Why do all car problems happen on Sunday? We never seem to have any issues when our mechanic is open. Oh well.
Last Sunday afternoon, while we were driving a friend home, our Prius beeped at us and gave us a ton of warning lights. We pulled over but couldn’t see, smell, or sense any problems, so we decided to drop our friend off and just go to our mechanic Monday morning.
The only thing that seemed wrong was that the A/C wasn’t cooling the air it was blowing. I checked under the hood and under the car twice just to make sure the thermostat housing hadn’t busted and dropped all of the coolant on the ground, which happened to me before in my stupid Aveo a few years ago. But nothing was leaking out of anything. Still, the drive home was sweltering without air conditioning and we were anxious the whole time.
So we dropped off the Prius Monday morning as planned. My normal dude was off for the day, but a new guy (who I found out more about later) got us squared away and said he’d call with an update. I ended up calling him in the early afternoon before he had the chance to work my call in. Apparently the solar sensor is broken, which means that even though the A/C could possibly work, this stupid sensor is telling it not to.
So they had to order the part and have it overnighted.
The good news was that a solar sensor is a $37 part. So even with labor, we could have been looking at around $200. The bad news is that even when the solar sensor is fixed, 70% of the time that means the amplifier is broken too and that’s a $475 part and would need even more labor. So we’d be looking at a $700-$1000 bill.
The solar sensor arrived around 2pm and our car was ready to be picked up at around 4pm. 🙂 It drove fine on the way home and the A/C worked again, yay! If you have to have a problem, it’s good to have the less expensive one!!!
The grand total came to $216 for the sensor, the labor, and an oil change (it was time). BUT, the shop was just purchased by new owners a few days ago. It didn’t affect our service since they kept the same employees, but they didn’t have a credit card machine yet. I hadn’t brought cash or checks since they didn’t tell me in advance. But the new owner, Oscar, was actually the guy I had been working with the whole time! He said that my favorite mechanic (Mike) vouched for me and I could call the next day with my card info and he’d run it on the new machine. Awww, thanks Mike!
Well, I was writing this post Tuesday afternoon and realized that I hadn’t asked about a AAA discount or a cash discount. So I called Oscar again. Sadly, they aren’t working with AAA yet (next few weeks), but he offered to work something out with me since he knows that missing a discount by a couple of weeks just sucks. I offered cash instead of a credit card and he jumped on the offer and told me to come in Wednesday to work out a deal.
Working Out a Cash Deal on Wednesday
This was pretty easy. I even made the best of driving 20 minutes away by scheduling to meet up with a friend to swim after handling the car stuff since she was only 10 minutes away at that point. 🙂
I took $220 in cash, drove to the mechanic again, and he cut the total to $200. Woot! It’s only a savings of $16, but that was more than I had saved by not asking. I also make 30 miles to the gallon and drove less than that roundtrip, so I definitely netted an overall profit. Plus, I got to swim with a friend and earned some more Weight Watcher points. 😀
So here is my official thanks to Oscar and Mike over at the newly named, Affordable Complete Car Care Group! I’ll link to their website as soon as it is up and running. 🙂 If you live in the Houston area, I highly recommend them!
What This Means Financially
Thankfully, we have a car maintenance fund at CapitalOne 360 (formerly ING Direct). It could have covered the worst case scenario if necessary, but that doesn’t make car problems much more fun to deal with. Although…I do get a kick out of haggling. It makes my posts more interesting too, lol.
Any car stories from any of you lately? 🙂
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!