Repair shop surprise

Thursday, March 21

I wake up well before dawn.  Since I don’t own an alarm clock, last night I set my mental clock to wake myself up at 6:45 in order to have time for coffee and breakfast before driving into Wickenburg.  I have an 8 o’clock appointment to have brake work done on the Perfect Tow Vehicle.

Back in Borrego Springs, California, several weeks ago, when the PTV was in a shop for an oil change, I was told I should see about new brake pads in about a thousand miles, that they only had about 30%-40% left.

After lying in bed half asleep, I decide to check my phone clock.

It reads 6: 23.  Good.  I have plenty of time.  I reheat the pot of coffee I made yesterday.  Bridget and Spike are still asleep . . . Bridget because she’s always a morning sleepyhead and Spike because he doesn’t hear me bumping around.

I fix a cup of coffee and boot up the laptop.

I glance at the time in the lower right-hand corner of the monitor.  It reads 7:39!  “Ackkk!!”

Darn, which is right?  The phone or the laptop?  Oh well, there might not be time to figure it out online.  We’d better get going in case it really is 7:39.  

“Good morning, little babies.  Time to get up.”

It turns out the phone clock was right. 

So we arrive at Craig Motor Craft an hour early.  A lady is mopping the office.  (I later learn she manages the office and her name is Linda.)  I put Bridget and Spike in their black suits and take them for a walk up the sidewalk, annoyed with myself for leaving my camera at home.

I do feel good about getting the brake pads replaced.  The PTV will be all set to take us up and down mountains. The crew is ecstatic to be taken on a leash-walk again.  They feel special walking on a sidewalk on-leash.  Spike marks all around the block and Bridget tugs this way and that.  It’s another beautiful morning in Arizona.

I expect the brakes to take at least two hours.

I’m prepared for the wait.  My kindle is in my purse.  I sit in the PTV and read until the shop opens, and then the crew and I go inside. Linda makes up the ticket and I sit down to resume reading.  Bridget and Spike take their cue and lie down on the tile floor.

This is gonna’ cost a chunk of money but it has to be done.  I hope they don’t try to snowball it into a job bigger than it really is.  The book occupies my mind.  Time passes.

Linda interrupts my reading with great news.

“You don’t need front brake pads.  The mechanic says they’re fine.  He’s checking the rear  ones now.”  I’m very surprised.

I go back to my reading.  Time passes.

The mechanic walks into the waiting area.

“Your rear brake pads are fine.  You don’t need new pads.”

“What?  I don’t?  Gee, at the last oil change I was told to get new pads in about a thousand miles.”  Then I add, “I tow a trailer with that van all over the place . . . mountains . . . I want good brakes.”

The mechanic shakes his head. 

“You can probably go another 20,000 miles on those pads, as long as you don’t ride the brakes, and it looks like you don’t do that.”

Linda chimes in. 

“We don’t want to do work for you that you don’t need.”

The bill for checking the brakes is $70 which I pay happily.  The mechanic asks me if there’s anything else I need.  I hesitate.  He says, “I’ll go check your belts and hoses.”

When he comes back he tells me the hoses are fine.  I have only one belt and it’s good, too.

“You mean the infamous serpentine belt?”

“Yeah,” he replies smiling.  “You don’t want that to break.”  He repeats that the belt looks good.

As I pull out of the parking lot, I’m amazed.  What was that one thousand mile warning all about?  Gee, this is great!  I’ve got peace of mind and it only cost me seventy dollars.  Of course it wouldn’t have cost me anything at all if I hadn’t been told . . .  Oh well, water under the bridge.

Up the road I pass a thrift store.

I zip around in a U-turn.  A short while later I’m walking out of the thrift store with a DVD of “Pirates of the Caribbean” that cost two dollars.

Back in the PTV, I look at my phone clock which I’ve learned to trust.  It’s 10:40.  I realize the crew and I never had breakfast.  I’m hungry, but smiling, as I turn the wheel for home.


FYI:  Craig Motor Craft, 12 South Tegner Street, Wickenburg, AZ, a family business since 1966, services cars, trucks, and RVs.  Phone: (928) 415-0527


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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65 Responses to Repair shop surprise

  1. Elizabeth says:

    That is good news. Sounds like that was an honest shop…unfortunately not all are. Sorry you had to spend the $70…but maybe if you return to have the brakes done later and remind them of your story…maybe they will give you a bit of a break too!!

  2. Pat says:

    I love a honest mechanic!!!!!!! Great news about the breaks. If you ever need work done while in the Yuma area, I know a very good shop.

    Pat, Tucson

  3. Barb says:

    YAY!!!! Great news of a good mechanic! Whoot Whoot!

