Monday, September 17, 2012

Greetings From The Service Department!

The service department waiting room or as I like to think of it "the blogger's writing room".

I have the day off thanks to the school system honoring the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hoshannah.  Mazel tov!  However, I am not enjoying this beautiful fall day as much as the rest of my fellow teachers.  The reason for this is simple.  I am in the waiting room of the service department of my local car dealership.

As waiting rooms go, this one is fairly well appointed.  It has a children's area with lollipops, puzzles and games, and a small television to play videos.  For the more mature waiting room hostages, they have a big screen HDTV, coffee and hot cocoa machines, free wifi and a work space with electrical outlets (my destination of choice upon arriving), and a wide variety of magazines adorning a coffee table surrounded by the requisite uncomfortable armchairs.  It's really not that bad except for the whole "I'm trapped here" part.

I've written whole blogs in this waiting room while waiting for the hybrid from hell to get serviced.  This is only a "maintenance minder" visit, meaning a little wrench magically and unexpectedly appeared on Saturday morning telling me that I had reached 15% oil life in my car.  It also meant that my car was going to pester me with an inability to see my odometer, trip mileage, and outside temperature until I visited the dealership to have them remove the little wrench.

I never know what to expect when the little wrench appears.  Sometimes, it's a quick one hour visit and a $50 charge.  At other times, like last February, it's an all day visit and a $400 charge.  The little wrench is like vehicular Russian roulette, you never know what is going to come out of a service department visit. 

I went online and printed off a variety of coupons covering a wide gambit of vehicular possibilities, in the hopes of reducing the sticker shock for this visit.  Luckily, the service department I use honors coupons from other Honda dealerships.  Although my service department's web page had no coupons today, I was able to find a 10% off scheduled maintenance coupon from a different dealership's website that they accepted.  Whatever the damage ends up being for this trip, I will only be paying for 90% of it.  Yay for coupons!

The estimate was $295, minus the 10% discount and I should be looking at about 265 bucks plus tax.  Ouch!  That only applies if they don't find anything else wrong with the car and there is plenty else wrong with the car.  Both driver's side doors have locking issues which I've been told each require a new door lock actuator.  I know from past experience that replacing a door lock actuator is a $400 hit to my budget.  I know this because I have replaced all the locks on my car at least once.  Rather than figure out what is making my door lock actuators short out, Honda just keeps replacing them.  My money is on leaky door seals causing the shorts.  I didn't care if they just replaced the actuators when the car was under warranty, but it's been five years and almost 30,000 miles so they aren't covered anymore.  After replacing the fourth door lock actuator, I decided that I was willing to manually lock and unlock the doors and live without keyless entry rather than pay for any more pricey lock actuators.

I also know that the front tires are starting to wear thin because the car gets a shimmy whenever I drive over 65 miles per hour.  According to the owner's manual, I should need to replace my tires every 60,000 miles.  I replaced two tires at 15,000 miles due to a flat and extreme tire wear from my apparently crazy driving style.  Wait... I hear my name being called!

Service Tech: "Ms. Lainey?"

Me: "Yes?"

Service Tech: "You are going to need to replace your two front tires."

Me: "Do I have to do it today?"

Service Tech: "Ma'am, I wouldn't feel safe letting you leave here on at least one of those tires."

Me: "I don't think I'm going to get the tires here today.  I'll go to my local tire place."

Service Tech: "Ma'am, the steel tread is showing through on your front left tire.  Would you like to come out and look at it?"

Me: "No, I know the tires need replacing.  The car does a shimmy whenever I drive over 65 miles per hour.  How close am I to blowing out the tire?"

Service Tech: "I'm amazed you made it here today, ma'am."

Have I mentioned that I hate being called ma'am?

Me: "How much to replace just the one really dangerous tire?"

Service Tech: "140 dollars, but we really recommend you replace both, ma'am.  You drive a hybrid and they require special tires or else the gas mileage is affected."

Me: (struggling not to laugh at the comment about affecting the mileage of my sucky Civic hybrid) "I'll go straight to the tire place after I leave here this morning."

(Service tech leaves for a minute and comes back with a camera phone picture of my wonky tire.)

Service Tech: "Here's what the tire looks like right now, Ms. Lainey.  It really needs to be replaced before you drive the car again."

Me: "Can you e-mail me that picture?" You all wanted to see the picture, right?

Service Tech: "Yes, ma'am.  Just tell me the e-mail address."

Yeah, I'm no service tech, but that doesn't look good.
(photography by Service Tech Jake)

Me: (chagrined and mentally shuffling my budget) "Okay, replace both front tires."

Crap!  My monthly budget is blown.  A $265 visit to the service department has just become a $545, plus tax visit to the service department.  I'm going to have to shuffle money from savings to checking to counteract the hit my checking account is about to take.

I really hate my hybrid.  Only eight more payments til I own the "not so green" machine outright! 
Take my advice and don't ever buy a Honda Civic hybrid.

Yet another blog completed
from the Service Department Waiting Room

1 comment:

  1. I've written a post from the service department before too and I wish I had thought of printing coupons in advance like you did. What a brilliant idea! *gasp* At the cost of your visit. I'll heed your advice.