Frosty in Phoenix

Original Link

Well, we finally did it.  The air conditioning in our car is finally fixed. It only took us a little shy of a year, and just under $3000 to do it.

Sometime last year — around August — Amy, Daniel and I flew up to Montana to visit Grandma and Grandpa. When we arrived back in Reno, we noticed that the air conditioning wasn’t blowing a whole lot of cold air. We let it sit for a couple days, thinking that maybe it just had a plugged filter or something, and finally broke down and took it in.

We’d been taking the car for all maintenance to the dealership because the car was under warranty. Because of this, anything we needed done was essentially free of charge.  Love it. This time around, we were informed that our car’s 30,000 mile warranty was expired. Sure enough, the odometer reads 30,423.  Yay.  Missed it by 423 miles. Not happy.

We do some brief calculations and determine that we can’t afford to pay to get the air conditioning fixed at this time, and since it’s August anyway, we’re coming into cooler weather, and it won’t be as big of a deal pretty soon anyway. After quite a lot of badgering from the Reno Toyota dealership telling us all the horrible, horrible things that could happen to our car if we don’t fork over what ever cash they tell us we should give them, we got our car back and went on our merry way.

Fast forward a few months to late December. We’re in the middle of a move. A move to the more temperate climate of Phoenix, AZ. In case you’re not someone who actually knows me, yes I’m joking. We pack up our house, pack up our car, and drive south.

The weather in Phoenix isn’t actually half bad in January. Not to hot, not to cold. It’s just right. Amy starts her new job, I find myself a new job, and Daniel starts in his new Daycare. All is well and good in the world. At this point, the air conditioning is still not working, and really, we don’t care all that much since the weather is pretty nice.

Cue summer. Ouch.

The temperatures start to climb into the 80s, 90s, and finally the 100s. We finally cave and decide to take the car into the dealership to get the A/C fixed. We take it to a non-dealership for cost reasons. The dealer is always more expensive is our logic. It’s been pretty sound in the past, and we doubted that it would fail us now. They take a look at our car, and tell us the same thing that the dealership in Reno told us. It’s our A/C compressor, and it needs to be replaced. Here’s where the trick comes in: They can’t do it. They tell us we need to take it to a dealer. Bummer.

We’re still fighting this dealership thing, and finally find a certified shop in Phoenix that can replace the compressor. Here’s where the next trick comes in: the part is $3400. I have to admit I just about blew a gasket when I heard that price. To top it off, that price is just for the part. Counting labor, they’re quoting us just under 5K. $4700 give or take a hundred.

I’m sorry, how badly do we need this fixed again?

So, we sit on it again. We suffer through a couple weeks of 90 to 100 degree heat until finally we’ve resorted to taking squirt bottles into the car with us to work as “misters”. It’s ghetto but it works. Kinda.

During this time, we are in communication with a dealer, and the company. The dealer tells us that sometimes, in especially rare cases, the company will cover the price of the part if the replacement is both expensive enough, and uncommon enough. In our case, the A/C compressor is actually built into the hybrid engine in our car, which is why it’s $3400 instead of $250 like most cars. Expensive?  Check. The procedure for replacement is uncommon enough that the dealers themselves had never done one. Rare?  Check.

The company agrees to pay for half the price of the part.

We’re in business here people! We take the car in, and after a day and half wait, we are informed that it’s finished. Amy picks up the car, and drops off the free rental they hooked us up with while we were waiting, and picks me up from work. Not a moment too soon either. This last week, we’ve been seeing temperatures in the 100-110 range. In case you’re bad at math, this is hot. Not at all pleasant.

After all was said and done, parts labor, taxes, and pastries, the grand total came in almost $700 less than the part was originally going to cost us. Thank you Toyota, we owe our frosty morning and evening commute to you.