  4. CT says:

    Hi Sue,
    Glad to hear that your repair experience turned out better than expected. I made up for the cost you didn’t incur, as I just picked up my car from the repair shop earlier today & my wallet is $1500 lighter. 😦 What started as a little rattle in the engine a few days ago turned into a big job!
    Hope you continue to have good “car”ma! 🙂

  5. Old Fat Man says:

    Actually Sue you did a very good thing. For the places we run around in we need to get verification our gear is in good shape. I do the same basic thing every two years and I know what things should be like. However a second set of eyes that are in practice is good insurance in my opinion.

  6. Mick > TN says:

    There is a major difference in brake wear from city to country driving. What is 1000 miles in stop and go California freeway driving could very well be 20,000 in Arizona back roads. That being said … the person in CA probably hoped you would say “change them now”. Be sure to keep a list of honest mechanics; great info for your blog.

  7. Kay says:

    Ahh, that is AWESOME news!!! Congrats on your next 20K miles of adventures. In case you haven’t yet seen a moose…. they pretty much run the town of Estes Park CO. Should you decide to explore the area, you will not be disappointed in the wildlife up there. I certainly would not recommend a visit before July as it can get pretty nippy up there. The moose wander around the town with the tourist and of course caution is your best friend. Many folks take their canines along for visits to the town as well.

  8. Julia says:

    Don’t ya just love shops like that ? I do!! Still even though you didn’t need brake pads you now know you don’t need them and the peace of mind is wonderful.
    Happy Trails !

  9. Jean &Skip says:

    So nice to hear about an honest shop, usually it’s the bad ones we hear about.

  10. Cathie L says:

    I am trying to figure out how the shop that changed your oil would know you needed new brake drums without pulling off the tires. Did you have the tires rotated? You might look on UTube for a brake pad “show” that would let you see what good brake pads and bad brake pads look like and ask to be shown the next time. We ladies need to know these things. Just a thought.

  11. Lisa says:

    Yay! How lovely! 🙂

  12. Just another Bob says:

    Now you can take Bridget and Spike out for a night on the town and a visit to the doggie diner 🙂 Woof Woof!

  13. DesertHawk says:

    Differences in the cell phone time & the laptop, may have been because in AZ it is still mountain standard time & all the other mountain time states are now in Mountain Daylight Savings Time.

    Laptop may have made the Spring forward for Daylight Savings, but since you are in AZ…it shouldn’t have. In New Mexico it would have been 7:39 am….6:39 in AZ. Just like California, even though CA is in Pacific Daylight Savings time. MST vs MDT.

    Cell Phones seem to change fairly quickly after crossing Time Zone & seem to do the ST & DT well.

    My GPS stays on New Mexico time settings, when crossing time zones. Can’t remember what my laptop does when we go to AZ.

    In Las Cruces.

  14. gingerda says:

    I’m glad it worked out so good for you and you didn’t need new brake pads. I recently had my oil changed and they told me I needed a radiator flush. Funny thing is, I just had it done, along with new radiator hoses 3 months ago. Hmmm.

  15. katydid says:

    From very naughty cows to good hearted mechanics, you just don’t know what life has in store for you next. It’s all an adventure.

  16. Rita from Phoenix says:

    No hair cut while in town (not that your hair doesn’t look is)? I took my dog Chowder to a small neighborhood carnival once…he was mesmerized by the ferris wheel going round and round. Dogs prance when they go to town or someplace special…I notice that with Chowder & Ralphie. I’m sure Spike and Bridget are no different…dogs love attention. Good for you that you went to an honest garage. I’ve been to a few not so honest…i.e. was told I needed transmission tune up however my truck is a stick shift or I needed a new A/C compressor & my son found a loose wire. I learned to get a second opinion before I have the work done or I do research on line first. I found lots of step-by -step do-it-yourself utubes online…if it’s simple I do the work or I have my son do the work. Flowers should start to bloom if they haven’t already…my sapling trees are in bloom as well as the cactus plants. I love to drive to Canyon Lake when the flowers bloom. Have another fabulous day tomorrow.

  17. AZ Jim says:

    I told you some time ago about the time in Cheyenne when I was pulling my rig up a long hill and suddenly looked back and saw dreaded smoke. Long story short, took the Jeep to a Transmission shop and in my mind I was already sick at what it would cost me only to have the guy come out after test running it and having it up on their rack for a 1/2 hour and told me it was just fluid that came out the filler tube and hit the exhaust manifold. How much did he charge me? Not one dime. Honest mechanic. There are still some around. Quit pickin’ on my future steaks!!! *smile*

  18. Karen says:

    Not long ago I had a dead battery while doing errands just after most of the auto repair shops closed. I was able to reach a Les Schwab store and they came and jump started my truck for NO CHARGE. You can be sure that the next time that I bought tires I went to the local Les Schwab store and retold the story. I was happy to give them my business!!

