Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Walking Old Town, And Worrying

I need to walk around Eureka more often. I used to walk around quite a bit when I first moved up here and enjoy the variety in houses. So many different designs from different mindsets.

Got my second taste in a month doing that this morning. The first time was after we'd got back from being stranded in Weott. I took my truck down to the place at 7th and B in Eureka and decided to walk home. No big deal and I did look forward to taking a closer look and what the neighborhoods look like.

A fun walk, seeing all the different houses. I'd never noticed until then just how many apartment buildings we have on the northwest side of town. Walked by one place on the corner of Cedar(?) and C Street I did something at before, but couldn't place it. I either did some work there decades ago, or visited someone.

Took another walk this morning. Had to take my truck in to get looked at. It acted up again on Sunday. I'd scheduled one of those discount oil change/ annual check up deals with Antich Automotive for today, anyway, so the timing was perfect. Again, I figured it wasn't all that far from my house so I might as well have another adventure and walk home.

Turned the truck in and told the guy of the recent problem with my Check Engine light being on (again). He said they'd check it out and had me sign the work order. I was hoping, since they would be checking my electrical system as part of the check up maybe they'd just throw in the CE light problem with that.

Nope. As I left the place I looked at the copy they gave me and it would be $138.44 more to check out the light problem. The last guy that read the trouble codes did it for free but didn't offer much in the way of advice as the truck seemed to be running ok despite the trouble code saying a spark plug was misfiring. Well, if these folks can isolate and fix the problem it might be worth it, depending on how much it costs to fix it.

I left the place around 10am walked down Second Street towards home already worrying about what the final cost would be. Other than that the fun began, although there's not a whole hell of a lot of business activity right near Antich Automotive (corner of 2nd and A streets).

I did notice the Good Relations sex store place. I was thinking of taking a quick look through there but it was closed. Then I got my first look in a long time at Imperial Place. I've always thought that a quaint little cluster of businesses. It used to house Advanced Computer Solutions but I see a knitting place there now. Anyone know what happened to ACS?

I turned up E Street and headed south, almost walking down a few more blocks just to take a closer look at the rest of Old Town, but decided to just head home. I really liked the quiet yet somewhat busy atmosphere down there. As I walked up E street, business owners would call out a greeting to someone passing by and here and there a couple folks might be chatting on the sidewalk.

That brought back to mind how it was when I worked at Sabrina's Restaurant which was a across from the Eureka Theater back in the 70s. You knew all the folks that ran the neighboring businesses and it really felt like your own little neighborhood. Nice to see that sort of thing still exists down there.

I got to the corner of 9th and E and noticed the building on the southeast corner. I painted that building shortly after I moved up here, I reminisced, although it's a different color now. It wasn't until a couple block further up the street I realized that wasn't the house I painted. The house I painted was one block over on F Street. If I'd noticed my mistake earlier I would have gone over to F Street and take a closer look at the house I did paint. As it was, I kept walking.

I love all the different houses and designs. I drive by those houses nearly every day and can't pay much attention because I'm driving. Walking lets you appreciate the uniqueness of so many of those homes. But it didn't last long. Before I knew it, there was my house and I was home.

I was surprised when I got inside and looked at the clock it had only taken me 20 minutes or so to make that trip. It seemed longer than that. I think I left the auto place at just about 10am, at least that's the time the guy that worked there told me. Yet I got home at around 10:22? Hard to believe.

So here I sit. Waiting for a phone call to tell me what's wrong and how much it will cost. Playing Aces High ate up some time but the worry in me grows. This is like waiting for the results of a cancer biopsy. No matter how much this costs, we can't really afford it and it wouldn't surprise me if it ends up an unpleasant surprise like my visit the Urgent Care back in December.

He told me it might be an hour and a half, or so, before they have everything taken care of. I'm still sitting here waiting and worrying.


At 7:19 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Looks like it's not as bad as it could have been. The guy called a bit after 4pm yesterday. He said it was the #4 sparkplug and that the cable had corroded and the sparkplug itself had carbon streaks running up the side.

Replacing all the plugs and cables, including the oil change and service will come to $560.00. Certainly more than I was hoping to pay but not as much as I was worried it might come to.

