Have you ever been to one of the Dollar stores? It's a place where every product is sold for the price of $1.00. Aisles are filled with candies, crappy toys, and packs of 99 pennies. No need to ask how much something costs. It's all a dollar.
Going to my mechanic is a lot like that, except that instead of things costing one dollar, the total is always one thousand dollars. Pablo, whose car has over 250,000 miles on it and goes to the same mechanic, first noticed this phenomenon. You could bring your car in for an oil change and our mechanic will notice a few other things that need fixing. Grand total? $1000.
(Kaiser Permanente, my favorite HMO, employs a similar pricing strategy. All doctor visits are $10.00. Got some sniffles? $10.00. Need a brain transplant? $10.00.)
As I mentioned yesterday, I brought my car in because the ABS/Brake dashboard light was intermittently flashing. The mechanic spent a couple hours trying to trace down the source of the indicator lights but couldn't find anything wrong. Being resourceful billers, they identified some other maintenance issues.
"Oh, and your engine mount needs to be replaced," the mechanic's assistant informed me.
"My, uh, engine... mount?" I asked knowledgeably.
"Certainly. The mechanic took your car for a drive while investigating the brake issue, then came back and immediately said, 'That engine mount is broken!' You never noticed?"
"Oh, well, ummm, it kind of.... you know, my wife mostly drives this car."
So, they fixed the engine mounty thing, replaced some tires, did an oil change and rejiggered the jiggermafier. I spoke with the assistant this afternoon when I picked up the car.
"We completed all the work including the engine mount replacement. It drives really smooth now. You're going to be very pleased with it. Very smooth."
Although I didn't notice much of a difference in how the car drove, it might have been a little smoother than before. That's good, I guess. It's hard to put a price tag on subjective qualities like "smooth", but my mechanic did it. It's $1000.