Friday, June 6, 2008

Everyone needs one...a good mechanic.

Tow charge from Tasca Ford to Precision Automotive.....$60
New battery, battery cable, and labor.....$167
Finding a good, honest mechanic to rescue me from the fangs of the Ford dealership...Priceless!

A couple days ago I went to Roger Williams Park, as I have been doing a lot these days, to relax and take some pictures. I brought a lunch, with the idea of spending the afternoon there. As I was pulling into the park, there was a little bit of a road block as a mass of geese and a couple swans decided to cross the road all at once. There were cars lined up in both directions honking at the birds as if that's the way to motivate them to get out of the wasn't. I found the whole situation a little comical, and since there was a swan in the bunch, I got out to take some pictures. You see, my mom started a photo scavenger hunt for the month of June, and one of the items on the list was a "bird that is mostly white." I have taken pictures of the swans at the park before, but one of the rules was that the picture had to be taken this month, so I figured this was perfect.

Anyway, I parked my car and spent a few minutes taking pictures of the swans and geese, and got back into my car to head to the picnic area to eat my lunch. Well, my car wouldn't start. It wouldn't even turn over. Unfortunately, John was still at school, so I was stuck. I wandered around the park for a while and found a place to eat lunch. I was hoping by some stroke of luck that when I made my way back to the car, somehow my car would just start up...wishful thinking.

After a couple hours at the park, and many phone calls, I finally got in touch with John to come meet me and a tow truck. The tow truck driver, who was really nice, took a look at the car before we left, and showed us that the problem was leaking battery acid that had eaten through the positive cable and connectors on the battery. The battery would be a simple fix, but the cable which ran from the battery to some mysterious location underneath the engine would require a lift to get under the car, which we did not have. So we needed to get to a mechanic.

Unfortunately, Ford Roadside Assistance will only tow cars to Ford dealerships, so off we went to Tasca Ford in Cranston. They said that just to look at the car to tell us what was wrong (even though we had already told them what was wrong) would cost me $90 for a "diagnostic fee," but not to worry, the cable was probably covered under my extended warranty in which case the $90 fee would be waived. Two hours later, a phone call from Ford told us that in fact the part was not covered (how convenient-nothing ever is), and that the parts and labor would cost $835!! We were floored, since my brother-in-law had told me to expect somewhere around $200.

So, now I was in search of another estimate because obviously $835 was a little insane. I called a few friends for recommendations, and then thought to call my church for a recommendation as well. Jodi, in the office, referred me to Mike at Precision Automotive in West Warwick. He gave me an estimate of around $150-$200 for parts and labor. After the quote from Ford, I am not sure what I was expecting, but definitely not that low! We had the car fixed yesterday for $167, and even though we had to pay another $60 for a tow to another garage, it was worth it.

I did call the Ford dealer to let them know that I was taking my car somewhere else. I tried to get out of paying the $90 "diagnostic fee" since all they had done was tell me exactly what we had told them when we walked in the door, but it was to no avail. Basically, I took a $90 gamble that the part would be covered under my warranty, in which case everything would be taken care of free of charge, but things never seem to work out that way with Ford. I bought that extended warranty for times just like this, but every time I take my car in, nothing seems to be covered under the warranty. The problem is, they won't tell me whether or not a part is under warranty until after I've paid the $90. They are holding my warranty hostage, and I told them as much when I called. I also questioned how they can feel right about quoting $835 for work that only cost $167 elsewhere. Instead of responding to my question, I got a polite, but annoyed "Can I help you with anything else, m'am?"

Is there really any wonder why Ford is tanking? When a company sells useless warranties, doesn't stand by their product or abide by their recalls (this is not he first problem with this car), and has service people that are trying to rob you blind, is it any wonder why people would rather buy a Toyota?