I started writing about my van repairs back in July of this year and never finished it. So, I’ll pretend it’s July and finish writing the post with a current update at the end.
I guess when you have a 20-year-old vehicle, you should expect things to happen. Recently, after a long cold winter, I’ve noticed several issues. It breaks my heart a little, but no need to get sentimental. Either I’m going to fix it or I’m not. I choose to fix it unless the cost of the van repairs is more than what I paid for the vehicle.
Here’s a list of MoCa’s (my van) ailments:
- The air conditioner isn’t working. Not just freon, but the actual unit not blowing.
- Steering wheel fluid leaks especially when the vehicle is in reverse.
- There’s an exhaust leak which causes the sensors to trip.
- I don’t know if it’s a tune-up or not, but it’s missing and hesitant at times. My 1999 Chevy Express isn’t idling nicely.
- It’s leaking oil
These are not minor issues. I’ve owned the van for two years and I knew it would require attention, but am I ready for this? Well…if I’m going to keep it, I’d better be ready for this. So off to the mechanic she goes!
Mechanic Shop #1’s Diagnosis
I took her to my local mechanic (we’ll call it Shop #1) and he said the following:
- Air conditioning compressor is shot (under warranty) and it needs freon.
- The line for the steering wheel is old and cracked thus the leak of the fluid.
- The two exhaust sensors need replacing
- The oil pain was dripping
- They couldn’t get the vehicle to hesitate when test driving it (I thought that was odd, but he’s the expert).
Now the problems begin. First of all, the mechanic kept my van for almost 3 weeks! He was short-staffed and then the parts didn’t come in and then another problem and then another problem. I got annoyed and told them I’ll have my car flat bedded to another mechanic if he could not do what needs to be done. It’s amazing how miraculously all the parts came in and the mechanics became available.
The one problem they had, however, was the removal of the exhaust sensors. Because of the age of the vehicle, apparently the sensors were locked (for want of a better word) in place. In attempting to remove them they stripped it and required new exhaust pipes. That “problem” cost $1,100!
I told them to leave it as is and I’ll take it elsewhere. Unfortunately, they got one of the two sensors out and couldn’t put it pack in. That hole in the exhaust would make the van sound loud when I drove it. Grrr. So, they fixed that problem and that cost me a ton of money.
Van Repairs – Mechanic # 2
While my car was at mechanic shop #1, I called mechanic shop #2. I wish I had known about shop #2 before I went to shop #1. Shop #2 gave me sound advice and tried to help me out while my van was being held hostage at shop #1. Unfortunately, as shop# 2 advised, I should give shop #1 24 hours to make things right. If not, bring the van to shop #2, but then the clock would start all over again.
He would have to perform the diagnostic and order probably the same parts. Since it’s already been 2 weeks, I was looking at adding more time to the repair, not to mention the cost of the tow from shop #1 to Shop #2. So I allowed #1 to finish the job.
Once I got my van back from shop #1, I drove straight to shop #2. He looked it over and said it needed a tune-up. He performed the tuneup and now my vehicle is running as it should. I’m now a loyal customer of shop #2.
Both mechanic shops told me that the van is in good shape and that if I continue to do the oil changes and keep up with the maintenance, I should be able to put another 200,000 miles on it (the odometer just made it to 150,000). As such, I’d rather keep my 1999 Chevy Express than go into debt and purchase another vehicle. Yes, this last bill was a hefty one, but I couldn’t buy a new van for that amount.
Next: Keeping the rain out