As I might have mentioned in an earlier blog (honestly, I can't remember if I did or not), my car pooped out on me on Thursday. It was severely misfiring when I was driving it home, and started making a funny noise and it smelled like something was burning. And the check engine light was flashing. (It's always on because of an O2 sensor, but I'm good at ignoring it until it starts flashing at me...)
So our car insurance covers a tow. We called a shop in town and asked if they worked on Volkswagen's and they said they did. We had it towed up there Friday around 1pm and on Monday around 2pm they finally contacted us and said they didn't know what was wrong with it and they couldn't fix it because their diagnostic machine wasn't compatible with VW's.... Hmmm. Pretty sure that's why we called you in the first place and ASKED if you worked on VW's... I was pissed. Mark, being the nice guy he is, said that you couldn't fault the guy for trying to make a living and hoping it was an easy fix. Actually... I could, but I let it go. So we had the car towed to auto shop #2 on Tuesday.
I called auto shop #2 today and asked if they'd found anything out about the car. He said that the ignition coil and modular (which is one component) went out on it, which was causing cylinders 3 and 5 to misfire, and that the ignition coil needed to be replaced, along with the spark plugs and spark plug wires. And that the air filter needed to be replaced also. I asked how much that was going to be and he said (brace yourself): $1370. ....!!!!! After my heart started beating again I asked for a breakdown of that bill. He wanted to charge $560 for the coil and $140 for labor for the coil, and then the spark plugs, wires and labor were going to be another $450 and $55 for the air filter. The air filter price is what tipped me off. $55 for a freaking air filter??? What's it made of? Gold? So I figured out pretty quickly that this guy was trying to rip me off. I told the guy I'd get back to him and I called a parts store in town and got a price quote for the coil, plugs and wires, which with tax and everything came to $599.... That's a pretty darn big difference! $771 difference to be exact. There was no way in hell I was going to pay someone $771 to fix my car which would maybe take 2 hours max.
On my way home from work, I stopped by auto shop #2 to get an itemized quote. When we had car towed over there we asked how much it would be and the tow place said $35. However, on this bill from the shop, it was showing as $53.85. I asked the guy about it and he said "Well we make a commission on tows and that's for us doing the paperwork." I asked him what his mark up was and he said 30%. I said, that's more than a 30% mark up. That's close to a 70% mark up. He didn't respond. So I took the quote and left and called my dad, knowing there was no way in hell I was letting that place work on my car.
Long story short (well.... kinda) my dad has a connection in Dubuque where he can get new VW parts (not aftermarket replacements) from and thought that all the parts would be around $450 or less. He's going to get them for me and then overnight them to us here. The base has an auto hobby shop that is available for us to use. You pay like $8 to rent a stall and they have certified mechanics there to help you with whatever you're doing and show you how to do it, and you get access to all of their tools and machines and car lifts, etc, all for $8! So we're definitely going to be doing this ourselves. I'm breathing normally again now that I know it's going to cost around $500 instead of almost three times that much.
While this whole situation is frustrating beyond belief, I am so thankful that my dad taught me well and gave me a decent background in mechanics. One of my good friends at work said she wouldn't have had a clue they were trying to rip her off because she has no car background. I am very lucky I grew up with an exceedingly mechanically inclined dad who was more than willing to share his knowledge with me. All in all, I'm one lucky girl! (But still don't piss me off!) =)