That old saying, “you can’t live with ’em and you can’t live without ’em” could definitely be referring to cars. The frustrating realities of car ownership are nothing new, but two of my recent care experiences were indeed new to me.
One of our cars needed a 30,000-mile service, which includes an oil change, spark plugs, a cabin filter, tire rotation, fluid top-off and inspection of a bunch of stuff. I called a dealership for a price. They said they were running a special so the service would cost $400, but if it needed spark plugs, it would cost $1100. I asked how much just a plain oil change would cost, if I did not need the full 30,000-mile service. The service adviser said $400. I called another service center, that is authorized to service my car but is not a dealer. They said $1,100. I called the national dealer headquarters to let them know their dealers were ripping people off and making stuff up. They concurred that an oil change should cost $400. I found another dealer. Their website said oil changes are $69. On the phone, their service person said $315 for the whole 30,000-mile service. I took the car to them and had the work done for $315. Apparently, those other dealerships inhabit a planet where people will spend $400 for an oil change and $1,100 for spark plugs. Insert shoulder-shrug emoji here.
We’ve all experienced navigation systems that periodically give bad directions and lead us in circles. There are stories about people literally following their navigation systems off cliffs and into bodies of water. Mine wasn’t that bad but it did lead me on a bit of a wild goose chase. My car’s built-in system was out of date. It directed me to exits that no longer exited and ignored new roads as if they didn’t exist.
The brains of my system live on a tiny SD card plugged into a slot in my glove compartment. My owners’ manual was unhelpful when I wanted to know how to update it. The internet was also unhelpful.
I called a dealer. The person I talked to advised that it would cost $300 for a new SD card and that, instead, I should buy one cheaper online. I tried but found only contradictory advice about what version I needed. I started calling websites that sold replacement SD cards. I reached a helpful guy in Boston who patiently explained my options. I sent him pictures of my old SD card and my VIN. He told me what I needed and how to find it online. I found it for $125 and ordered it. It arrived with warnings that I needed to have a dealer install it.
I called my dealer. They said I did not need to bring it in; I could just pop out the old card and install the new one myself. When I tried, I got an error message on my car’s touch screen. I emailed pictures of the error messages to the person who was helping me. Then that person dropped off the face of the earth so I started all over by calling the dealer and asking my original question: How do I update the SD card for my navigation system?
They said I had purchased the wrong SD card and could purchase the right one from them for $100, installed. Apparently, I had imagined the original person at that same dealership who said it would cost me $300 to buy one from them. So, I took them my car and they installed a $100 SD card. I returned the wrong one I had purchased online.
And then I realized what you’ve probably been thinking all along: why don’t I just use a maps app on my phone instead of my car’s built-in system? Answer: Since my new SD card still doesn’t always find the destination I need, I do usually do just that. Insert eye-roll emoji here.