Until maybe the last year or so, I’ve always generally steered clear of doing maintenance and repair work directly at car dealerships under the idea that they’re always just so ridiculously overpriced.
That’s slowly changed with Sara’s car because although for a while we were shopping around or taking it to the local shop where I’ve taken my own car for years, it seemed like her standard oil changes kept going higher and higher … at everywhere but the actual Honda dealer. Whereas the other guys liked to tack on new fees for the special oil that her hybrid uses – I think the absolute worst wanted something like $60 for a single oil change – the dealer seems to have no problem staying competitive and after coupons, it’s now some of the cheapest oil changes I’ve ever seen!
But that’s not what this post is about.
So yesterday we traveled down to Anna Maria Island south of us to celebrate one of Sara’s cousins renewing their vows. Despite numerous visual cues, the weather somehow managed to remain remarkably not rainy, and it was surprisingly nice having the sun hidden behind clouds all evening because it helped to keep the temperatures on the beach down a bit. All in all it was a pretty fun time, however the evening wasn’t without it’s share of “excitement” in that only a few miles away on our arrival to said party … the brakes on Sara’s car went out.
Well, I’m not entirely sure if went out is the appropriate term, but just as we were going over the last bridge onto the island, which is pretty much the worst possible time for one to experience problems with his vehicle’s braking capabilities, the brake pedal suddenly went all the way to the floor and a bevvy of warning lights flashed across the dashboard as I temporarily panicked about whether we were going to hit the car in front of us as an alternative to driving off the side of the bridge…
Thankfully there was still some sort of braking left, though nearly all of the resistance in the pedal was gone. We limped our way over to the party, and afterwards stopped at the nearest 7-11 to pick up a bottle of brake fluid … of which I dumped nearly the entire thing into the container, although it didn’t seem to do much good…
…until I hit a giant pot hole in a parking lot, and we heard a *cling* as something fell on the ground, and then they started working just fine again?!
So needless to say, we were pretty paranoid all of the way home and I did my best to pick the route with the least stops so that we wouldn’t have to brake much. Luckily because it was 11pm on a weeknight, traffic was fairly minimal on the freeway all of the way home. When we pulled in the driveway safely an hour later, I vowed to get the thing in to the dealership the next morning to figure out what in the world was going wrong. My Mom is flying in tomorrow and we need to pick her up from the airport, so we need to have a car that can actually stop on demand! 😯
Because at that point there were two possible solutions in my mind:
- Something bad had happened with her brakes that was going to cost me hundreds of dollars after I just spent $450 doing all sorts of other maintenance on her car
- Something bad had happened when the dealership had flushed her brakes and what had just happened was totally their fault
Surprisingly after only a short diagnosis, it turns out that neither of those scenarios were correct, and what had happened was that somehow a tiny rock had flicked up from the road at some point and somehow managed to get stuck in one of the brake calipers, meaning that because it couldn’t maintain pressure like it was supposed to, instead whenever I pressed on the brake pedal it had just been spraying brake fluid all over the ground, hence the empty fluid and the lack of braking power.
Now what was pretty awesome about the whole thing is that after explaining just how unlikely it was that the scenario even happened in the first place, much less would ever happen again, the dealership didn’t charge me a dime for bringing my car in.
I would’ve expected even just a $90 diagnostic charge or something for their trouble, yet instead the service advisor merely shook my hand after he explained to me what they had found, and that was that.
You don’t really ever expect to get free things when you take your car into the shop – if anything, it’s usually much more painful than that, so that quick reassurance as a simple courtesy went a long way for showing how much they actually appreciated my previous service visits over the last couple of years.
It’s also why they’ll continue to see me in the future – because I don’t mind paying a little more every now and then if you also treat me like a human being and cut me a break every once in a while, too. 😉
So thanks again, Mike and everyone else at the Wesley Chapel Honda Service Department … we’ll see you next time!