Got word back from Autolab on my car while Courtney and I were off gaming with friends at a mini-LAN party and it didn’t really sink in what they had said until I got home at around 12:30AM. Then it kept me awake all night long until I was able to call the shop this morning and ask them to put off doing any repairs until Thursday while I checked with some other folks about the whole situation.
What kept me up all night? When they called they started the conversation with the phrase “we have a direction to start in” which is code for “we don’t have a friggin’ clue what the problem is because the $78 diagnostic we ran didn’t tell us dick, but we’re ready to poke at wires randomly.” It seems that the battery cables on my car have become twisted together and they want to replace them, but they can only buy it as a kit which involves a major harness that connects to every part in car and some minor third-world nations and they want to do this because they had a Camero in with similar problems and this was all it took to fix it and the whole thing, including labor, would only cost $509. But they don’t know for sure that this would fix my problem so it’s just a “starting” point.
In other words: We wanna charge you $509 for doing something that we’re not sure will fix the problem, but would at least remove one possibility from what will probably be a long list so be ready to hand over your entire month’s paycheck before we get through.
Now I’m certainly at the other end of the spectrum from what you would call a competent auto mechanic, but I do know a little about electricity and it just doesn’t make any damned sense to me that my car has power, will happily crank the engine like crazy without it firing, but the problem is somehow with the battery cables being twisted. If it were a damaged battery cable wouldn’t that kill all power to the vehicle?
So I called them at 8AM and told them to hold off on doing anything else until I got a few second opinions because I have no idea how the hell I’d be able to pay for the first step alone, let alone if it takes more than that. I called Anne’s Uncle Mike as he knows a thing or two about cars and it didn’t make any sense to him either and he suggested I call Anne’s Uncle Crash who’s a certified mechanic, but I won’t be able to reach him until tomorrow afternoon. I called the dealership and they also expressed skepticism at the battery cable theory and suggested that their first thought would be that it’s the fuel pump and had I changed the fuel filter lately and they’d have to check it so they suggest I bring it into a dealer, natch. At least the fuel pump sounds more plausible to me than the battery cables. The question now becomes do I pay the $78 for the diagnostic and the $70 it would probably cost to tow the vehicle to the dealer on the off-chance that the problem might be less expensive to fix or that the dealer might have a better clue on what the problem is?
This experience has completely destroyed what little faith I had in GM products. This Grand Prix isn’t even three years old yet, has 44,000 miles on it, and this is the fourth major problem it’s had that has cost me an arm and a leg to fix. I just spent $400+ back at the end of October to fix a spark plug wire that had burned through (which required the replacement of every plug and wire as it was a kit, natch). This will probably be the last GM vehicle I purchase for a long time. I think I’ll go foreign next time out.