From the ****ing Hell department

I drive a car that is six years old. It has an about-average mileage on the clock. We bought it eleven months ago and, since then, it has done 19,000 miles. Two weeks ago, an emissions warning light began to glow on the dashboard. A quick flick through the handbook indicated that this was an item that needed referring to a garage – a quick couple of calls to local garages (not Renault dealers) indicated that this was a problem for a Renault dealer as they have the diagnostic kit needed.

A general prod around the car also showed that a drive shaft boot needed to be replaced. So, this morning, I dropped the car at our nearest Renault dealer and asked them to service the car and give a quote for the work needed to remedy these faults.

They called me back a little while ago. They’ve identified the emissions fault (oxygen sensor) and also found two problems with the power-assisted steering (leaking pump and switch). The total bill for this work is a substantial four-figure sum and equates to 50% of the price that we paid for the car. After I’d fallen off my chair, I said I’d call them back. As you can imagine, Hels wasn’t too impressed either.

My brother is a bit of a dab-hand with cars. I asked his opinion. Apparently, the entire drive shaft shouldn’t be more than about £80 to £100. The sensor should be about the same and take only 20 minutes to fit. All-in-all, he reckons that the Renault bods think they are on to a good thing and his advice was “get it out of there and take it somewhere else”.

I’ve got to pay for the service and the work done, but otherwise I’m going to take it to the garage that my father normally uses, a garage that comes recommended with the phrase “he won’t rip you off – he tells it like it is, but he won’t rip you off”. I don’t think the same can be said of the Renault dealer.

UPDATE: I’ve just done some research. I can find a drive shaft for £105 (quoted price: £494); the oxygen sensor goes for around £50 (quoted price: £241). I haven’t found prices for the power-assisted steering components, but on this form I would expect them to be closer to £125 than the quoted price of £513. If I can’t get this work done considerably cheaper elsewhere, I’ll eat the car.

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