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Monday, September 24, 2012

Saved: $1200 not spent

On a Tuesday before he was to come here, exbf said he was having transmission trouble. His car was driving sluggishly and the "check engine light" had come on or some light. So, he went to his regular mechanic and was sent to a specific transmission shop. The transmission guy attached some sort of machine under the dash. Then, he attached/used a machine to the fuses under the hood. Finally, the car was put on the rack and the guy was examining something under the car.

In the end, he told exbf to bring the car back as it would take two days to fix the transmission.  As you can imagine, exbf was worried about the expense and how to get to work since he has to drive all the way across Birmingham, from a small city on the west to a small city on the east, not an easy feat with no car. He would have to rent a car for three days, or take three unscheduled days off from work, plus having a $1200 bill to pay.

I begged him to take it to Joe's Transmission up here where I live. He has a sterling reputation in N AL. I have heard that people come from three counties away for Joe Carretti to work on transmissions. But, no, exbf has to be so independent. (one reason he is not married!) After much wrangling, he said he would just go to Joe's but had to get two other opinions, that he was NOT going to let my transmission guy choice do anything to his car, just examine it. He was not going to take my word. Since he was coming here the next day, we headed out Golf Course Rd as soon as he arrived. Joe's son, Jason, put some sort of gadget under the dash and then another under the hood. He showed me the wire from the dash that showed there was a blown fuse. He tested all the fuses and replaced one. He retested.

The car was mended. Then, exbf told Jason the story of the transmission guy in Birmingham. When Jason  heard the story of the dishonest transmission guy in another county who was not named, he was a little sore. Exbf asked what he owed. "Nothing." He expressed his pleasure at having saved us money.

I ventured that $1200 would be the cost exbf saved. Jason and exbf both agreed that was about right.

In the past I have had occasion to hear guys give each other advice about where to go for transmission work. And, these guys told us women who to trust. I file all the guys' names away, good, honest mechanics and rip-offs. Do you do this?

Exbf was very concerned about this extra, costly repair. We were both relieved that a ten-cent fuse was all the transmission he needed. Have you ever faced a potential financial catastrophe and then were relieved to find things were not so bad?

Later, Charlie told me that Auto Zone can do the same diagnostics. I don't know about that because I have never asked for that service.

If you live near N AL, a trip to Joe's Transmission might be worth the tow or drive. I would have my car towed from almost anywhere to get back to his shop if I were diagnosed with transmission problems!

Once, a mechanic told me my reverse or  third gear (memory from 25 years ago) in my transmission was about shot and I should bring it back and have him check reverse or third or something, so he could repair it for me before the whole transmission failed while I was on the interstate some dark night. Yep, that's what he said. I drove straight to Joe's. Joe himself laughed and said if third were going, I should not just have it fixed, I should have the whole transmission replaced or repaired or whatever. He drove my car and said it was fine. I knew before I went there that I would find the truth. I drove that car eight more years and never had a transmission problem.

Another bit of advice: Even if you do not need transmission work or any specific job of any kind done and men swear a guy is the best and most honest around, write it down. Do not trust yourself to remember it. Consequently, I am aware of the best workmen in town. I don't go for the one who is cheapest.( When I was in school and people were complaining about a professor, I made a note in the back of my notebook. I did the same for the ones who were praised. I did check out the preferences later, but it sure saved me grief.)

Oh, yes, exbf was greatly relieved that he did not have to spend money!

Your turn
Do you keep up with the best auto mechanics. plumbers, and electricians, sewing machine repair guys? Or, do you search for one when you need one? Or, do you just go to the one with the shiniest tools and best personality?  Did you share this with the guy in your life who takes care of these things?...well, unless you are a guy? If you are a woman alone like me, will you keep a list of people you trust? Anyone want Joe's Transmission's phone number?


  1. We had to search around at first, but thirty years of living here we've scouted out the good ones.

  2. Joanne,
    It is amazing how many people have lived here longer than that, and they still go to a friend's place or a cheap place. I have lived here since 1975, and natives to the county still don't know about him! I wonder. Good for you for scouting out the good ones.

  3. "Have you ever faced a potential financial catastrophe and then were relieved to find things were not so bad?"

    YES! After my parents passed away my husband's long trusted tax guy told us that we owed MANY THOUSANDS of dollars of taxes on money that I had inherited. I knew this was wrong! and refused to accept it or sign the tax return (and write the big check) We ended up saving a lot of money!

  4. Janet,
    It is good to be stubborn and question sometimes. I hope the "long-trusted" guy was abandoned after that.

  5. That's very smart advice listening to other people's opinions and writing them down for future reference. You sure were on the ball.

    Here's my story of a dishonest mechanic: My friend needed work on his car and took it to a newly set up guy down the road. At the pre-arranged time my friend returned for his repaired car and was handed the invoice.

    When he got home, my friend decided to hoist his car to look at the new mechanic's work and see if he was any good. To his surprise and disappointment, the work had not been done. My friend immediately telephoned the mechanic to let him know the work hadn't been done and got an earful of swearing and yelling before he hung up on the guy. Huh... makes you wonder what goes on in some people's heads.

  6. Sue,
    I certainly hope your friend got a refund or something! That's an awful way to start a new business. I think some mechanics spot "victims" to cheat. Obviously, your friend knew more than the mechanic thought he did. Good!

    My girlfrind went to Atlanta. On the way, she said she had to have something replaced and asked a guy she was dating to give her $200. I told a friend of mine that I thought this was a ploy to get money. He raised the hood of her car, and whatever she had replaced was not shiny and new, still grimy and bolts never touched. Her car was in my drive and she was gone.

    I always look at the part replaced or repaired to see if the part is new or if the bolts/latches/wires are old or new.

    Thanks for that story.


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