  19. cinandjules (NY) says:

    Your cell phone will always display the correct time. It is sent by a GPS satellite. When I fly to the west coast…the time automatically changes to PST. The time on your laptop can be accidentally changed without you knowing.

    Good news regarding your brakes. Again my guess was….Jake wanted you to say go ahead and change them now. Don’t forget there are metal indicators on the brake pads that will let you know (squealing sound) when it is time to replace the brake shoes.

    I would be a bit hesitant to return to that other shop for an oil change. Oil change was $20 but if they suggest work you don’t need that’s $$ for them. Actually I can see you under the PTV changing your own oil! All you need is the right size oil filter wrench and a socket for the drain plug.

    What a good day…more money for your savings instead of monthly expenses and a movie to boot…popcorn over the fire and you’re set.

    • Nancy (Idaho) says:

      Be careful of that assumption. Cell phones work off of the cell tower, not the phone–you may not be in the same time zone as the tower; that has happened to me when on the border of the time zones.

      • cinandjules (NY) says:

        Good info Nancy………

        Well then….if your phone has service depending on your location….there is an alarm clock feature under “tools and settings”.

  20. dawnkinster says:

    Great story! And I think the peace of mind was worth the $70.

  21. EMjay says:

    I learned a long time ago that northern AZ garages are not all the same. Because it’s on a well-traveled highway that runs a loooong way (CA, AZ, NM, etc), some shops take advantage of the travelers. SOME shops…not all. But finding a reliable one, well, that’ s the trick, eh?

  22. Page says:

    I read this post out loud to my husband, He is a 30 year ASE Master mechanic. He works in an independent shop. He said he sees this all the time. People come in, worried because someone at the oil change shop or the big box shop told them they need more work soon, if not right then. He always notates how many miles are left on brakes, tires, etc and teaches his customers what to watch for. So glad you found an honest shop.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Page . . . Another reader, Isle, (below) says the $70 charge is too high. You may not see this, but I’ll ask anyway…. Does your husband think the charge for inspection of brakes is fair?

      • Old Fat Man says:

        Sue, If it is done right each wheel is removed and the brake shoes, brake lines, rotors and everything else including wheel bearings is checked. I would guess that a proper going over would take an hour and a half to two hours depending on the vehicle. That is competitive pricing for the shop time in my opinion. Not a bargain nor a rip off just competitive.

        • Page says:

          Sue, I’m not sure what hourly rate my husband’s shop charges (he’s an employee, not the owner) but a standard one hour charge would apply in your case. And, as the OFM says, the mechanic checked out more than just your brakes. The pricing is very competitive.

    • Sue says:

      Page I am wondering if it has to do with the eletronic cips in cars now? Does your husband know about those? I know it tells when the engine needs work or an oil change. Do they tell the michanic about breaks too? If so could be the Ca guy was going by the info from the chip. Maybe it was not reset at the last change.

  23. rvsueandcrew says:

    I added the name, address, and phone number of Craig Motor Craft at the end of the post in case you travel through this part of Arizona.

    Interesting comments from everyone!

  24. Sherry says:

    Hi Sue, I love that you stumbled onto such an honest shop and do wonder why you were told you had about 1000 miles which sure isn’t much before they needed replacing. Do you think that other shop was hoping you’d say “go ahead and do it” and they’d get your $$$?

    On a totally other subject, I’m looking on your site for what you are using as your internet source. I’m here in Florida and nothing in the entire state is THAT far away from an interstate and yet I am constantly having internet troubles while you have 5 bars. I see the info on the antenna but am wondering do you have an air card/mifi/ Verizon/AT&T/ booster/ amplifier?? Whatever you have, I want to look into it since your internet in the middle of the desert is WAY better than mine here in the middle of LOTS of people.

    Many thanks,

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Sherry,

      I don’t have a booster or amplifier. I have Verizon mifi 4G LTE connected to my Wilson Antenna (see header “Internet Antenna” for schematic and info on antenna).

      • Sherry says:

        Thanks so much Sue. I’ll look into the Mifi. I have a Samsung hotspot and I have terrible internet problems even in the midst of what feels like suburbia outside the state park. SIGH…………….

    • Linda Sand says:

      Sometimes a signal is better in the desert because there are not as many people competing for it. In my winter home park in Arizona I can sure tell when the weekenders are here. And forget doing any updates during the Big Tent RV Show in Quartzsite, Arizona, in January.

