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Old 2022-04-24, 00:15   #1
storm5510
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Default Auto Repairs

I have a 1999 Dodge Dakota Sport pickup truck I inherited when my father passed away in 2011. It was low mileage and garage kept, so it looked really good. Now, it sits out in the weather all the time. It has a fiberglass bed cover and some of the clear-coat paint is beginning to peel. No rust anywhere though.

Back on the 7th of this month, I decided to go visit the local grocery as I had some things I needed. I tried to start it, but it would not go. I tried several more times without success. The next morning I tried again. Nothing. The battery had began to get a bit weak so I left it alone.

I called a local auto service shop and they agreed to come and get it. They winched it onto a flatbed truck and away it went. I was told it would be several days before they could get to it because of being busy. Actually, it took close to a week.

They called me on the 15th and said it was done and it ran fine. The damage: $705.07 USD. What a shock this was! It needed new spark plugs, new spark plug wires, a distributor cap, and an ignition coil. It also needed an oil change because it had gasoline in the oil from where I cranked it so much trying to start it.

They charged me $70 for the tow which was about 0.8 miles. This was included in the total. $270 for labor, and the parts were $411. There were other things, like sales tax, for instance. The invoice says, "NAPA AutoCare Center" on the top. This explains a lot. NAPA has a tendency to charge a lot more for parts than places like AutoZone and the like. One thing is certain. I will not be going back there again!
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Old 2022-04-24, 01:14   #2
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That isn't a major auto repair. That is just basic maintenance.

For what you paid you could have bought the tools ten times over to do the job yourself.

Learning simple maintenance is really easy via YouTube.

If you are unwilling to learn then you will always be taken advantage of because you have no other choice.

Start small. Buy a service manual. Be self sufficient. Take charge of your destiny.

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Old 2022-04-24, 01:43   #3
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
Start small. Buy a service manual. Be self sufficient. Take charge of your destiny.
Fully agree, Mike.

It's sometimes fun being insane.
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Old 2022-04-24, 02:15   #4
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In the "major ouch" category:
I hit a rock/debris on the freeway at ~120kph, punched a hole in my front bumper cover just below the headlight. The bill to replace the front bumper: $12,000.
I'm starting to rethink my taste in cars.
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Old 2022-04-24, 02:52   #5
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I'm an old school (last century) electronics tech - kind of advanced TV repairman. A while back a service center wanted to replace my car's computer for a little over $1000 for just parts. I took the computer apart and replaced a chip for $1.19 and some soldering. But to be fair, the Service center can't make money working at the chip level - only by r/r larger components, like the computer. And, nowadays labor is ~$100/hr.

Smilar situation for a friend who had a sensor go bad in his differential. Can't replace the sensor. Have to replace the differential. In his case, he replaced the vehicle.
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Old 2022-04-24, 14:49   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
That isn't a major auto repair. That is just basic maintenance.

For what you paid you could have bought the tools ten times over to do the job yourself.

I have an aftermarket manual specific to that year and model.

When I was younger, and vehicles were less complex, I did all my maintenance work myself and got great satisfaction from it. When I graduated from high school, my first job was at a full service gas station with a service garage. I learned a lot from the men I worked with. This was in the early 1970's. The closest thing to electronics was the radio inside.

I had already done some simple maintenance work on this truck myself. Specifically, a coolant temperature sensor and a serpentine belt. I live in an apartment complex and any automotive work in the parking lots is not allowed. It would be a violation of my lease agreement. So, I didn't want to risk it. All the things this service shop did, I have done before myself on several occasions over the years. Bottom line: I didn't want to risk getting kicked out of my home, or whatever one would want to call it.

A typical ignition coil is supposed to produce 60,000 volts. The one I had was only producing 12,000. In any case, what is done is done. I had no idea service work had gotten this costly. Live and learn.
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Old 2022-04-24, 16:37   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdH View Post
I'm an old school (last century) electronics tech - kind of advanced TV repairman. A while back a service center wanted to replace my car's computer for a little over $1000 for just parts. I took the computer apart and replaced a chip for $1.19 and some soldering.
Reminds me of a TV repair I did a while back. First I shopped around and was repeatedly told it would be too costly to repair. A little online research, diagnostics, and a trip to the nearest Radio Shack, spent $4 for a pair of new capacitors, 4 hours total including online and drive and all repair/reassemble time, 32" digital TV like new again (instead of paying a recycling center more to take it), using a 4 decade old screwdriver, soldering iron, solder sucker and diagonal cutter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by storm5510 View Post
I have an aftermarket manual specific to that year and model.

