Am I getting ripped off?


#1

I drive a 2003 Toyota Corolla. It has 105K miles on it, but runs like a champ. I took my car in for an intermediate service in April, and when it came back the air conditioning was no longer working. It seems like a huge coincidence, especially when they now want to charge me $850 to fix it. He swears anything Toyota does with the air conditioning in an intermediate service couldn’t have caused it to suddenly stop working, but it seems suspect since I’ve never had any trouble with it before. Here’s what the service manager said:
“I just left a message giving you a report on your car. It does need the air conditioning compressor and clutch. The total estimate of repairs is $850.00 plus tax and that would include: A remanufactured air conditioning compressor and clutch a receiver dryer, free-on and o rings to seal the hoses and the labor. Parts are not immediately available and it would take a couple of days to get them and since they are special order we need to have them pre-paid.”
Now, mind you when I took my car back in that same night in April, a mechanic took a check and said I did still have free-on, so besides that lie, is he totally ripping me off?
Thanks everyone!


#2

Freon is something that is normally charged for, as in the process of recovering and recharging your system some will be lost, and more than likely they will need to add some. With a basically new system, you’ll want to treat it right and put the new stuff in.

So that’s not an outright lie.

As for when the A/C failed, I don’t know. The cost sounds about right if that stuff does indeed need to be done. Your best advice would be to get it to an A/C specialist. You said “service manager” and I’m taking that to mean you were at the dealer. They’re not normally mechanics (otherwise they’d be fixing them, instead of talking to you), and they generally do their best to translate what the mechanic wrote down on the sheet, but they can…well…make stuff up when they’re not sure what it means and can’t relay it properly.

Get it to a specialist. It may only need a minor A/C service, such as a fluid top-up, or it may really need the work. Get another estimate.


#3

Time for a second opinion, wires have been accidentally knocked off from time to time.


#4

What exactly was done during this “intermediate service” last month? I am not familiar with the term.


#5

Time for a second opinion, wires have been accidentally knocked off from time to time.

And I’ve seen wires purposely knocked off from time to time. There are SOME very unscrupulous mechanics/dealers out there.


#6

Before any accusations of fraud are leveled I’d want to know the answers to a lot of questions.
The defintion of intermediate service, the location of the vehicle, exactly when the A/C was last known to be operating PROPERLY not halfway, etc, etc.

The A/C system is 9 years old with a 100k+ miles on it so it’s in prime territory for suffering normal wear and tear problems.
The fact the car had “free-on” in it last month does not mean for one second the A/C was working properly at that time. It may have even been cooling then but this is going on the end of May and temps have gone up. What cooled, sort-of, a month ago just may not cut the mustard now.


#7

Right now, at Wal-Mart, you can buy a split one ton whole house A/C unit for $350. Complete with a hermetically sealed motor/compressor, condenser and fan, receiver/dryer, evaporator with, housing and fan plus a remote control unit, connecting hoses, pre-charged with freon…

Toyota wants $850 for a compressor? Automotive air conditioning is today and always has been a cash cow…


#8

That Wal-Mart unit would look awfully funny installed on the roof of a Corolla!