Jul. 1st, 2007

tiedyedave: (Default)
I took my lovely Windstar (which I have begun to refer to as Little Red, a shortened form of The Little Red Wagon) to Groovy Auto on Friday. My complaints: the ignition was crapping out, and the rear brakes would emit a high-pitched hum whenever I first braked after backing out. Furthermore, the parking brake light was constantly coming on, which indicated low brake fluid. Not wanting to be too cavalier about a potential brake fault, and knowing that the van hadn't seen brake maintenance in about 20k miles, I took it in.

On Saturday morning, I got a call from one of the mechanics at Groovy. He had to ask my permission to do some more thorough repairs than expected: apparently one of the rear drums was rusted on, so they'd have to pry it loose by force in order to replace it, and they also wanted to see how far the rust went. I said ok, go ahead.

Fun chemistry experiment:

1) Your parents drive a car around the northeast for six years, initiating widespread rusting of all components exposed to road salt, especially those components not easily reached by an undercarriage wash.
2) You receive this car and drive it around central Texas, where increased heat and moderate humidity accelerate metal corrosion.
3) You get a mechanic to look at the brakes after a year.

(NB: I tried to make this into a dick in a box joke, but I couldn't make it flow smoothly enough).

Apparently the entire rear brake assembly was made of rust. There were springs that had become solid immobile chunks of ferric oxide. One of the assembly components had cracked and was slowly leaking brake fluid (hence the dashboard light). They had to replace all of the rear brake components. Fortunately the front brakes were mostly unscathed, and simply needed new pads and rotors, though that's not cheap maintenance either.

Parts and labor for the other miscellaneous maintenance (new battery, an engine coolant replacement I should have done at 75k) only came to $200. Front brakes were $300. Rear brakes were $600.


From a broader perspective, this is definitely better than dying in an accident due to brake failure. Also I have enough money "saved" to cover maintenance this expensive, and given the history of the vehicle there really wasn't much I could have done to prevent something from eventually being eaten by rust. But it's still a lot of money.

At least it wasn't the transmission.

Depsite the circumstances and the high price tag, I was pretty happy with the Groovy Auto people. I consulted with my dad on the cost, and he declared it to be pretty reasonable, given his experience with vehicle maintenance, including past maintenance on this one.


tiedyedave: (Default)

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