Magazine article Insight on the News

If It Ain't Broke ... Don't Fix It

Magazine article Insight on the News

If It Ain't Broke ... Don't Fix It

Article excerpt

When cars break down, owners do too - but even Un with no aptitude for mechanics can save money by avoiding unnecessary preventive maintenance.

Nobody likes being at the mercy of an indifferent power - yet that's the position in which most of us find ourselves when the car acts funny. Then comes that sinking feeling - a trip to the dealer for "service."

Ah, yes ... service. That wonderful process wherein a raturn noise transmogrifies into a $500 repair bill. Usually this is accompanied by a page of mechanical jargon and encoded hieroglyphics as impenetrable as Middle English.

Everyone has a horror story. One fellow I know owned a late-model Honda that wouldn't start when he turned the key one night after work. The alternator had conked out. No big deal. Undo maybe three bolts, slip a belt off, unplug a wire. Hand tools and an hours worth of labor for someone who knows what to do.

Guess how much a local shop charged@ Seven hundred smackers - $400 for the alternator, the rest was labor. When I told my friend I purchased a custom-built, high-performance transmission for less, the poor guy nearly fainted.

Or how about this. The owner of a recent-vintage General Motors product with a third brake light" ("center high mounted stop light" in industry lingo) noticed it was not working. On this particular car the third brake light uses not one, not two, but five miniature, high-intensity bulbs. Figuring all he needed to do was replace these bulbs, he moseyed over to his local dealer to buy a set.

Imagine his reaction when the guy behind the counter informed him that each bulb was going to cost him more than $15. …

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