Car is fixed!

August 25, 2005

Toyota_logoMelody Toyota called me today and told me that my car was fixed (a day early!) and the total charge was only $450. Not bad for a new transmission and clutch (true, the tranny was covered by warranty, but a clutch job alone usually costs more than that).

I asked them to save my old clutch and took a look at it. The mechanic agreed that it wasn’t too badly worn for having 45k miles on it. They probably could have put the old one back in, but since they were already in there, I figure why not get it fixed up all nice.

Now the clutch is super smooth and my steering seems a little bit tighter (not sure why that is…). The horrible noise is gone and things seem to be working pretty well.

I’d recommend Melody Toyota in San Bruno. They seemed pretty reasonable and were willing to work with me on bringing the price of my repairs down. I chatted with the mechanic a little bit and he was really nice about explaining what he found and what he recommended I do. They gave me the rental car for free for 4 days, courteously answered my barrage of questions, and even finished early. Either they are really nice, or they are really good at pretending to be nice. Either way, I’m currently a satisfied customer.

Toyota CamryFor the past few days, I’ve been driving around a Camry as a loaner car and I must say, if I was looking for a nice budget family car, the Camry would be a strong contender. At $20k, it’s a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for. The Camry was smooth – road noise was minimal, acceleration was weak but consistent, handling wasn’t as bad as I assumed it was going to be, and steering was decent. Cavernous trunk space and good interior room round out the car and make it quite a good overall package for its target market.

In contrast, when traveling I often will rent a car from Avis and they usually have a GM fleet. So I’m quite familiar with Grand Ams, Aleros, Malibus, Impalas, and Monte Carlos. Most of these vehicles are available for less than $15k – especially after the special deals and employee pricing – but clearly reflect their bargain basement prices. The interior build quality is usually poor, all these vehicles aren’t too moderate on the gas, the handling is weak, the driving feel is non-existent, and the steering is loose and imprecise. I’m hopeful the new generation of American cars will address these issues. After all, they are kind of at a do-or-die point now with GM and Ford getting downgraded to junk status by major banks and losses steadily rising.

Just now, I noticed that Toyota has discontinued the Celica… eh, whatevers. Bring back the Supra to replace it 🙂

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