New steering system and alignment

Typical of anything I do mechanically, it takes way more time to accomplish than it should. When my uncle (my mechanical adviser) tells me that a project will take a certain number of hours, I usually triple it and get close to a good guess on the amount of time it will take me. I was told that to replace my steering linkage in my Suburban would take about 4 hours. My estimate of 12 was pretty close. It may have taken me a bit longer than that.

I pulled it mostly apart on Monday. There was some time lost due to trying to find a couple of specialty tools I needed. I got the tie rods and relay rod removed. I tried to get the pitman arm and the steering idler arm to come off, but they needed another day to be convince they were going to come off. Finally on Tuesday morning I was able to get those removed with a little persuasion from a bigger hammer and lever.

I took the parts that I needed to replace with me to the parts store. With new pitman arm, tie rods (inner and outer) and steering idler arm in hand I was ready to start the installation. I got it all back together by late Tuesday evening. I even took the time to fix (I hope) a brake squealing problem I have been having while I was at it.

I was not quite satisfied that my quick alignment job was good enough to take it to the alignment shop this morning. I did a few more measurements and determined that I was quite a bit off with the passenger side. I took a few more minutes to straighten it out before going to the shop.

At the shop I was told that it would take an hour to clean up my mess. I stepped across the street to a store to waste a bit of time. I also took a book to help me out. Having spent about 45 minutes there, I wandered down to a convenience store to get a drink and do some more reading. I returned to the tire shop and they were still working on it.

Thinking it would be just a few minutes longer, I sat down in the lobby. As far as I could tell someone was working on my truck the whole time I was there. The management staff was coming and going in the lobby and I would have expected them to tell me if it was going to be much longer. Nothing was said, so I just enjoyed my book and read the newspaper. After an hour more of waiting I asked if it was going to be much longer. The man went and checked and told me it would be about 20 minutes more. “Any problems?” I asked. I was informed that because it was not a compact car, it would take more than the standard hour.  Didn’t they know when I brought it in that it was not a compact car? Is it possible to confuse a Suburban with a Jetta?

It ended up taking 2.5 hours for them to do the alignment. There were no problems, it just takes longer on that type of suspension I was told. Then why did they tell me it was going to take an hour? I would not have minded that it would take 2+ hours if I had known up front. I could have gone home and done something productive. I voiced my concerns to the man who originally took my work request. He asked me if I was going to be late for something because of it. I told him it did not matter. The point was they took two and a half times longer to do the job than what they told me.

When I took the truck in last week to have them look it over and tell me what needed to be replaced, they gave me a price of $16 for the alignment. Then when I dropped it off this morning the price was $17. No big deal, I was not going to argue over $1. When I picked it up the price was $23. Huh? When they told me the price this morning (along with the statement that it would take an hour) they did not know that the vehicle would be so difficult. What idiot at an alignment shop can’t tell that a Chevrolet truck is not a Nissan compact?

One of the workers asked me to fill out a complaint form. He said that a manager would call me.

I remember in the back of my mind that a little over a year ago I took something (I think it was to have a flat fixed) to this same shop. They told me the job would take 2 hours because of being busy. That was fine, I had plenty of time. It took almost 5 hours which then made me late for an appointment. I remember complaining heavily at the time for the stupidity of not being able to do a simple job in the time alloted. Of course, I did not remember any of this until I was standing there this morning stewing over the delay.

I knew when I started this project that it would take me, an amateur without good tools, three times longer to do a job than a real mechanic would take. But when the real mechanics tell you it will take an hour, then it should take about that amount of time. I told them I was more upset that when I returned at the alloted time that they did not inform me then that I would be waiting at least an hour longer.

Just another example of how people don’t look out for the customer. When I find a place that puts me (the customer) first, I will frequent that establishment.

One thought on “New steering system and alignment”

  1. $23 bucks for an alignment? WOW.

    I hear you on the whole customer service thing. I even go out of my way when there is a place that has great service. I’ve actually really liked to frequent Starbucks when I want a dessert of some sort because they always give good customer support AND their products are very consistent.

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