OT: Car repairs

speady1

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Completely off topic, but I wanted to share this in case it may help somebody.

Since the pandemic started, my day job has turned into "work from home" and there are zero gigs, so to pass the time, I've started helping some neighbors with car repairs. I've always loved working on cars and it gives me something to do on the weekends and evenings. One of my neighbors has a 2009 VW Jetta that the power steering had failed on. ABS, check engine, and stability control lights were on in the dash. He went to the dealership and was told he needed to have the steering rack replaced. $2,300 for parts and $700 in labor.

He asked if I would take a look at it. I hooked up my scan tool and there was "no communication" to the electrical steering system (these cars don't have a pump and fluid) from the ECM. I decided to check the "easy" stuff first. Fuses were all good. I started checking the wiring harness for the rack and pinion. The ground was slightly corroded but not loose. I removed 8 screws to remove the air box and 2 bolts that held the ground wires to the body, scrubbed the ground eyelet with a wire brush, and hit it with some dielectric grease. I then reset the steering angle sensor and cleared the codes. Fixed. Working perfectly in less than 30 minutes. $3,000 bucks of pure theft, avoided.

ALWAYS get a second opinion when dealing with car repairs...
 

lrod1707

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Interesting! I have a co-worker that buys diesel Jetta's for peanuts. He told me something very similar to the repair that you mention. The owners sell them because the repair cost is to high and he takes them home and fixes them for pennies. Funny thing is that he buys them to keep them. He's got 5 so far! He says he refuses to have car payments so he's essentially collecting them to have a car with no payment forever.
 

JazzyJeff

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The keyword above is “dealership” - never go to a dealership! Find a good local mechanic that knows that being honest will earn them repeat business.
Or....find a local under-worked drummer with auto repair skills!
Good on ya! Should be worth a case of beer at least!
 

mydadisjr

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Good job on the at auto home repair! I am building wood stuff nowadays... work benches, rolling dollies for amps, etc.

I think the Automobile moral might be.... Don't buy European cars... high initial cost, stupidly expensive repairs, lousy resale value, unreliable and breakdown prone.

My Toyota Tacoma rarely needs work (just basic shocks, breaks etc), is a 4 wheelin' bad boy and has 200,000 miles on it.
 

kdgrissom

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I think the Automobile moral might be.... Don't buy European cars... high initial cost, stupidly expensive repairs, lousy resale value, unreliable and breakdown prone
These trends come and go for all cars brands of all nationalities. Finding a dependable car and an honest and reliable mechanic are the keys for automotive happiness. Most can't make the connection that a car is a machine, and a machine requires attention and maintenance. My machine is a 36 year old Mercedes W123 diesel wagon which is my dependable daily driver at 338,000 miles and shows no sign of stopping. I often wonder how many Prii (Priuses) today will still be on the road in 36 years?
 
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BennyK

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These trends come and go for all cars brands of all nationalities. Finding a dependable car and an honest and reliable mechanic are the keys for automotive happiness. Most can't make the connection that a car is a machine, and machine requires attention and maintenance. My machine is a 36 year old Mercedes W123 diesel wagon which is my dependable daily driver at 338,000 miles and shows no sign of stopping. I often wonder how many Prii (Priuses) will still be on the road in 36 years?
I assume your 36 year old Mercedes was made in Germany ? They were solidly built vechicles then .
 

ARGuy

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It's really amazing the number of YouTube videos that can show you exactly how to do a repair. The drivers side power window on my 2003 Durango slid down, and I found a video of a guy with the same vehicle and the same problem. It ended up being not that bad and I saved a lot of money.
 

kdgrissom

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I assume your 36 year old Mercedes was made in Germany ? They were solidly built vechicles then .
Yes. I guess I should have mentioned that. The w123 was the last Mercedes model designed and supervised by engineers. Every model since has had input by marketing and advertising people.
 

Tama CW

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Honest and fair mechanics are not easy to find....I started saying that in 1982. And it took me until 1993 to finally find my first one.....and only one. Though even today, labor is in the $80-$125/hr range. I switched to driving used 1997-2002 Lincoln Continentals back in 2001. Buy 'em fairly cheap with very low miles (20K-40K) then drive them until problems start showing up. On my 3rd one now....about 280K miles so far on the 3 cars. Only problem is there might not be a 4th low mileage one available next time I'm due for one about 2025-2027.
 

Rotarded

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I am a former GM Dealership Service Director (also used to Crew Chief a NASA champion BMW race team). I know the "repair game" inside and out

My sister's VW Convertible rear passenger window dropped and would not move. The dealer quoted her $2400 for a new regulator installed. I watched 30 minutes of youtube videos to find out that the regulator system is a cable driven one, notorious for failing on these cars, and also showed how to replace/modify/repair it. Yes, it is a convertible only part, but jebus!

