But it’s still an important lesson, so here we go:
Once upon a time (about three weeks ago), Tim was taking the car for an oil change. He stopped along the way for a cold drink. When he came out, the car wouldn’t start.
Unfortunately, he’d also forgotten the iPhone and couldn’t call for a tow. Since he was only a mile from home* he decided to hoof it back. It 105-degree heat.
He got back — still in a solid state, no less — and called AAA for a tow. He convinced AAA to pick him up on the way, then he and the car got deposited at the mechanic’s.
We heard back pretty quickly from the mechanic. The car wouldn’t start because the alternator wasn’t working. He warned me that it was a pricey part to fix: about $600 including labor.
He’d noticed that one of the … nodes? coils? We’ll just say “spots.” One of the spots wasn’t behaving charge-wise. That could’ve been causing the alternator trouble — and be much cheaper to boot — so he wanted to replace the battery first, then see if the alternator behaved itself.
I agreed but, as he was telling me about the battery he’d use, my brain stuck on the warranty he mentioned. Warranty. Warranty. Battery warranty… Why does that sound familiar?
Then dimly I recalled AAA coming out to replace the battery a while back. A quick call to AAA confirmed that the thing was still under warranty.
Sure enough, once the battery was fixed the alternator started working again. Hooray!
But there was still other work to be done.
We also got the previously intended oil change. We had them check the freon because the A/C wasn’t really cooling. But it turns out we were only down one unit, which didn’t explain the cooling issue.
Turns out, sometimes filters aren’t a rip-off. They replaced an interior filter, and the car was once again cool. In fact, I now get cold and have to turn it down while we’re driving. It’s heavenly.
Unfortunately, they discovered that the front tires were worn down and the back brakes needed replacing. That was surprising given that Sears had replaced them about 15 months ago. But a quick call to the store confirmed that sometimes brakes can be that short-lived. Especially if you “ride them too hard.”**
Unfortunately, the brakes weren’t covered, but the tires still were. They had already seen some use, so the coverage was pro-rated. Still, we got about half off, and those are, of course, warrantied as well.
Altogether, we paid $482 for the parts and labor plus $99 for the tires.
Not great, but it’d have been at least $200 more if I’d forgotten about the warranties. Besides, it was still cheaper than a new alternator!
Have warranties ever saved your financial butt?
* But what is that in fibromyalgia miles?
** Not sure if that means hard sudden stops or using the brakes longer for a slow stop. I need to look that up.