Catching A Brake

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October 3, 2011 by David Gillaspie

Anything automotive means numbers.

Races are Coco Cola 600, Indy 500, or a 1 mile beer run to the bottom of the hill and back.

Some numbers carry more surprise than others.

The base cost of an Audi R8 is $114,000. The surprise is why anyone would park it in a gym lot. Unless you want a hyped up Zoomba dancer opening their Subaru door into yours, drive something else for the short stop-and-park trips.

The most important numbers come to the left of the decimal once you enter the garage for repairs. They jump from one garage to the next. They jump even more when you go back to the first garage with estimates from the others.

For instance:

A woman take her car in for an oil change and a brake check. Hmmm, the brakes need some work?

Estimate: $280.00.

Her husband says, “Get out of there and bring it home. Brake shoes cost $16.00. I’ll do in the driveway.”

He strips bolts and nuts until only three posts hold the tire on. After a peak inside the brake drum hole he gives up.

Figuring the dealer would charge higher for factory parts, the husband takes the car to an after-market shop for brakes.

Estimate: $1200.00.

In shock, he crawls back to the dealer with the estimate from the after-market shop. They laugh and take a closer look at the car.

Cost: $640.00.

The lesson learned? They gave the wife the best price. Go with it.

The after-market companies want to exchange all the parts in the assembly. You have to agree if you want their warranty to kick in.

Man Brain Says: “I’ve changed brakes before, I can change them again, even if they’re drum instead of disc and the packaging for the brake shoes says to replace or turn drums.

“If I fail at changing the brakes the first time, I”ll try again. I’ll quit when I start tearing things up and driving repair costs further up.

“I’ll outsmart the dealer mechanics by getting screwed over by a franchise shade-tree.

“I’ll be grateful if the dealer lets me come back and charges double the first estimate. “

Listen, you didn’t save any money. You paid double the first estimate, which is half the chain store estimate. You are not allowed to puff your chicken chest out like you made a gold strike.

At the same time, you don’t deserve a punch in the face for taking the high estimate back to the first shop. Not a smart decision, but at least you won’t be questioned for fixing your wife’s brakes.

We’ve all seen enough Perry Mason, the original CSI-LA, and read enough James M. Cain novels to know you can be convicted for what you didn’t do.

So don’t do it.

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