I had her order the cable system for $110 and installed it in about 2 hours.
 

equipmentdork

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VWs are good cars, but I'm of the opinion that when they get old, they become one big electrical problem.

Currently troubleshooting a second crankshaft position sensor issue on my Honda Accord. Replaced it last November....now it's throwing the same code again.
Not cool. But, it's my mechanic's issue now.


Dan
 

TheBeachBoy

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I do as much of my own car repairs as possible, until I f**k it up and have to take it into the shop. Fortunately we've got a nice husband/wife owned repair show literally 4 minutes walk from our house. They're really nice and so far, seem pretty honest. We also found a highly-recommended guy on Nextdoor who's done some work too. I picked up an ODB scanner for under $24 to help with diagnosing issues before taking it anywhere. If nothing else, I at least have an idea of what parts/labor should be. I picked up some ramps so I can more easily do our oil changes too. I can do both cars in about 30-40 minutes for less $ than one car at a shop, and that's using synthetic vs conventional at a shop. That adds up over the lifetime of the car.
 

drawtheline55

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I guess I can chime in here, been in the car Bus for 27 yrs and currently am a partner in a small independent service facility/car dealership with a great reputation.

We flat out caught a new car dealership in a big lie, we told the customer we service the cars before the sale and this one we did all new brakes and rotors, he took it to the dealer for inspection and they told him it needed all new brakes, pads and rotors.

We immediately put it on the lift and took of the wheels and showed him 4 new shiny rotors and we still had the old parts, which we showed him, his jaw dropped.

YES find a good independent tech and stick to him like glue.
 

speady1

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I picked up an ODB scanner for under $24 to help with diagnosing issues before taking it anywhere. If nothing else, I at least have an idea of what parts/labor should be.
For what it's worth, the OBDII scanners are super cheap now and are a invaluable diagnostic tool, but most OBDII code readers will not handle bi-directional control and only show generic fault codes. The VW in question showed ZERO codes via OBDII. About a year ago I bought a $1,300 Autel scan tool that will do OEM-specific testing and some limited bi-directional controls. It saved the day on this car being able to reprogram the steering angle and read the VW specific steering codes. I think it's about $150 per year to get all the updates for over 70 manufacturers. They're expensive, but pay for themselves quickly, IMHO.
 

Rich K.

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I'm not a mechanic, but a while back the dealer told me my Infiniti needed a $1600 repair. An early internet search (before YouTube was prevalent) showed me how to fix the issue with a paper clip in 30 seconds.

The Mercedes dealer wanted to charge my wife $450 to fix something that cost me a $20 part on Amazon and a minute
 

Vistalite Black

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I assume your 36 year old Mercedes was made in Germany ? They were solidly built vechicles then .
Interesting take given that Mercedes Benz has eight factories in Germany employing nearly 28,000 workers.
 

kdgrissom

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Year ago, I was extremely fortunate to have found an "old school" Mechanic who specialized in repair rather than replacement. He was over 70 when I started with him and he owned (as in paid off) his own shop with his wife and son.
I remember I was have trouble with starting the car and I traced the problem on the internet to the glow plug relay which over time goes bad. The cost for replacement was about $100. He popped it off, took it apart and used a pencil eraser to scrub the contacts and reinstalled it for about $15. That was 10 years ago and it still works.
 

Vistalite Black

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Good job on the at auto home repair! I am building wood stuff nowadays... work benches, rolling dollies for amps, etc.

I think the Automobile moral might be.... Don't buy European cars... high initial cost, stupidly expensive repairs, lousy resale value, unreliable and breakdown prone.

My Toyota Tacoma rarely needs work (just basic shocks, breaks etc), is a 4 wheelin' bad boy and has 200,000 miles on it.
Do you have the 159-HP version?

Love my VW and had a great experience with MINI.

The cars with the highest repair and maintenance costs are a mix of European, American and Japanese:


10. Dodge Grand Caravan (Ten year cost of repairs and maintenance): $12,700
9. Mercedes Benz C63 AMG S $12,800
8. Audi A4 $12,900
7. Porsche 719 Boxster $13,700
6. Audi Allfour $13,700
5. Infiniti Q45
4. Lincoln MKS $14,600
3. BMW M4 $14,900
2. BMW 640i Grand Coupe $
1. Porsche 911 $19,600

https://www.motor1.com/features/177033/most-expensive-car-truck-maintenance/
 

BennyK

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