Car servicing: dealer or elsewhere?
The other week my right hand car mirror lost its glass. I have no idea why. I had adjusted it because I noticed it was out of alignment, then a minute or two later, it fell off and shattered while driving. Bizarro.
I put a temporary $6 concave mirror on it, and in the process walked into Autobarn for possibly the first and last time ever.
But the broken mirror provided the impetus to go get the car serviced, along with the remote locking not working, which had been is a constant pain.
I had previously been going to the dealer I bought the car from, Alan Mance. As long as I was going to them for regular service for the first two years since buying it from them, the used car warranty stayed current, but that’s all over now.
So I thought I’d find the closest dealer, figuring that taking it to a dealer avoids delays with parts, or dodgy repairs because they don’t know what they’re doing. At least that’s the theory.
They had a look, and gave me some quotes (parts plus labour).
Transponder and key cutting… $260. And apparently it’s not the most expensive Holden, either, for keys. Ouch.
They reckoned it needs a new clutch pedal… $30. Yeah, okay.
New glass for the mirror… $177. Ouch. Lucky it was just the glass.
Plus the actual service ($225).
Bloody cars. Expensive.
Plus I had to battle horrible traffic in the rain to get there (remind me not to use Nepean Highway again in peak hour).
Dropping the car off, I knew it was a ten minute walk to the station, but the rain was coming down. A lady was waiting for a cab to the station, and the service guy suggested we split the fare. We waited. And waited.
After about 15 minutes, she noted it’d actually been about 40 minutes since the cab had been called. The rain wasn’t so hard at that point, so I bailed on her and walked. Ten minutes later I was at the station and straight onto a train — a little soggy, but on my way. I found out later the cab never arrived. Marvellous.
Coming back in the afternoon, it was dry. I got there about 5:15, only to find (as I’d been warned) the car was still being worked on. It took until just after 6pm for it to be done and dusted, and although the waiting room is terribly nice, it wasn’t much fun to be sitting there, places to go, nothing to do but fiddle with my phone and watch the TV, silently wondering how the constestants on Millionaire Hot Seat could not know that “Northern Exposure” was set in Alaska (rather than Hawaii, Florida or New Mexico, and respite Eddie emphasising the obvious clue of Northern).
The dealer had also found a fault with the reverse lights (in short, they don’t work) for which they don’t have the part in stock. And it’ll cost another $110 including labour to do it. That’s pretty annoying too, but it’ll have to happen.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom: they came up with a rather clever way of avoiding paying for a whole new key, despite a little bit missing off mine which means it doesn’t all stay together well. A piece of electrical tape to keep it intact.
And they let me know what with that model of Astra, it really doesn’t matter if it goes a year between oil changes. Given I barely drive it, this is good to know. I needn’t feel like I need to rush back every six months for a pointless service.
Still, I drove home pondering if I shouldn’t have just gone to Ultratune in Mckinnon, which is a much shorter (especially in peak hour) trip, only a stone’s throw from the nearest station, and undoubtedly cheaper.
Some lessons from this
Dealers don’t necessarily have all the parts you need in stock.
Close is good, because driving through peak hour traffic is not my idea of fun.
Don’t bother waiting for a taxi in peak hour when it’s raining if you’re in a hurry.
Will consider using Ultratune next time, especially if it’s just an oil change and basic stuff like checking brake pads. It’s not like a continuous record of dealer servicing matters for re-sale value of a car that is already 12 years old, and that I have no plans to sell anyway.
What do others do when getting their cars serviced?