Posted by: justnaturallyme | August 20, 2009

Why Chrysler went bust!

Ever wonder why Chrysler was in so much financial trouble that they had to declare bankruptcy? I just had my Jeep repaired at a dealership in Brandon, Florida near Tampa and understand why people had lost faith in Chrysler products.

This was an emergency or I would not have taken the car to a dealer. My last dealer experience with a Chrysler dealer in Palatka had made me wary. That time I had a steering pump problem. For those of you like me who know very little about mechanics, when power steering goes out it has to be one of three items: a hose, the tank or the pump itself. I had already had the tank replaced just a few weeks before so that eliminated one possible culprit. The dealership made me go through a diagnostic test so they could determine the problem. (I already knew it was the pump or the hose) They ended up replacing all three items including the new tank. Cost me $1,300.

So you can understand why I was leery this time.  But here we are sitting in Rustin, Florida researching a book that was already way behind schedule. So when the Jeep refused to start and responded to a jump from the friendly maintenance men at Little Harbor Resort with just a small ticking noise, we knew the starter must have been a goner.

So faced with having to get towed somewhere for repairs and not knowing any mechanic in the area we went with the dealership. Bad choice!

Oh, they were courteous and polite. Then they took several hours before they got the car in and checked it our.  When they called back the news was what I expected about the starter.  They also said one battery terminal was cracked and needed replacing. The estimate was shocking, over $900 but I had no choice. I needed my car back. We were paying $35 per day for a rental car. Plus Chrysler had told me if I didn’t have the work done there I was going to have to pay a diagnostic charge of over $130 dollars and my roadside assistance would not have paid to tow it elsewhere.

When I got the Jeep back and looked at the itemized repair statement, I really felt taken. Not only were the labor charges exorbitant, but the actual items were highly inflated.  It was only when I got chance to check out what a starter should have cost that I was really furious.

As you can see on the statement and warranty I posted here, the starter I got was a re-manufactured one with a three-year warranty. I paid $318.33. I priced one that would fit my car at a well known car parts store. A new one with a limited lifetime warranty sells for $129.40. Chry7sler’s charge was well more than double. And remember I got a re=manufactured one for that inflated price.

The terminal they bought cost $3.50 compared with $1.89 online. Again, I didn’t really shop the price for comparison, just checked a reputable auto parts place.  That leaves only two possibilities regarding the prices Chrysler charges; either they are very poor comparison shoppers or they just gouge their victims/customers unmercifully.

Now the labor is interesting. I can’t argue with the labor to put on a starter as I couldn’t do that job but I surely could and have put on new battery terminals. You just take off the old one, peel back insulation, cut off any corroded wire and stick the wires through the place between the two bolts that hold the wire and tighten it. Then just push it onto the battery post and tighten the little bolt. No big deal. I have done it on the road with just a pair of pliers in the past. The dealership charged a whopping $161 labor.  Boy, was Jessie James in the wrong business?

Note another interesting charge on the statement: Shop Supplies $69.95. What in blue blazes are shop supplies? A few rags to wipe the mechanics hands? Some Go-Jo to clean hands? I could have bought them a few Martha Steward towels and some imported perfumed soap for that price. And why should a customer pay for shop supplies anyway?  That is not my concern. I really don’t care if they wipe their hands on their coveralls.  Just think what old Jessie could have done with a shop supplies charge. Can’t you just see him charging the railroads for bags he needed to carry the loot away from the robbery?  He would have charged the banks he robbed for the saddle and bridle for the getaway horse.

So much as I love my Jeep, when it comes time to replace it do you think I am going to consider a Chrysler vehicle?  Yeah, I’ll consider a Chrysler just as much as Jessie James would have considered contributing to the Pinkerton’s retirement fund.



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