Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Our mobility is dependent on our wheelchair accessible van. It is not the most stylish ride in the world, but it gives Maggie and I the freedom to get out and explore the city and beyond.
We've had this car exactly five years, we got it around the 4th of July in 2008. It is a 2005 model but has very low miles, like 65,000. We are out and about all the time, but we don't go very far. Other than brakes, which we replace frequently, we really haven't had any trouble. The car has a lot of life left on it.
For the past six months, the automatic door locks on the van have not been working. I could still lock the van manually but the automatic switch in the car and on the key were no longer functional. My neighborhood mechanic, who I trust completely, said it had to go to the dealer for that. It was just not worth the trouble and inconvenience for only that so I never got around to it. Lately I've been hearing noises. I took it back to my neighborhood guy and again he told me to get it checked at the dealer because the noise was coming from the engine. Ok, time to bite the bullet.
I was going to Los Angeles on Friday and returning Saturday afternoon so it was a perfect time to leave the car. Of course they didn't even get to it until yesterday (Monday) so we were kind of stuck without the van over the weekend. Great weather meant a long walk in the park on Sunday so that was ok. Actually it was great.
Yesterday I heard from the dealer about the estimate to fix the numerous things he found wrong. I was prepared for him to give me a high bid, perhaps in the neighborhood of $2,000. Turns out I was less than half right. The estimate was in the neighborhood of $5,500, not including the new front tires that I should get immediately.
As they scraped me off the floor I heard the guy tell me that it was an old car, even though it had low miles it is wearing out. According to him it is either fix it or replace it. My head was spinning until he said, "You know ma'am this vehicle is equipped for a wheelchair and they are very expensive to replace." I responded with irritation, "yeah, I'm living the life, you don't have to explain that to me."
Everything changed when he said that. Any inclination I had to trust him evaporated right on the spot. Did he think I didn't know there was a wheelchair lift in the back of my car? Did he think I knew nothing? Did he think I was just going to fork over $5500 for repairs that I now doubt we need?
My doubt only increased when I picked up the car. He drove it to the customer area and said with concern, "you know there's also a high pitched whistle when you turn on the ignition." I smiled sweetly and told him that was the alarm telling you the wheelchair wasn't locked into place. The guy knew nothing about my car.
I drove the car home and despite all its leaks and squeaks, it runs fine. I paid about $200 for the thorough check and the computer repair of the door locks and brought her home. Today I am going back to my trusted mechanic to see how much of the findings are accurate and whether they need to be addressed with the huge fixes the dealer recommends. My bet is that it does need work, but the total will be less than half of that estimate.
Maggie and I will be back on the road before you know it.