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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    right next to the TV repairman

    Yea they used to come to your house with a suitcase of tubes from which they could swap and try to see if that fixed "the problem". If a tube was plugged in and you didn't see it start glowing, it would be easy to recognize if there was a power or ground issue with that tube socket, that's when they loaded the console up in the car and took it back to the shop. If swapping tubes didn't fix the problem, then it was typically back to the shop too.

    People caught on and they starting finding out that they could buy tubes and try to fix the sets themselves. Suddenly a large portion of the easier work disappeared, and they were only left with the more difficult stuff. With a lower number of repairs, in order to survive they had to make all of their living off of what was coming in the door and that forced the pricing on what they still did to climb, and the rest is history. Now if you have a problem with a TV, most people throw it away and buy a new one.

    The same goes for washers, driers, and just about any other appliance we have in our homes.

    and the vac and sew place

    We lost our sewing place about two years ago. We still have a Vac Shop.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    There's more to the demise of TV repair shops than what you alluded to.

    Modern day sets are so much more reliable than the old tube type sets. I have a 15+ year old 32 inch Panasonic (picture tube type) that has never given me a ounce of trouble (all solid state except for the picture tube and maybe the high voltage supply for the tube).

    Last set I had problems was with a 19 inch RCA that I bought for one of my kids when they went off to college. When it wouldn't turn on, after some basic troubleshooting and reflowing of solder joints, I tossed it. It wasn't worth paying any money to try and get it fixed.

    Also, TV sets nowadays are much cheaper, than they were 20 or 30 years ago - more so when inflation is taken into account. When you can buy a new 32" flat screen for under $200, why pay anything to try and repair one that's not working. The same cannot be said of cars.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    There is one TV "repair" shop in my community, but from what I can tell, they are far more a warranty provider for several companies that manufacture flat screens, and pretty much all they do is card-swapping in sets that are still under warranty.

    I doubt they do much repair at all on out of warranty sets, unless they fall in the ultra-expensive range. Otherwise, it doesn't pay to spend the effort to fix a broken flat screen that can be replaced for just a few hundred bucks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,420
    Oh I don't know if the TV-Car analogy is too far off---modern cars are much more reliable than old ones, and even though they aren't necessarily "cheaper" than old ones, you get a massive dose of accessories even on the entry-level cars these days--things that would have cost you extra on an older car.

    You're right, though, that cars aren't exactly "throw away" times like 5 year old TV sets, but more and more people are faced with $10,000 repair bills on $9000 cars.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Modern day sets are so much more reliable than the old tube type sets. I have a 15+ year old 32 inch Panasonic (picture tube type) that has never given me a ounce of trouble (all solid state except for the picture tube and maybe the high voltage supply for the tube).

    Every once in a while someone will call and ask if I'll still work on a tube type amplifier.

    http://www.thetubestore.com/Shop-by-Amp/Marshall-Amps

    Most of the time they have already been throwing tubes at it and they need someone who can trouble-shoot the chassis. Fixing them helps keep all the skills just a little sharper....

    Last set I had problems was with a 19 inch RCA that I bought for one of my kids when they went off to college. When it wouldn't turn on, after some basic troubleshooting and reflowing of solder joints, I tossed it. It wasn't worth paying any money to try and get it fixed.

    Yea, those were the days. I still have my screen grid convergence driver. My 25" Mitsubishi lost the flyback transformer once and developed fractured solder joints to the blue and green guns. I gotta laugh its been given away three times and each time its been used for six months to a year and then returned when the "borrower" could finally get a new set. Anyone want it? VBG

    When you can buy a new 32" flat screen for under $200, why pay anything to try and repair one that's not working. The same cannot be said of cars

    The tools that I have that helped me fix TV's came with my education in electronics that I got back in the early 80's, they cost about a grand in total back then. I spend that much every month on software updates that are essentially rented today for the cars and the rest of my tools cost me over 1/4 mil.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    trying to fix it might delay the owner on their trip anyway.

    Makes sense to me! My family just recently finished up our 12,641 mile trans-continental trip, and we ended up having an oil leak on our Subaru Forester that developed in the eastern US. It went from being a "huh; I think the oil level is dropping a little" concern to a "WHOA! WTF?!" issue over the course of about 1,000 miles. I first felt a concern about it at around 60,000 miles, and by 63,000 miles, I was having to add a half-quart every time I filled up with fuel (~300 miles), and, toward the end, that wasn't even fully recovering the oil to the level it was previously on the dipstick. All in all, I added 5 quarts of oil while we were on the trip, and I normally wouldn't add any oil at all over 12-15,000 miles.

    So, after the car started billowing smoke off the exhaust manifolds every time we paused for a traffic light or stopped at a rest area, my wife said she wasn't going back to Alaska with it like that! We endured it across the mid-west, plains, and mountains to Pendleton, OR, where we were planning to stay for four days to visit family. While there, the Subaru dealer in Pasco, WA, was able to get it in on short notice. We dropped it at 0700, they had it diagnosed by 1000, and were on the road back to Pendleton at 1500 that same afternoon!

    Turns out that an oil pump seal was failing, and pushing pressurized oil into the cavity between the pump and the block. That was causing the main seal to come unseated, which is where the bulk of the oil was actually leaking from the engine. But, in the front center like that, it was dripping all over the exhaust and, frankly, the entire bottom of the car.

