If you are like MOST vehicle owners, you realize that you do have to change your vehicle fluids, rotate your tires, and according to the law, keep your car in good enough mechanical shape that it would not break down on a highway or city street (you CAN be cited breaking down….doesn’t happen frequently, but you should understand the law). AND…now and then….something happens and we have to take the vehicle in for repairs. HOPEFULLY, you are still covered by your warranty (and in a future blog, I will talk about EXTENDED WARRANTIES), but if you are not….and you are coming out of pocket with this, you do NOT have to be a gearhead, or even have the slightest knowledge of how your vehicle works, to make sure that you do not get ripped off by your dealer service, or gas station, or AA(honk honk)MCO or Gus, the corner mechanic.

First of all, when we go to a restaurant, MOST of us actually look at the check, and make sure that we were not overcharged. Why do you not do this after your vehicle repair? Well….It actually happened to Mr. Traffic YESTERDAY (1/5/12) that I had to take my truck into Ford for brakes. Now, understand that I am educated as to how a vehicle works, and have changed my oil, etc etc. religiously since I bought it in 2005. It looks like it just came off the showroom floor. But, FINALLY, my vehicle needed some brake service. It was about time, and I wanted Ford to do it as I also needed to replace a couple of bulbs in my dash that burned out, and they need to take the whole dash off to do this!!!

Long story longer, a few hours later, I arrived back at the Ford Dealer here in Hollywood, and they gave me the bill and I gasped. It was much higher than the estimate, and I went over the invoice to see why. They do NOT break down the work….just summarize the work done…..parts/labor and that’s it. I went to the service writer and said….”I NEED A BREAKDOWN OF EACH ITEM DONE”….and he looked a little dismayed, but said he will be right back. When he came back, the bill had been DOUBLE CHARGED for one set of brake shoes, and I pointed it out to him, to which he said….”Well..THAT’S not right!!…I’ll be right back….” And they took it off the invoice, saving me $200. Was this a mere human error? HELL NO. They were ripping me off and I caught them….as I have at Pep Boys, and other “reputable” dealers. YOU MUST take the time to get whoever is repairing your vehicle to explain it to YOUR satisfaction….otherwise, you will be way the poorer for it. HONEST VEHICLE REPAIR PERSON are NOT words that usually travel together in the same sentence, and it is a sad reality of our economically challenged world. So….YOU be smart……you do NOT have to be CLICK & CLACK (from NPR)….you just have to be tenacious. Otherwise, you may rip up HUNDREDS!

Defensive driving is all about knowing your limits and taking good care of your vehicle. Trust us, we know defensive driving when we see it.

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