Economy. It's important that you keep an open mind about aesthetics and how it all works, as I say, it's one person's way of seeing it. I feel the principals are there, but a lot of comments I get on the idea are based on the way it looks and the fear that others will take what you "own". The main site is thevenusproject.com and, unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be gaining traction here because of those fears. I think too, since we can't ignore the current society/social structure, it's difficult to figure out how to work inside one while actively pursuing the alternative...but it's not impossible.

smile

(Edited on 2013-01-25 12:04:23 by pink_cotton_candy)


Now I'm remembering why I've put this off, Dawn ... it's long and it involves math! But I'll try and wade through it.


Also, testing thread subscriptions. Testing 1, 2, 3 ...
GreenPimp
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Posted Thu Mar 7, 2013 11:48AM
It helps to find a mechanic that doesn't have to pay the garage or garage owner's overhead. Someone who is more of a competent hobbyist. These people are out there and will do great work for you.

These are the people who have tinkered on cars their whole lives, enjoy car collector's gatherings, car auctions, car races, what have you. Self-proclaimed car junkies. They have all the necessary tools and most of the working knowledge minus the garage.

Easier repairs like electrical, plugs, wires, etc., that sort of thing a competent electrician can do, do not require the full working services and sky high charges of a garage.

Recently, I had a starter issue and the same electrical window problems as the OP. My mechanic friend took me to the pick-a-part salvage yard to source the parts we needed. He brought his trusty bag of tools and the adventure began.

As we walked through the rows of vehicles he pointed out things and educated me along the way. He pointed out bodies, too rare for salvage, that had a higher value on the collector's market. But, this yard was more interested in recycling and scrap. A giant crane loomed over the whole sun baked confines waiting to smash the metal into small cubes.

We walked past rows of trucks and cars, imported and domestic, all supported on stacks of metal wheels. We had to sign a waiver going in releasing the yard of any liabilities should the cars fall over on us. We weren't the only pickers on the lot. Like hungry rats, others too, were looking inside the propped up hoods to source needed parts.

We found a starter that appeared like new. Most likely it had replaced the original starter at one point in time. My friend clipped it from the car and off we went looking for the window electronics control panel. That proved to be a harder match as the manufacturer, Toyota, kept changing the configuration of the panel and wires over the years. Less standardized, so to say. This part was ordered new from eBay for $23.

We left the yard with the starter cost being $40. The declared wires and clips were given to us for free.

$63 total cost to get things working like new. My friend refused any payment and even multiple attempts to buy him lunch.

Not only was the experience highly educational I skirted what might have been the monumental professional mechanics fees.
Difydave
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Posted Thu Mar 7, 2013 12:11PM
Great story GreenPimp. There are nearly always alternatives to going down the expensive route of garages etc. Another point is that people like your friend do the work because they like doing it, and so are often more careful than many mechanics. Breakers yards are great sources of spares, although it's become more and more regulated here in the UK, and "Health and Safety" has stopped most of the taking off parts yourself. That used to be great as you say. People who want to run a car truly cheaply often buy a "spares or repair" scrapper for spares. take everything serviceable off and scrap the shell.
Willowpix
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Posted Thu Mar 7, 2013 1:20PM
^Tough driving through the automated car wash without that metal shell surrounding you. But otherwise an outstanding idea.
Difydave
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Posted Thu Mar 7, 2013 1:28PM

I would draw your attention to the words, "For Spares"

Willowpix
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Posted Thu Mar 7, 2013 6:23PM
How did I know you would almost certainly draw something like that.
Difydave
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Posted Fri Mar 8, 2013 2:45AM
On the other hand it would give you nice clean spares I suppose! And save showering too.
Willowpix
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Posted Fri Mar 8, 2013 8:43AM
And a nice smooth waxing everywhere you, uh, might need it. It's all good!!
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