    They fixed the leak, cleaned up the bottom of the car, and sent me on my way! I paid for a new timing belt since they were already in there. They claimed the old belt had cracks, but I've had Subarus long enough to know that if you have to take the belt off, it's a good time to put a new one on, so they didn't need to convince me to buy it. I was out the door for $89.95 (cost of the T-belt).

    I had a couple other minor issues that I thought about bringing up "since it was there," but I was just thrilled to not be delayed in my trip! I still had over 3,000 miles to go!

    So, to the techs and Alex, the service writer, at McCurley Subaru, YOU GUYS ARE FANTASTIC!!!!
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,013
    edited October 2013
    I gotta quit reading the Subaru Crew posts here - making me scared to hang onto my Outback any longer. And feel free to write McCurley a service review.

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  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    " more and more people are faced with a $10,000 repair bills on a $9,000 car"

    Define more and more people? Eight instead of four?

    I know you see throwaway cars in the future, but the above comment seems a real stretch shifty.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,173
    Shifty, I think of TVs, etc. in a similar way as modern cars. Overall they are much more reliable, so you have a good chance of a long life with just routine upkeep. But when something goes wrong, it can be dramatic and nearly impossible to track down and fix.

    the thought of something like a 10 YO Audi with a "brain" failure, never mind something simple like the trans or AWD gear, is terrifying.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,420
    Not at all, Jip. Engine failures pretty much total any car with a retail value of $7500 bucks or less. People just quit.

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  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,252
    The exception to the rule that engine failures total cheap cars are the tv shows where they buy an old wreck and " happen" to have a used matching motor sitting in the back room. They easily swap engines and it runs " perfect." Then they vacuum the rat crap out of the interior, paint the exterior and sell it for 30K.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    more and more people are faced with a $10,000 repair bills on a $9,000 car"

    Get an estimate to replace the transaxle, invertor and battery pack on a Toyota Prius, (or even any two of the three) for model years 2003 through 2008.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,013
    edited October 2013
    Must not fail too often; hard to find much info in a quick search. For parts, one outfit lists these prices:

    Inverter is $1,000
    Transaxle is $1,700
    Hybrid battery is $1,600 (MSRP is is $2,588 per Toyota)

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,420
    Plus tax and labor--on a 2003 Prius, that's a total.

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  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    Well, you may toss (sell) the 2003 model year due to the age and overall wear and tear. The 2008 could be a fix it up and keep on truckin type of deal.

    My 1999 Regal I traded in, almost a year ago, developed an oil leak... not sure where. Probably a $500-$1,000 repair on a car worth about $2,000 private party.
    Could have kept or repaired, and kept on driving, but the handwriting was on the wall. That's pretty much the case with all cars entering their "golden years". Seems rare to see that type of issue in "middle age" cars.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,013
    edited October 2013
    The labor estimate I saw for the battery pack swap was $900.

    Doesn't seem any worse than any other car of the era. The failure rates look good too - saw that the odds of an out of warranty battery pack failure were one in 40,000. (hybridcars.com)

    Of course hybrid tech is like fax machines. Been around forever, even if it took over 100 years for both to finally catch on. Faxes and EVs don't seem magical at all anymore.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    http://www.hybridcars.com/first-numbers-hybrid-battery-failure/

    That was from May 2008, and its not accurate.

    With more than 100,000 Honda hybrids on the road, the automaker told Newsweek that fewer than 200 had a battery fail after the warranty expired. That’s a 0.002 likelihood. Toyota says its out-of-warranty battery replacement rate is 0.003 percent—or one out of 40,000 Priuses

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1078138_toyota-hybrid-battery-replacement-co- st-guide

    •2001-2003 Toyota Prius (1st generation) - $3,649 minus $1,350 "core credit"
    •2004-2008 Toyota Prius (2nd generation) - $3,649 minus $1,350 "core credit"
    •2009-present Toyota Prius (3rd generation) - $3,939 minus $1,350 "core credit"
    •Toyota Camry Hybrid - $3,541, core credit deducted
    •Toyota Highlander Hybrid - $4,848, core credit deducted


    BTW a good choice is a repair/rebuild of the battery assembly, but just because there is a youtube video of it does not mean you or anyone else should attempt it themselves.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZygEiXw5uE
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,013
    edited October 2013
    So, around $2,600 tops for a Prius, probably cheaper if you find an outfit like this.

    What's the beef? You can easily pay twice that for a crate gasser engine. Note that your link says "the vast majority of owners will never incur the cost of a replacement unit."

    $3,500 is just 10 car payments.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,420
    We weren't talking about the repairs that didn't happen, we were talking about when the repairs DO happen to someone. You are changing the argument and misdirecting its focus IMO.

    Besides, do you really think the average car owner is going to spend hours or days hunting for the best deals, and having parts shipped to a willing shop they researched for lowest labor prices?

    No, they call a tow truck, it goes to the dealer or their usual repair shop, or to Doc, and he gets quoted fair retail---which is often a *LOT OF MONEY* on a modern car that has a catastrophic failure.

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  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,013
    edited October 2013
    Guess I'm with Jipster; just don't read about many $10,000 repair bills. Seems like the worst ones around SUVs rarely push $5,000. Do I need to skim the Fix or Trade discussion?

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