Wednesday, June 13, 2007

DIY Auto Repair Cautionary Tale

Several years ago, I got really tired of the Firestone's of the world charing $300 for plugs and wires. The same job on my driveway costs about $80 plus an hour of my time, and that's how it is with a lot of auto repair jobs. With a Hayne's repair manual and your helpful AutoZone employee's advice, you can do a lot of jobs that might have cost a lot more at a repair shop. However, every once in a while, lack of knowledge can bite you.

I've replaced the serpentine belt on my truck twice in its 10 year life. Both times, I struggled a bit with it mainly because I have only two arms. This time, though, I lost an epic, 2 hour battle. Sadly, I'm not clueful enough to question until I've completely lost my patience. After doing a little research, I discovered that the part numbers on the belts include their size. The one on my truck? 97.6" My new belt from AutoZone? 97.0" That may not seem like much, but for me it was 90 minutes, cuts, bruises, and all manner of unsavory behavior from a lost temper.

Come to find out, the problem was AutoZone's computer system. 3-4 years ago, I bought my 97.6" belt from the same store, but it doesn't appear that belt is made anymore. Apparently whenever they stopped making that belt or when AutoZone changed its computer system (not sure which), it went into the system wrong. It should have gone in as 97.5".

So anyway, if something's not working on your DIY auto repair, step back for a minute and verify that you have the right part. The computers aren't always right.


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