Now I'm just hoping he doesn't tell me I need new brakes within the next 500 miles.

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a warning sign. Get a Toyota. Pay now or pay later. Your truck is dying and it will reach a point where it is clearly more cost effective to buy a new truck. Don't make the mistake of waiting until you're stuck on the side of the road or into a $2300 repair bill.

These days you could buy a brand new truck and make payments of between 200 and 300 a month. No/little risk of the vehicle breaking down. Even with this "small" repair bill, you've just lost two months worth of payments on a new Toyota. Think about it...

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like a lot for what they did. I had my car tuned up and all the plugs replaced along with new plug wires and it was about $200 where I take the cars for something like that. Plugs and wires cost about the same thing every where and the difference is how much in labor cost.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Well, it was more than I'd hoped for, but I'm not surprised after having been given an estimate of almost $1000.00 to give the wife's Geo Metro a major tune up and replace the distributor.

I've also heard some horror stories with other cars, like PT Cruisers where it cost $1200.00 just to replace a fuel or water pump (forget which). They have to pull the engine out of the car to do that, thus the high cost of what used to be a fairly routine repair.

My Ford F150 had me worried as I'd just taken a close look at the engine the day before. A friend gave me some suggestions to check out the problem. I looked at the engine and it was like nothing I'd ever seen. I wouldn't have even known how to take out a spark plug, despite doing that fairly often on cars decades ago.

I wouldn't have known how to get to the rear sparkplugs as they were so far back they were almost part of the dashboard and the #4 plug that was bad happened to be one of the rear ones. The mechanic told me it was a bear to get to when I was speaking to him.

So, it started out as a "New Year Special" lube, oil and filter change for $29.99. Then they added $138.44 for diagnosing the problem- a real disappointment as I'd wrote earlier. That came to $173.09, just for starters.

That makes the labor and parts for the fix come to about $389.00, assuming the diagnostic was still a separate charge. Yep, a bit pricey.

I might have been able to shave some off of that if I'd carried out an idea I'd been thinking of. I was thinking of just having them replace the sparkplugs and wires without doing a diagnostic. That would have save me $138 and ended up with the same exact work being done. Problem was, I wanted to be as sure as I could we'd identified the real problem.

I could have also saved money on labor by taking it back to the first place I took it as they seem to be cheaper with labor. But, Antich identified the problem. The other guys didn't, so I'll let Antich fix it.

If Antich would have quoted me $800 or $1000.00 for the fix, then I would have had to try and see if the first place I took it to could under bid the job. That would have been way to much for me to pay.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if NAPA or Kragen still will do a diagnostic test for free or not. NAPA did one for me for nothing and I think I also had Kragen do one for free. For things like this I take the car to a mechanic that the day job is working for a dealer and the night job is works at his house. I guess that is why the good rate.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I don't think Kragen does. I think I called and asked after someone told me they did. I was also told that Oil Stop place on Harris in Eureka does, but I haven't had the chance to ask.

The first place I took it to, the Car- O- Practor, at 7th and B in Eureka reads them for free, but that's about it. We took the wife's car in there for an oil change deal they had and I asked the guy to check out her CE light code and he said he'd have no problem doing that for me- no charge. His scope couldn't read her car, though, so we ended up taking it to the dealer.

I took my F150 in there and he read the code as being the #4 spark plug misfiring but called me and said the truck seemed to be running fine so he couldn't find anything wrong with it. I suggested replacing that spark plug and he said he wasn't just going to replace one spark plug, which made sense to me.

That's where it kind of fell apart as I let it go at that when I should have suggested replacing all the spark plugs, but I guess I expected him to suggest the fix. Since he didn't, I figured that's as far as he wanted to go with it so I picked up the truck and went back to work, hoping maybe the problem would get worse and then be more easily identifiable.

Having seen where the #4 plug is now, I can see why he probably didn't want to go through that effort and not be charging for it. I'm still surprised he didn't flat out suggest replacing all the plugs.

Don't get me wrong. I like the guy I just thought it a bit strange he didn't look further or suggest a fix. I also found it strange, when he called me, that he hadn't cleared the code from the truck's computer.

He told me they couldn't find anything wrong. I asked him if the CE light was still on and he said it was. I asked him if he could clear it and he said he could. Then he went and cleared it.

