Saturday, March 23, 2013

What works- Automotive

We've had our share of issues with used cars over the last few years.  This led us to purchase an extended warranty on the car before this one, as our transmission died on the one before that!  It was quite an added expense, but it was our first used car and we didn't want to take any more chances.  Sooner than later, we had electrical issues and lock issues that the warranty covered.  We also had some issues that the warranty did not cover; $1000 of uncovered expenses that were not only downright inconvenient, but threatened to leave us on the roadside.  This brought us to our next purchase. Though we were hesitant to spend that kind of money again and not use it, the thought of something really big going bust was enough to convince us to do it.  Some of my family thought we were ripped off, but I'll tell you what happened next.  Within a year, our transmission went unexpectedly, again.  It went into the shop, and the warranty covered a 'reconditioned' transmission and a rental until it was repaired.  This took 2 weeks longer than expected, but we loved having an almost new van (and less miles added our old van) while we waited.  After, we were very grateful to have the van back and repaired for free, but that wasn't the end of the story.  I never got home from picking up the van before the engine light went on again. I brought it back and they couldn't figure out what was wrong.  They made some adjustments, and again the light came back on a few days later.  This time, they found shavings in the pan, which anyone will tell you is NOT good.  They made us see the dealership this time.  The dealership got us another rental and kept our van for many weeks after this.  Come to find out, they went through 3 more 'reconditioned' transmissions with the same result.  Finally, they bit the bullet and gave us a brand new transmission!  The extended warranty was paid for almost 5 times over when it was all said and done, and we have a practically new van under the hood that may actually last us beyond the last payment this time.

Rainex works wonders on your windows, but do not get it on anything else!  It leaked in my car and ended up eating through the box and the plastic bag it was kept in. 

Drygas is cheap and works fabulous for hard New England winters and keeping the engine humming.  Follow the directions for use.

Hang a plastic shopping bag on one of the arm rests between the front seats by one handle.  An easy access garbage comes in handy.

Make friends with a mechanic.  Find someone either related to you, related to someone you know, or a mechanic who values the business of someone you know.  The relationship ties will make it easier to find an honest technician who will advise you when you can put off repairs, find a cheaper option, or tell you the cold, hard facts.

AAA coverage is worth the money, even if you use it once.  One tow or unlock service will pay for itself.   Like the warranty, the peace of mind is also worth the money. Knowing if you get stranded somewhere- and it's never when you expect it- that someone can bail you out, without having to go through everyone on your contact list. With this membership comes lots of other perks as well, like free battery tests, discounts everywhere, and student coverage for free their first year.

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