Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Grand Rounds, and Car Shock

This week's Grand Rounds has been posted over at Clinical Cases and Images. Thanks to Ves for including me, and thanks to GruntDoc for choosing my post as his "must read" item of this issue!

And in the world of non-human medicine, Fiona Ford went to the garage today.

We like to name our cars; we figure it's good for their morale. Our first car, a venerable used Honda Accord, was named Holly. Holly broke down in one way or another roughly every week and a half. During the three or four years we had her, I think I replaced everything except the engine and the transmission. My mechanics kept saying, "But the car's a Honda! What can be wrong with it?"

Answer: Almost everything.

So we finally traded Holly in for a Ford Escort, christened Fiona. Fiona Ford has been much healthier than Holly Honda ever was, undoubtedly in part because she's a 1999 car rather than an 1981 car. But we just paid her off, so of course she's now developing interesting problems.

I posted about the "service engine soon" light that came on during our trip to San Francisco. Today I took Fiona in to have that checked out. We were all hoping that maybe it was a loose gas cap or something.

But nooooo. It turns out that Fiona needs a new Transmission Fluid Temperature sensor. The TFT sensor is an expensive part, and it's hard to reach; the entire transmission has to be removed for it to be accessible. My mechanic handed me a transmission diagram that looks like the schematic for the space shuttle.

I need some other little things done too: flushes, new filters, like that. Upshot: On Saturday, Fiona will be spending at least five hours at the garage, and Gary and I will have to fork over $800-$900. That doesn't include today's $100 diagnostic charge.

And you thought human medicine was expensive! (Don't even get me started on vet bills.)

I don't think my garage is fleecing me, but if they were, I'd have no way to tell. I have to trust them. And the bottom line is that $1,000 in garage fees is still a lot cheaper than buying a new car.



  1. Sometimes when charges are made for diagnostic tests they are then deducted if you get the repair work done with that garage rather than going looking for a cheaper price.

    The prices on transmission removal sound reasonable.

    Oh well! What you quoted is cheaper than a new car. And I liked my Ford Tempo. Drove it for years. They can make all the jokes they want about Fords, they run and aren't anywhere near as expensive as Toyotas to repair. I like them too. (g)


  2. Hi, Lee! I'm definitely going to that garage, but they didn't say anything about deducting the diagnostic fees.

    The Ford's fine -- better than the Honda was, certainly! -- but it wouldn't have been our first-choice car. The Ford was what we could afford; if we'd been able to pay more, we'd have gotten a Subaru.

    I'm really hoping that my next car will be a Prius. My sister has one and loves it, and she has the GPS feature that will talk to you and give you directions. That would be really handy, since Gary's poor eyesight means that he's not a very good navigator. He can remind me of directions that I've written out, but he can't see signs in time for me to respond to them, and maps tend to be a challenge, too.


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