Beep beep

A few weeks ago I realized the key fob for my Subaru was no longer causing the car to emit a beep beep when I unlocked it. The fob worked in that it still locked and unlocked the car, but the sound effect was gone. What happened?  

  
Was it a battery problem?  Did the fob even have a battery?  Perhaps it was an electrical circuit that had shorted out somewhere in the Subaru?  After all, the car is 10 years old. Stuff wears out.  

I managed without the beep beep telling me the car was locked or unlocked, but with my OCD, I did check each time to be sure the car WAS locked before I walked away. When unlocking, I was often unsure it had really done so and would push the fob button one more time for good measure. 

When I took the Subaru in this week for its regular maintenance, I mentioned the problem to my mechanic but I told him that if the cost to fix it was astronomical to just forget about it. I left the car for two days and heard nothing until I went to pick it up. 

My invoice showed the regular $78 cost for the oil/filter/etc so I asked if the fob problem was unfixable. Since my mechanic was also acting as cashier right then, he gave me this explanation:

“No, we fixed it. Works great.”

“But I don’t see a charge for it.”

“No, I’m chalking the cost up to education. None of us knew how to fix it so we went to the online database that I pay $400 a month for, typed in make and problem and got a 6-page description as to how to fix it. Now we know and I’ll charge the next person who comes in here with the problem.”

He showed me the printout and we chatted about the cost of running a car repair shop in today’s world of wired cars. No shop manuals any more. He even has one laptop devoted to the cars that come in. Each one is hooked up to the computer and the diagnostics are run on the car’s computer.  

It costs $350 to reset a car’s computer. Sort of like a reboot. A GPS replacement is $5000. My mechanic says most people are not getting the GPS replaced but just buying a new car. Same thing with the rear view cameras. Those are about $7000 to replace. So far, the only one he’s seen that quit working was still under warranty so he sent the car back to the dealer to fix. 

All the new electronics and technology on cars are making them more expensive to repair and the mechanics are constantly updating their own technology to do it. My mechanic, who runs a small 4-man shop, pays $2000 a month just on the tech stuff, like that database he used to fix my beep beep problem. So the next time you have your car serviced, remember the overhead costs just to keep the repair shop open. 

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9 responses to “Beep beep

  1. What fun to read this. Nice people,smart people everywhere.

  2. You were so lucky! And what a nice guy your repairman is. I’d go there if I lived in the area. 🙂

    • We have recommended many to Doug over the years. He has been our mechanic for over 30 years. I know he is about to retire but I hope he sells the shop to one of his mechanics who has been with him for awhile now.

  3. very good info…wow, I hope nothing breaks on my car, and lucky you.

    • Cars are made to need service! We try to keep ours serviced on a regular basis so that major repairs seldom come along. Now and then something big occurs. I had to have a seal on the gas tank replaced a year or so back. That was a big expense as it took a long time to get the thing out and a new one back in.

  4. My 2002 Hyundai Accent has almost no fancy gadgets, not even that fancy key of yours. Lol.

    • Mine doesn’t have gps or a fancy sound system. We considered buying a similar model that had heated seats, but the cost was more than I was willing to pay. I’m pretty frugal about my cars. I want power locks and air conditioning and all the safety features possible. My Subaru has lots of safety features so I feel good about hauling small grandchildren in it.

  5. You are so lucky to have such a great mechanic. When we were in Pennsylvania we noticed my son’s Camry (which used to be ours) had a bad muffler. The repair cost almost $800 for the new muffler and tail pipe. Since it had 165,000 miles on it, we figured it was par for the course. Later in the trip, the car window wouldn’t slide up again. Must have been something in the wiring. Cars can be so expensive. We really miss the mechanic we had in Illinois. Sigh…

  6. Good to know and a lesson to me not to covet a fancy new GPS and gizmo car.

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