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Linda Puts on the Brakes

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Linda is an attractive lady, late twenties, with an uncanny ability to buy one unreliable car after the other. We work on her car from time to time, often after her current boyfriend or a big chain car repair shop has "fixed" it first
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Linda arrived in her newest aquisition: a bright yellow Camaro her latest boyfriend had found for her at a local "buy here pay here" car lot. It was bright yellow and had brakes that screeched like fingernails on chalkboards.

"I'd like a price on brakes" said Linda.

"$80 for the front, $125 for the rear" I replied.

"Why is the rear more?" , Linda asked. I explained that I always replaced the rear wheel cylinders on brake jobs. That price includes resurfaceing the drums and rotors, plus repacking the front wheel bearings. too. A lot of shops charge extra for that stuff. On a car with rear disc brakes I only charge $80 for the rear brakes. I'll reuse a brake caliper if the rubber boot on it is in good shape and the caliper piston moves easily.

"Alfred Discounting Tires Plus a Lot of Other Stuff" has LIFETIME GUARANTEED BRAKE JOBS on ALL 4 WHEELS for $49.95!!! Linda, this guy's trying to rob you!!!" grunted the new boyfriend.

"We'll have to think about it." said Linda.

A couple of weeks later I saw Linda at the grocery store.

"How's the car running?" I asked.

"Oh, O.K. I guess. I sure wish we had let you do the brakes. "Alfred Discounting Tires Plus a Lot of Other Stuff" charged me almost $1000 for front and rear brakes."

"That seems a little steep! Do you have the bill with you?"
Linda had the bill for her front brake job. At the top it had

"4 WHEEL BRAKE SPECIAL: $49.95".
Below that it had
"EXTRA CHARGE FOR SEMI-METALLIC PADS AND SHOES: $50.
That's more than the pads for her car cost. Moreover, all cars made after 1980 have semi-metallic pads, so it's hard to see what kind of car could get out of there without incurring this extra charge.
In addition they had sold her
new rotors ($145 x 2 = $290)
new drums (90x2 = $180)
new bearings ($35 x 4 = $100)
new grease seals ($25)
rebuilt calipers ($125 x 2 = $250)
2 new wheel cylinders ($55 x 2 = $110)

I was amazed at this. I had inspected both of the rotors and neither one of them was scored deeply enough to warrant replacement. But whatever: when rotors are cheap and sometimes it's easier to replace them. Don't get me wrong: I make a profit off my parts, but these guys were marking stuff up 300% or more!

I asked Linda why she let them go ahead and fix it.

Linda said, "By the time I found out, they already had it apart!" They said it would be unsafe to put it back together.

That's a common ploy at a lot of shops. The law says if you refuse a repair they have to put the car back together again IF IT WOULD BE SAFE!!!

They just claim it wouldn't be safe without all the repairs and you're kind of stuck. Nobody else is going to want to take in a car someone else has disassembled. Plus a tow truck would be $100 or so. You've got to just pay whatever they want and hope they do a good job for the high price.

There's a law against "bait and switch" advertising, and a lot of these $49.95 brake shops would they'd get arrested if they were selling appliances!! I actually do a fair number of brake jobs for $80 front and $125 rear. I tell anyone who thinks they're going to get a 4 wheel brake job for $49.95 that if they actually get it for that price, bring me the reciept and I'll pay it. I've never had anyone collect.



THE FREE BRAKE JOB!!!

After considering this for awhile I said, "Gee, if I priced my work like those guys I could offer FREE BRAKE JOBS... maybe even PAY PEOPLE $49.95 to allow me to do their brakes!

I asked Linda what she thought. She said, " Oh, I don't think it would work. People know you can't get something for nothing."



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Thank you for visiting the ECONOMECHANIX WEB SITE. Please feel free to comment. We also serve the surrounding communities of Alachua, High Springs, Hawthorne, and Newberry! Gainesville has been my home since 1974, and I've loved Gvl and the Gators since I came here in the fall of 1974 to attend the University of Florida. I loved it so much I stayed and opened my car repair business. Originally it was out of the back of a 1963 Chevrolet wagon, but in 1977 a fellow mechanic and I opened an auto repair shop with actual walls, etc. I stayed in the same location for 26 years, and recently moved my operation to property I bought 15 miles east of Gainesville. I am doing most all the repairs myself now, having reduced my overhead from $1500 per month to practically nothing. I do work by appointment only. I mostly work only on my established customers cars, but I will occasionally take on new clients. E-mail me and I will either make arrangements to look at your car, or I will recommend you to someone who will.

George G. Scott, Jr.


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Auto, Car, and Truck Article List

A
ABS: Anti-Lock Brake Systems
ADVANCE: Car ignition timing
ALTERNATORS and Car Battery
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS
B
BATTERIES: Auto, Car or Truck
BELTS AND HOSES
BEARINGS
BODY AND BUMPER REPAIRS
BRAKE REPAIRS: Car or Truck
C
CARBURETORS:Car & Truck
CHECK ENGINE LIGHT
CLEANING: Engine Cleaning
CLUTCH REPAIRS: Car & Truck
COMPRESSION: Car Engine
COMPUTER CAR CONTROLS
CV JOINT OR CV AXLES
D
DISTRIBUTORS (IGNITION)
E
ENGINES: Car & Truck
ENGINE CLEANING
EXPANSION PLUGS
F
FREEZE PLUGS
FUEL AIR MIXTURE
FUEL INJECTION: Car & Truck
FUEL PUMPS: Car & Truck
G
GAGES AND "IDIOT LIGHTS"
GASKETS AND SEALS
GLASS: WINDOWS AND WINDSHIELDS
H
HEADS & HEAD GASKET
HOSES AND BELTS
I
"IDIOT LIGHTS" AND GAGES
IGNITION TIMING: Car & Truck
J
AUTO JACKS: lifting cars safely
K
L
LEAN "Car runs lean"
LIGHTS: WARNING OR "IDIOT LIGHTS"
Limp Home Mode
M
MIL Light
MANUAL TRANSMISSIONS
N
NO START: Car Won't Start
O
OIL CHANGES
OIL: What's right for your car?
OIL LIGHT ON OR GAGE LOW
P
PCV Valve
Q
R
RADIATORS: Car and Truck
RICH: Car runs rich
S
SEALS AND GASKETS
SERVICE ENGINE SOON LIGHT
SPARK PLUGS
STARTERS: Auto, Truck
T
THERMOSTATS
TIMING: IGNITION TIMING
TIMING BELT & TIMING CHAIN
TIRE REPAIR
TRANSMISSIONS: AUTOMATIC
TRANSMISSIONS: MANUAL
U
V
VACUUM ADVANCE
WARNING LIGHTS OR "IDIOT LIGHTS"
W
WATER PUMP REPAIR
WINDOWS AND WINDSHIELDS
X
Y
Z

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