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Hello all. I am resending this article that I wrote back in November of 2007. A few weeks ago, I watched some news show (20/20, Dateline etc.) and low and behold, the exact scam I wrote about years ago. I found an older video and judging by the terrible mustachs it is from the late 80's or early 90's, so you can see it has been a problem for years: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k_HaCs5HS8.
How I saved $800! So, my wife drives a Nissan Pathfinder and the other day the Brake light came on. Being the busy bee that I am, I didn't have time to look in to it. Now, if I was driving it, I probably would have let it go for a couple of days and get to it when I can. But this is the wife's car, and the wife asked me about 10 times in one day if I got it checked (no lie ;-). Being that I love my wife and the fact that I have no argument to wait on fixing brakes, I said "Yes dear." I wanted to say "Woman, I will get the car looked at when I am damn good and ready!" She probably would have looked at me, roll her eyes and pick up the phone to start dialing my mother (remember I'm Italian). So, off to the brake store I was.
Before work, I pull in to a local brake shop, let's call them BrakeBlasters, and on the window is "$99 Front Brakes, any car." Now, I know the ad is just a teaser and that it probably applies to only the "disposable cars"...you know the cars that run to 100,000 miles and then you just throw them away. I think you can even leave them on the curb for the bulk pick up on trash day. Do I have to spell it out? The Ford Escorts, Honda Civics, VW Rabbits etc. (I'm kidding Ford, Honda and Vdub fans, don't write emails please). So, I figured that I would have to spend a little more for the Pathfinder. I dropped off the car and proclaimed to the attendant, "CALL ME IF IT IS GOING TO BE MORE THAN THE $99, PLEASE!" My friend picked me up and I then went to work.
Sure enough, my cell phone rings and its BrakeBlasters. BrakeBlasters: Sir, you need to change both front and back brake pads/shoes, turn the rotors and there is a small leak from the back passenger cylinder. Me: So, what's that gonna cost? BrakeBlasters: $789.90 Me: DO NOT DO ANYTHING. TAKE MY CAR DOWN FROM THE RACK AND I WILL PICK IT UP LATER.
I arrive later that afternoon, and you guessed it, my car is still up on that rack, tires off and all. The guy behind the counter brings me in to the bay to show me the problems. He shows me the brake pads in the front. BrakeBlasters: See here, you only have about 12 to 15,000 miles left on these. Me: How many miles a year do you think I put on this thing? BrakeBlasters: The back shoes are worn as well. Me: It looks like they have more on them, then the front? BrakeBlasters: Here is the leak? Me: Where? BrakeBlasters: Here...see. It started leaking. Me: There's like 10 drops coming out of there, and it sealed itself back up because it stopped leaking. Take my car down.
So, I drive away from BrakeBlasters pissed. Now I have to do the brakes myself. Then it dawned on me. These cars have sensors for everything. There is probably a sensor for the low fluid in the reservoir. I go to AutoZone, buy a $2.98 container of brake fluid, pop the hood, release the cap, pour a thimble size amount of brake fluid in, secure the cap, start the car and the light goes off. Un-freaken-believable.
What's the moral of the story? Thank your father (or the father figure...or mother for that matter) for teaching you how an engine works, how brakes work, how the AC works, how everything works. Because, an engine is an engine, braking is braking, an alternator is an alternator, power steering is power steering, no matter what year the car is! Don't be intimidated by the big fancy machines that these shops have. Logic is Logic. A donut without a hole is danish (name the movie?) Thanks Dad for helping me not get screwed from BrakeMast....er...Blasters.