I would have thought the first thing to do after you read the code would be to clear it and see if it went back on again. Seemed strange to me that he didn't. But, he didn't charge, so no harm done, I guess.

I felt pretty confident with Antich as they sounded like they'd figure it out from the get- go and they ended up doing exactly what I wanted. Just a bit pricey, tho.

At 3:16 PM, Anonymous skippy said...

Nice column and a good read, Fred. Sorry about the car problems and bill.

...peace, skips

At 7:59 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Thanx, Skippy.

Got the truck back yesterday after 4pm. The guy told me it would probably be around "noonish". We waited and waited, the wife wanting to go shopping. I finally called at 2pm and was told the truck was being test driven and once they returned they'd recheck everything to make sure all was well.

Final cost: $556.74. That was for oil change/service, diagnostic and replacing sparkplugs and wires. I got $5.00 off for giving them my e-mail address( Hey, sometimes they'll notify you of great offers via e-mail).

They gave me a list of things they found that might need attention. That's one of the reasons I took advantage of their service special:

Front brakes down to 3/32". Back brakes ok. I was wondering about the brakes. Probably should get new front brakes next oil change.

Front wheel bearings have play. Recommend repack wheel bearings. I'll want to do that before next SF trip, for sure, if I can afford it.

Battery failed load test. Recommend replacement. Strange, as the battery is only 2 or 3 years old. I'll hold off on that.

Yep, $556.00 a bit pricey for what was done. If they'd also repacked the bearings and put new front brakes on for that price, I'd consider it a bargain!

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some batteries have a specified life and somewhere on the battery should be a date stamped on it so you will know how old it is. Sears had to replace my battery as it didn't last. I believe it was prorated and not absolutely free. Costco has good prices on batteries and you should be able to tell what type of battery you currently have and be able to install it yourself.

Wheel bearing repack should not cost that much. If your brakes get down to nothing that can get pricey.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Wheel bearing repack should not cost that much..

That's what I thought. I watched a guy do it on TV and it seemed fairly simple and wouldn't take too long. So, I called that Car- O- Practor place at 7th & B in Eureka figuring it wouldn't cost too much if he did it. I was thinking maybe $50 to $75.00 per wheel.

He gave me an estimate of between $200 to $275, depending on the type of bearings I had and that was just for the two front wheels, I believe. Yikes!

The wife suggested calling Les Schwab. I'm not sure they do bearing repacks but I'm going to call and find out.

I checked this morning and the battery is just a couple months past three years old, having been installed in December of 2007. A little older than I thought, so it could well be losing some juice.

I think that means I bought the truck in 2001 or 2002 so it's no surprise that after 8 or 9 years it would need some work. I'm surprised the brakes didn't need to be replaced earlier, which is why I wanted all that stuff checked.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Fred said...

WOW! I just started making some phone calls to get estimates on how much different places would charge to do my brakes and pack the bearings.

The one guy this morning said between $200 and $275 just to pack the bearings. I'm wondering if he misunderstood me as that seemed awfully high.

My first call went to Les Schwab after the wife suggested it. I didn't think they did bearings and their web site said nothing about them.

I call them up and the guy says $235.00(!!!) to replace the front brakes and that INCLUDES packing the bearings. SOLD!

I asked him how far out I'd need to plan on making an appointment and he said if I came down there in the next half hour, he could have them done by the end of the day.

This is great news, and I might even have them put a new battery in with the price prorated as I bought my last battery there 3 years ago and it had a five year warranty.

About the only problem I've had with Les Schwab, is back when I had my Ford Ranger and took it in there for one thing or another, including brakes, they'd often say something else was wrong that would have to be fixed before they could fix the original problem. That cost extra, of course.

Oh, and then I took a tire in there to get a flat fixed (I'd also bought the tires from them). Same old thing. The guy said the nail in the tire also punctured the sidewall so the tire couldn't be fixed and I had to buy new tires. All those thing might well have been true. Just strange how often it's happened there.

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI. Going through some receipts for tax deductions, I found my brake job done at Sounds of Silence in Eureka at the end of 2010. Put brand new rotors on front and new brake pads and adjusted rear brakes for $160.00.


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