Thursday, August 03, 2006

Should an oil change cost $219?

This morning began with an early trek to get the oil changed on the Escape. While a standard oil change takes about half an hour and cost $26... I ended up spending 3 hours at the garage and spending $219.

When it comes to mechanics, car parts, estimated labour costs, etc. I will admit that my expertise in these areas are pretty much NADDA, ZIP, ZERO - I am definitely out of my comfort zone. But time and time again I put myself in the position of making decisions about the Escape -- and I absolutely cringe when this happens because I know P is liable to shake his head the moment I tell him that a $26 oil change cost 'us' $219.

Now it is not often that the Escape needs maitenance, other than a standard oil change every 5,000 km, but there have a few instances where I have been left alone with Escape, the service manager, and the pressure to replace parts has been present.

Like today for example... when I brought the Escape in, I mentioned to the service agent that I noticed some vibrating/flickering (surprise...I don't know the mechanical term) in the steering wheel when travellling between 120 & 130 km/hour (yes Dad, I know the speed limit is 100 km). So... being the customer service representative that he is... he ask me to do a road test with him to show him exactly what I mean and sure enough the Escape did perform up to my prediction. The service manager noted it and said they would look into it.

Turns out... the left tire rod (or something like that) was loose and slightly fractured, and the service agent indicated that was what was causing the vibrating. He then proceeded to take me into the garage, hoist up the Escape, and show me the difference between the left rod and right rod (for all I know he could have been showing me the brakes, fuel line, or bumper). Chances are this slight fracture may have been a result of my off-road ditch adventure this winter, but whatever the case is, the part needed to be replaced.

So... the service manager says to: 'Well the good news Sara, is the part is only $23, the bad news is ... is that when we replace the rod, we have to do a tire alignment, and that is where the cost really is.'

All I was thinking was: where is PC when you need him? All I could do was say, well if you have to do it, I guess you have to do it, but I know that P would have somehow talked the guy into less work, or the same amont of work, but for less money, or the same amount of money, but a few freebies on top. I on the other hand just stood their nodded like a dumb blonde would.

Grrrrrrrrrrr.... although I find the service at Dupuis very good, and the staff friendly and polite I have to wonder if the service manager would have had the same approach with P. I hated every minute I was at the garage, soley because I know nothing about service repairs, and they know I know nothing -- and I think they use that to their advantage.

After paying the bill... I drove out there and made sure to drive 130 km back home to see if the vibrating was fixed... and it was... so I guess minus the fact that it cost $200, I am satisfied that the Escape is running well, and it is safe for travelling - but the next time its needs service PC will be doing the service negoitating, and I can guarantee that it will only cost 'us' $26.