Well let me tell you about the most awesomest and funnest roller coaster ride I had this weekend! My husband took my car to get an alignment on Saturday morning and then we went to the dog park. About 30 minutes after we drop it off the guy calls. Oh no, he can't align our car. The control arms are about to break off, all four of them, he says. All four struts are leaking too, and need to be replaced. So under the guise of not taking our $49 to do an alignment which won't stay aligned, he tells us to come pick up the car because he can't do the work until he can order the parts from the dealer on Monday. "What's the estimate," we ask. "$2,200," he says. So with a grave warning that driving the car will cause even more serious damage, like the wheels flying off as we cruise down the road, we pick it up and head toward home with our heads held low. Luckily we live across the street. My husband starts doing some research and becomes increasingly more confused. The "symptoms" of these problems, shimmying and shaking at high speeds, squealing and popping from turning the wheel, all the signs we need new control arms and struts, are simply not present. None of them. It just pulls a little to the right. So something is clearly not adding up.
Yesterday we took it to another shop. Didn't say anything more than we need an alignment. We wanted them to come to the same conclusion as Mr. $2,200 all on their own. However they call us a couple hours later and tell us to come pick it up, it's aligned. BUT we may want to take the right front tire in to get balanced because it is a little off. They could do it and charge us $15, but they know the shop we bought the tires from will do it for free. So now we are in full tactical alert and race over to pick it up, bogus $2,200 alignment estimate clutched in my hand, full of confusion and questions. Long story short the guy confirms there is absolutely nothing wrong with either the control arms or struts and actually laughs when he sees the bogus estimate. To say I wanted to give him a big kiss on the cheek is an understatement.
Couldn't be happier, oh no we could not. But the trauma we were under overnight thinking we had to come up with $2,200 we just don't have was pretty profound. Ultimately I decided to look at this as a big fat lesson on how things really could be worse and found a bucket of gratitude in my heart. Even if I wanted to clobber Mr. $2,200 with a caveman's bat really bad. My husband calls me this morning singing the praises of a second opinion. I tell him a story I am sure to have relayed at some point in the 13 years we have been together, but the lesson seems timely so I repeat myself. "Did you know my mom went to the doctor and he told her she had a huge tumor on her uterus and needed a full hysterectomy at the age of 23? She didn't have the money for the surgery so she went back to her parents house and went to her family doctor, trying to figure out what to do. He told her she did not have a uterine tumor at all, she was pregnant. Voila, here I am!" Moral of the story, sometimes money problems make you reevaluate your obstacles in ways you wouldn't if the cash was no big deal. And NEVER underestimate the necessity of a second opinion, especially when the symptoms don't match the proposed cure.
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