Costly Repair

It has been nearly a year since I did a service on my Accord and the “Maintenance Required” light has been on for quite some time (I did change oil regularly though). I felt it was due for a service, but didn’t really find time to do it. Last Thursday on my way to work, the “Check Engine” light even went on. No more delays, I told myself.

I took the car to a Honda dealer near by Tuesday to get the service done. Actually, not just the service, but also to check if there’s anything serious with the engine. I have more than 85K miles on the car and it was running very well, didn’t give me any big trouble in the past seven years. So maybe it was about time for a major service.

While I was waiting, the CSR came to me with a list of recommendations:

  1. The cost of the service is $210
  2. There was a minor leak (EVAP leak) that caused the “Check Engine” light to come up. The cost of diagnosis and fixing the leak is $90.
  3. The battery is weak so it will affect the car’s performance. A new one will be $135.
  4. The four rotors are rusty and the front one has deep curves on the surface that can’t be smoothed out. For your safety, they need to be replaced for $899.
  5. The timing belt and water pump are due for replacement as well, this is again for your safety at a price of $660.

I was shocked to see a bill that ran to almost $2,000! That’s a lot for a car that has a fair market value between $7,000 and $8,000.

Eventually, I declined to get a new battery and four rotors from the dealer and chose only to replace the timing belt and water pump. I know this can be done at many garages, but my past bad experience with a local shop made me feel it’s better to go with the dealer. Four years ago, I replaced the timing belt of my old Corolla at a small garage that I used many times for regular service. Don’t know if the belt was defective or not, but it broke a little more than one month later while I was 30 miles away from home. Not a pleasant experience. Since then I tried to use dealers when the service involves critical parts, even it means I have to pay a little more.

Yesterday, when I picked up my car, I signed a credit card bill of $953.37.


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5 Responses to “Costly Repair”

  1. Flexo |  May 24, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    This seems pretty high — even for a dealer! My Civic’s approaching 80,000 and I want to get the regularly scheduled service. I know they’ll try to hit me up for a G as it’s been a while… I’ve been taking it to Pep Boys for cheaper service.

  2. Ben |  May 25, 2007 at 1:23 am

    I hope you paid with a rewards credit card!

    One other thing, sometimes that EVAP leak that causes your check engine light to come on can be caused by a loose gas cap. I know because I paid $50 once for a diagnostic check that turned out to just be the loose gas cap.

  3. Suresh |  May 25, 2007 at 5:31 am

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  4. Jon @ TheMoneyMythos |  May 25, 2007 at 8:27 am

    Sorry to hear about your problems! I had a similar problem, though not quite so expensive. My brakes had been squeaking for months, and finally started even grinding. By the time I went for service, they had already been damaged enough for me to need to replace the motors. A $20 brake pad change turned into a $300 service.

    If anything, it taught me to keep up with regular maintenance, especially for a car that I hope to keep for ten years.

    I also agree about the dealer thing though. It may cost more, but when I brought my car to a local job, I got charged for an inspection that was never performed, and am wondering whether they really replaced the battery or not.

  5. Tyler |  May 25, 2007 at 8:57 am

    What a joke! Never go to a “stealership.” You may think it gives you peace-of-mind but they are no better than the local shop around the corner. Plus, you got screwed over with the timing belt/water pump. They are good for 105k on Honda’s. You had plenty of time on it, but now you just have to get it done sooner if you keep the car. Good thing you didn’t get a rip-off battery from them and rotors! I can’t believe $900 for rotors!!!! They are about $30/ea at Autozone! Makes me sick. It’s no wonder car dealerships are everywhere – naive people pay these prices and make them rich!