Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Car Trouble

I drive a 2009 Toyota Corolla and no, it did not take on a life of its own and try killing me and all the other drivers on the road. In fact, I thought I had lucked out with the whole Toyota scare until I received a phone call two weeks ago. Apparently, yes, my car was being recalled and I had to take it in to my Toyota dealership right away. I bought my car at Marina Del Rey Toyota and they were very helpful, so I wasn't expecting any bumps in the road when I dropped my car off on a Friday afternoon to get my floormats and accelerator pads fixed and installed. Four hours later, the guy who was in charge of my car came to me with bad news: my front brakes were shot and I needed them fixed right away....and it would cost me around 300 dollars. I, at the time, did not have 300 dollars. In fact, I'd like to think that at any given time in my life, even when I am making more money, I don't have to spend 300 dollars on brakes. My car is only 2 years old and has about 20,000 miles on it. When I informed the nice gentleman at the dealership that I did not have the money to get my brakes fixed right away, he told me they could possibly lower the price to 240 dollars. Again, this didn't help. Finally, after I began asking leading questions about my brakes, it came up that the brake pads were to be replaced, but that my rotars were shot and that I'd be lucky to make it the five miles back to my home. Given no other choice, I took my car with its new and improved accelerator pads and floor mats, said a Hail Mary and made it home just fine, not hearing any scraping metal when I stepped on the brakes.

My next step to remedy my car problems was to now find a garage, not the dealership, to give me two things: 1) a free quote and 2) fix my brake pads for less than 200 dollars. I called around to local garages in my area. The Auto store in Playa Del Rey quoted me 185 for the brake pads and 47 dollars to take a look at it (which would be included in the 185 if I chose to go with them). I then called two garages on Lincoln Blvd. one at a 76 station, who quoted me 200-220 dollars and then another who quoted me 140 dollars. These were all referrals from my friends who had business at these garages. I finally called one more place, Culver City Motors (that was also a place recommended by a friend) that was on Washington Blvd and the guy was very honest with me over the phone and told me he'd take a look at the car for free and that the brake pads shouldn't run me over 130 dollars.

So, yesterday I finally went to get my car fixed. When I arrived I saw that the garage was full of Mercedes and I thought I was at the wrong place. When I called my friend who recommended the place to me, he said that I WAS at the wrong place. A small sense of panic ran over me for two reasons: 1) I was now going into this garage cold, with no reviews from any of my friends and 2) I had already dropped off the car and the guy was about to give me a free quote. Yet, I quickly calmed down because I knew if the quote was too high, I could just take the car somewhere else, although I knew the more I kept driving on it, the more likely I could ruin the rotars. So then came the moment of truth. I needed new front brake pads, for 127 dollars, and my rotars were fine (but if I had kept driving a few more miles, I would have been scraping metal). The guys at the garage were really nice and honest. They did the job for half the price that Toyota quoted me. Although I went to this garage cold, I am happy to report that it turned out in my benefit. My reason for this blog post  is to let other people know who live in West L.A. and need a car fixed that Culver City Motors was great for me and if you feel overwhelmed with a really bad car problem, don't worry. It all works out in the end.

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