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Location: Hamilton Square, New Jersey, United States

Tax guy, host & producer of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast, former co-host of the Wall Street Journal E-Report

Thursday, February 01, 2007

So much for my warm & fuzzy

There's a reason I take my Toyota Highlander in to a Toyota dealership to get oil changes done. First of all, I like the feeling knowing that Toyota "experts" are working on my car. Second, have you seen the usual staff at your local Jiffy Lube? Do you really want THEM touching your car?

So I get my oil changed Tuesday over at Lawrence Toyota and after about a half hour, they call me over and tell me that my radiator's cracked. They bring me into the garage and show me that coolant had gotten all over the radiator and that it needed to be replaced. I asked how something like that could happen and they reply it's more than likely the weather. So I get the estimate for about $450 and call my wife who, fortunately, works at an auto body shop. Good news, they can get the radiator for about $180, plus labor.

So my wife takes the car in on Thursday and this is what they find out. When they put the new radiator in, they noticed that the hose attached to it was corroded, thus causing the leaking of the fluid. The old radiator? No sign of a crack. We said, the hell with it, they already put in the new radiator, so there was no sense taking it out again.

So basically, the "experts" at Lawrence Toyota told me I had a cracked radiator, when in reality it was simply a corroded hose. Of course, we didn't find this out until AFTER a new radiator was ordered and installed. Luckily, I had an "in" who was able to get this whole thing done cheap.

And my wife pointed out one more thing...if I *did* take this to Toyota to get the work done there, they more than likely wouldn't have said anything about the radiator and would have also charged me to replace the hose as well.

I plan to head over there on Monday and bitch royally about this. To me, this is a serious disappointment, especially considering what the dealer's supposed to represent in regards to repairing a car. They're usually the last hope to fix serious problems. Here, I couldn't even trust them with a SIMPLE problem.


Anonymous Darren R. Sussman said...

Not to defend the Toyota guys, but it's possible that they didn't realize that there wasn't a crack, and that they saw coolant leaking out and so not seeing the immediate cause of it, they said it was a crack in the radiator. Now, it would have been far more responsible of them to look a little more closely, true, but these guys have to look at a lot of cars during the course of the day, and so sometimes they may not be as thorough as we'd like.

Still, you should complain about it. The real tellin gpart will be what they do about your complaint. I can understand an honest mistake, but then they should make good on that mistake. (Not sure exactly how they'll do this since you had the work done elsewhere, but hey, the ball is in their court now...)

2/02/2007 8:32 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

My doctor sees a lot of patients too, but I expect him to give me a correct diagnosis when I go in. Can you imagine going in for a flu shot and then being incorrectly told that you need your pancreas out?

2/02/2007 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Darren R. Sussman said...

I'm not really sure you can compare the two. First of all, yes, on occassion, doctor's misdiagnose their patients. But more importantly is that doctor's have to study for a LONG time before they're allowed to diagnose their patients. I don't think the same level of training is required to be an auto-mechanic.

2/02/2007 1:09 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

No, but the concept of what they do is the same. Mechanics require much less training because a car is nowhere near as complicated than the human body but they're still placed in a position to diagnose what's wrong with your car and fix it. And, to my understanding, people employed at car dealerships would have more training in that particular brand of car than a person at your average fix-it shop.

That's why I'm so disappointed. I expected more out of them.

2/02/2007 1:21 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

One more thing too. These guys are 0-2 now on repairs for me. They had done a regular maintenance for me a couple of years ago (35,000 miles or something) and changed the air filter in my car. A couple of days later, the "check engine" light came on. I took it to a different place to investigate the alarm and they found out that the hoses were reattached incorrectly. I took it back to Lawrence Toyota to undo the least they didn't charge me labor.

So for two very minor procedures, they screwed up. Thank God that this car's been rock solid otherwise.

2/02/2007 2:10 PM  
Blogger jimbuff said...

That's what you get for buying a foreign car - Remember you should always buy local - Canadian cars are always built the best!!!

2/02/2007 5:16 PM  
Blogger jimbuff said...

Sorry, I forgot that you were also foreign. No harm intended.
Drive across the boarder and buy a well built Canadian car!!!

2/02/2007 5:18 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Canada makes cars? Are wood and beer involved somehow? :)

2/03/2007 7:03 AM  
Blogger jimbuff said...

Wood cars fueled by beer and back bacon:)
It's the cool things like this we can invent b/c we have nobody making weapons. You guys keep protecting us and we'll keep coming up with the cool stuff.

2/03/2007 7:21 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

mmmmmm...back bacon...

2/03/2007 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Darren R. Sussman said...

Ah ha...well, then, Doob, it sounds like the problem is that the technicians at Lawrence Toyota are a bunch of idiots. Maybe you need to go to a different Toyota dealer?

Also, a bacon fueled car would be awesome. I would occasionally eat my way to an empty tank, though....

2/03/2007 12:29 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Better a tank that runs on bacon, than on beer.

2/03/2007 4:42 PM  
Blogger jimbuff said...

I wouldn't mind wasting your American beer for fuel but there is a problem with that: not enough alcohol in it to burn.
Canadian beer is to good to waste - oh well, back bacon it is!

2/04/2007 8:18 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

You ain't kidding me, I...hey, wait a minute...weren't you spotted with Bud Lights not too long ago?

2/04/2007 8:39 AM  
Blogger jimbuff said...


A little info. for you that you probably didn't know:
USA imports Canadian beer and sells it. Canadian Brewers buy the rights to American beer and brew it independantly themselves. USA imported beer would never sell here. So when you see me with bud lite it is not Amercian brewed by Budweiser. It is actually brewed in Canada by Labatt's and has Canadian alcohol content and tastes nothing like the American swill version that you have down there.

Bud Lite in Canada is not a bad beer. Not my beer of choice but I really don't mind it.

Just thought you might want to know. I'm sure that most Americans probably think that we Canadians import your beer but in reality we just use the name and brew and improve on your beer ourselves.

2/04/2007 5:54 PM  
Blogger L said...

Sorry abt your episode! We have given up on TOYOTA for servicing! Apologies, I am not mechanical abt cars but here's our story:

Had our camry over for tune up at 90K, they called in 30 min - claiming we had to change the battery brackets, etc - total $1.5K. Decided against it, needed a 2nd opinion, so told them to only do the tune-up, a damage of $400+.

Took the car to a friend's mechanic (self-ownership shop), said no need to change the brackets and "the other stuff" were not damaged! But he did say that we need to flush the engine-something, which shd hv been done in the tune-up done only 2 days ago! We paid for it $100+.

Called the Toyota dealer to complain abt it, they refused to admit it abt the bad workmanship and the whole bitchy episode!


2/08/2007 1:42 PM  
Blogger TreeBob said...

The Canadian Bacon car also has a slick birch bark finish.

2/08/2007 10:33 PM  
Blogger sirpage said...

I recently took me Toyota Camry in for servicing because it was running a check engine lite. They (Lawrence Toyota) ran diagnostics and informed me that I had ro repalce the manifold,catalytic converter, spark plugs ECM and Fuel injectors for a cost of $3000. I took the vehicle to another machanic, he informed me that he couldn't find anything wrong. He did remove the battery terminal which reset the ECM and changed my plugs for a grand total of $65.00 I haven't experienced any problems since..

5/31/2008 12:36 AM  

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