Car Woes

December 13, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Please forgive my rant. Car trouble ranks number two on my most-loathed-hassles list. (Number one: frustratingly unexplainable computer problems). I thought buying a brand new car would save me from these sorts of hassles for awhile. But I won’t fret too much. This tale has a relatively happy ending.

As you’ve read before, I’ve been dealing with a leak in my car door. It was something I noticed last winter – some of Liam’s stuff sitting under the seat was wet, and I figured he’d just spilled some water on it. It wasn’t until the summer that I really noticed the carpet was all wet near the door after a big rain. The only reason I noticed was because we’d moved Liam’s car seat to that side, and I was constantly picking up toys and cheerios from the floorboards. By the time I got around to having it checked out at the dealer, my warranty had just expired. And they wanted $120 just to diagnose the problem! That sounded steep, so I thought I’d take it to a shop instead.

So, here’s something to tick on the “cons” side of owning just one car. When you have to get it fixed, you’re stuck waiting for it at the shop. Unless you’re lucky enough, like us, to live right by the Metro. So I did some research and found a reputable place near a Metro stop in Takoma Park. We took the car in for an estimate, and they very helpfully suggested we talk to Honda about making an exception on the warranty. Sounded like a great idea.

Except, five phone calls and three weeks of playing phone tag later, and all I could get from them was that I had to get the problem diagnosed at the dealer for $120, and then they MAY consider covering it. The shop in Takoma quoted me less than $200, so I decided to take my chances with them instead.

Not a good call, it turns out. I had to take it in twice (which entailed rushing out the door early to get there as they opened, walking back to the Metro a mile in the freezing cold, and making four trips out there because they had to order parts), shell out $300, and two months later my door is still leaking. I came back a third time, working myself up to demand they fix it for free. But they very politely suggested I take it to the dealer or take it to a body shop, because the problem is likely related to the welding of the door or the panel, which they can’t fix. Someone stronger-willed would probably have demanded their money back for all the parts and labor these guys put into NOT fixing the door. But I suck at confrontation, and I don’t think these guys were trying to pull one over on me. They were endorsed by Car Talk. That should count for something, right?

So, this morning I drove right over to the dealer in Bethesda (right by the train, yay!), explained the problem, then took the train home to wait for their diagnosis. They said they’d call Honda to see what they could do about my warranty. I was dreading the worst: paying $120 for the water test, plus another thousand or so for a new door. But they called me back this afternoon to basically say, “My bad.” Turns out there was some panel improperly fastened when I bought the thing, so regardless of my expired warranty, they’re fixing it at no charge. Apparently it’s been leaking since day one, but I only noticed it recently. I mean, who was going to notice that? You could only tell if you put your hands down on the carpet on the floor after a big rainstorm. Sheesh!

So amid much aggravation and phone tag and wasted time and money, in the end it’s not as bad as I’d feared. But it certainly could have been better. If there’s a lesson here, I’m not sure what it is. I always thought the dealer was the LAST place you go for basic repairs. But whatever. Aside from this and a rather aggressive curb check requiring a little body work, My lil’ Fit has done me well. Let’s hope she continues that way.



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  1. I’m glad it worked out!

  2. So glad it’s fixed! I hate car troubles too. I totally didn’t think about how frustrating it would be to only have 1 car which is having car troubles. LOL. perspective! And with Liam in tow too…oy vey!

    We always take our car to the Wheaton Firestone (although not a body shop) on Georgia and have felt to get fair deals out of them. And one of the reasons we use them is because they are off a C bus line that Royce can use to shuttle himself back and forth.

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