Car repair is such a difficult issue for me. I feel like no matter what I do, I am doomed to be taken advantage of if my car needs repair. Even if I think I understand what needs to be fixed, I am usually wrong. Even more difficult, is trying to figure out who to listen to about car maintainence.
This weekend was the perfect example. A few months ago, my van started overheating a little. Not much and not all the time, but enough for me to notice. So, I took it into our “reliable” mechanic. Someone I trusted and thought did a good job on my vehicle when I needed something done.
They kept it for a day, told me there was an air bubble in the radiator so they “burped it” and it should be fine. They charged me $65 and did not even use the right antifreeze for my vehicle (they used WATER!). Ugh. Fast forward to February.
Now my van is overheating all the time and obviously I was reluctant to take it back to the same mechanic. Dane found a mechanic friend of his that said he would take a look at it for me and let me know what repairs it needed. The van was overheating SOOOOO bad at this point, I could not even make it 5 minutes up the road without it going into the red area of the temperature gauge.
We got within a 1/2 mile of this man’s house but could not drive it further because it started sputtering. He came out to where I was on the side of the road with my van. He opened the radiator and immediately noticed that there was NO FLUID in the thing! OMG! I felt like an idiot! The previous mechanic told me I should never open the “pressurized system” and as long as I could see the coolant in the overflow container, then it’s fine. Ummm…… yeah….. apparently bad advice because even at this point, there was still coolant in the overflow container. As soon as our friend put antifreeze into the radiator the temperature dropped and i drove it to his house.
After he looked it over, he determined that the water pump was failing. So, instead of a $800 repair (other mechanics told me I needed to replace the heater core), it is costing me $210 for a new belt, flushing the radiator, replacing the water pump and antifreeze and getting a much needed oil change.
The moral of the story is this….. if you think there is something wrong with your vehicle, there probably is. No one knows your vehicle better than you. If you get an opinion on vehicle repairs and they don’t sound right, get a second opinion. It could save you hundreds and give you peace of mind.