For the record, I don’t play the lottery. I consider it a tax on people who can’t do math. But I still managed to kind of win a sort of lottery today. Let me explain.
My daily driver is a 2003 Toyota Tundra. Compared to Mrs. P’s 1997 4Runner, it’s a relative youngster, but at 190,000 miles, my truck has a bit more road time than her car. We tend to keep vehicles for a long time, unlike my parents, who seem to show up with a new vehicle every couple of years.
Anyway, I took my truck to the local Toyota dealer today for some recall notices I had received. I only go to the “stealership” for recalls and to buy OEM parts – I pretty much do all my own service. But the recall was for the passenger side airbag, and as fun as it sounds to play with pyrotechnic charges, I figured I’d let them take care of it.
When I went to pick up the truck, the service manager had a surprise for me. Turns out there was a second recall, for frame corrosion. They inspected my frame and found perforation in one of the brackets. “OK,” I said. “What’s the repair for that?” I figured they’d weld a patch on the hole and put some corrosion preventative on it. Nope. The service manager floored me with, “Oh, we just replace your frame!” It took a second for me to process that, and I had to ask him to make sure I had heard that right, but I had. Literally the first part of the truck that was built, and the first item put on the assembly line, needs to be replaced. He showed me a 2007 Tacoma in the garage getting the same treatment, and sure as hell, the truck was entirely disassembled – cab up on one lift, bed on the other, engine and transmission hanging from a hoist, rear axle across the shop, and a brand new frame on jacks getting all the pieces put back on it.
I was stunned. I couldn’t even begin to think what it would cost to have that service done – he told me it would be five to seven days in the shop. So maybe 50 hours of wrench time at like $200 an hour – $10,000 in labor alone! And a new frame has to run close to $8,000 I’d guess. Somewhere around $20,000 would seem a safe guess. And I’m getting it for free.
Oh, sure, they’ll try like hell to upsell me – he started today, with the “You might as well think about anything you want done that would be easier with the truck apart.” And I might even bite – the parking brake cable has always been slack and a right pain to adjust, so I might have them do that, and new shocks might not be a bad idea. Then again, the thrill of walking out of the shop with an essentially new vehicle – they’re even replacing the brake lines! – without spending a dime is hard to resist. Hell, I even get a loaner while it’s in the shop, even if it’s just a Corolla.
I rarely come up holding anything other than the gooey end of the stick in my financial dealings, but I guess this time I got lucky.