When I was younger, and vehicles were less complex, I did all my maintenance work myself and got great satisfaction from it.
...
Live and learn.
Those manuals are great. Lots of us did our own mechanic work, when we were younger, with sharper eyes, less-sore backs, etc, and tighter budgets. Now it is harder both in the complexity sense and the physical ability /tradeoff sense. I don't mind at all, reading while waiting in the repair shop while someone younger does the wrenching on a proper lift. Although sometimes the price is an unpleasant surprise from even the best shops.

While I get that there may be some sentiment attached, your 1999 pickup is in the age range where a too-costly-to-repair estimate is an increasing likelihood. I have a 2000 Ranger, so can relate to wanting to keep the familiar going a while longer. Pricing a new vehicle can support a considerable repair cost. Plus this one is equipped quite near what I think would be ideal for me. Trade-in value would likely be near zero.
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Old 2022-04-24, 23:12   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kriesel View Post
...While I get that there may be some sentiment attached, your 1999 pickup is in the age range where a too-costly-to-repair estimate is an increasing likelihood. I have a 2000 Ranger, so can relate to wanting to keep the familiar going a while longer. Pricing a new vehicle can support a considerable repair cost. Plus this one is equipped quite near what I think would be ideal for me. Trade-in value would likely be near zero.
My father bought this truck new in early 2000. The bed cover he added a year or so later. He had started his own commercial painting business back in 1984 after taking an early retirement from a factory he had worked in for 24 years. He added the locking cover so he would not have to remove all this painting tools and ladders when he wanted to go to town. He ended his painting work in 2006 at age 83. When he passed away in 2011, the truck had something just above 29,000 miles on it. After he stopped working, he drove it once a week, on Saturday's, to meet my older brother for breakfast at the local McDonalds. He had a Toyota Camry he drove on Sunday.

Now, it has 53,000 miles on it, or there about. Everything it had done earlier this month was a result of age more than anything. The only thing I had done, beyond the sensor, belt and oil changes, was a new battery in 2012. Being retired now myself, I only drive when necessary and it is all local. No roads trips, period. So, it should be good to go for quite a while yet to come.
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Old 2022-04-25, 01:05   #9
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by storm5510 View Post
Being retired now myself, I only drive when necessary and it is all local. No roads trips, period. So, it should be good to go for quite a while yet to come.
I resonate. I won't retire until I die, but I find little use for owning a vehicle (other than the vehicle my partner needs to impress clients with).

If I *need* to go somewhere and the shared vehicle isn't available, I simply walk. Or, I hail a taxi. Far less expensive.
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Old 2022-04-25, 01:45   #10
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Last December my "low tire pressure" warning light started blinking, continued blinking for some time, then came on steady, stayed on for a while, then went out. Odd. I pulled in to a gas station and checked the pressure with my tire gauge. One tire was very slightly low, though it didn't seem low enough to trigger a warning. I topped it up anyway, and rechecked all four tires.

A week or so later, the warning light went through the same routine as I approached the store I was headed to. I checked the pressure in all four tires. All good. No change since I'd topped up the one tire.

I concluded that it must be a bad sensor (or maybe more than one). I was planning to bring my car in for maintenance anyway. I described the problem to the mechanic. He confirmed my diagnosis. The tire pressure sensors were old enough to be crapping out. The only thing for it was, have all four of them replaced. That added considerably to the "ouch" of the bill! But I doubt I could have done the job myself. And the problem has not recurred...
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Old 2022-04-25, 02:42   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Sardonicus View Post
Last December my "low tire pressure" warning light started blinking, continued blinking for some time, then came on steady, stayed on for a while, then went out. Odd. I pulled in to a gas station and checked the pressure with my tire gauge. One tire was very slightly low, though it didn't seem low enough to trigger a warning. I topped it up anyway, and rechecked all four tires.

A week or so later, the warning light went through the same routine as I approached the store I was headed to. I checked the pressure in all four tires. All good. No change since I'd topped up the one tire.

I concluded that it must be a bad sensor (or maybe more than one). I was planning to bring my car in for maintenance anyway. I described the problem to the mechanic. He confirmed my diagnosis. The tire pressure sensors were old enough to be crapping out. The only thing for it was, have all four of them replaced. That added considerably to the "ouch" of the bill! But I doubt I could have done the job myself. And the problem has not recurred...
Of course, back in the day you didn't need a low tire pressure sensor. When you pulled into the station for gas, after the attendant started pumping the they checked your oil and topped off your tire pressure, and would clean your windshield. Of course, in most states gas stations are just that, they are no longer service stations. The air pumps (if the station even has one and doesn't charge for using it) no longer have good gauges on them.

But the public also made its choice, in California when there were full service islands and self service islands that were cheaper at the gas station, people mostly chose self service. It's rare to find full service stations any more except in states that require it.
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