  25. A little math…..if 30% to 40% lasts 1000 miles, then 100% only lasts about 3000 miles. I have never needed breaks more often than every 50,000 miles or more. Unlikely! Also, it shouldn’t have cost $70 to check your breaks. $70 in small town AZ gets you one hour of mechanic’s time and checking the breaks, even if he took off all 4 wheels to look at them closely, should not have been more than 15 minutes to a half hour max.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      My first reaction to your math is . . . it’s correct. However, I wonder if the life of brake pads is a constant arithmetical decline or do they wear at an increased rate once they have been worn thin. I also wonder if it is advised to drive around with only 5% – 20% of brake pad. I don’t know very much about this subject, so your point may be well taken. I’m curious what other readers have to say about this.

      I also would like to hear from readers if they feel the $70 charge is reasonable.

      Thanks for bringing up these points, Isle.

  26. cinandjules (NY) says:

    Wear on the brakes depends on your driving. City driving vs highway driving affects the wear just like a clutch. Some people drive “two footed” which wears the brakes down faster. Listen for the squealing noise…that is the indicator that it’s almost time to have them changed.

    I believe most repair shops charge labor by the hour. In Calee it was $95. Some shops charge by the “inspection” preformed. Look on your receipt to see if it was a labor charge or specific inspection. To check the brakes they have to remove the tires. So that may have taken some time.

    Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog) has been indicted for perjury regarding his inaccurate prediction that spring is coming. A no bail warrant has been issued………..authorities are unable to locate him! 🙂

    Have a marvelous day……………………………………………………….we’re shoveling.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      An APB on Punxwhatever Phil! Too funny!

      Appreciate the information on brakes and repair shops. This was a specific inspection.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Your comment on different braking habits reminded me of something Linda at the repair shop said. She used to drive a bus and her bus would go 5 years between brake pads. The other drivers (male) would wear theirs out in 6 months. (Guys, don’t get mad at me… I’m quoting here!)

      • Old Fat Man says:

        My Truck is at 218000 miles on the original brake pads and not even close to needing replacement yet. The brake shoe/pad does not change wear rate because of the thickness. My Truck tows an average of 9000+ miles a year. Yes it is fine to drive around on any amount of brake pad remaining. However the thinnest section of the pad sets when the pads need replacement. It is like a weakest link in a chain. If a small spot shows need for replacement then the whole pad set needs replacing. I would do both wheels in the set. Usually on our towing vehicle the front set is first to go, but in a well balanced rig like yours front and rear coluld be really close to wearing out at the same time.

        • Sherry says:

          218,000 miles on the original brake pads sounds like a world record. You must be the king of down shifting or never stop. Well done!

    • Donna (stickhouse in CT) says:

      Phil can’t be found because he is probably already in someone’s stew. We all have had enough of this snow and cold here in the northeast.

      • cinandjules (NY) says:

        Hah hah…..Punxsutawney stew. Didn’t know this was a death penalty violation.
        152 inches so far here in the Adirondacks.

        • Donna D. (stickhouse in CT) says:

          We didn’t have nearly as much in CT as in the Adirondacks. But, that’s what you get when you live in the high mountains! We’ve had about 30 inches in my part of CT.. It’s just that it has stuck around for so long and they are expecting more through next week! ARGH!

  27. Chuck says:

    Sue, I my humble opinion, the charge was fair. Our shop here in T or C (Terrys Tire and Auto) is an honest shop and we’re lucky that the one we have back on the panhandle in FL is also. They are sometimes hard to find and ours were rec by locals. Ruff, ruff to the crew from the boyz. Chuck

  28. I think a separate list of good trades persons would be a great addition to the blog. Easier to keep track of than in the text of the story. Just a suggestion from a disorganized reader.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Great idea, Hugh. Fortunately I’m rarely in a repair shop so my list would be very short.

      Right now my focus is writing this blog, removing spam, reading and answering comments, researching and keeping the shopping pages updated with new products, putting together the monthly financial pages, and planning where the crew and I will go next.

      I appreciate suggestions on how to improve my blog and ways I can help readers. Thanks.

  29. It is a great thing to find those honest repair shops. Also a great thing to post about them. I wish there were an Angie’s List for RV’ers, so many of the folks who are supposed to be in the repair business either don’t know what they are doing or don’t care.

    • Linda Sand says:

      There is. It’s called RV Service Reviews and data is sent in by people who use various facilities. You can check it out at I hope Sue adds her review of this shop to the list. I already put it on my personal list.

  30. Karen (Minnesota) says:

    These are the best kind of surprises. I love an honest businessman (or businesswoman). Now you have peace of mind that all is okay and you can travel on with no worries. Yay! I wish all were this honest.

  31. Susan in Dallas says:

    Two dollar great DVD – SCORE!

    • Donna D. (stickhouse in CT) says:

      Any of the Pirates of the Caribbean are worth watching more than once. At least I think so. Love those movies.

  32. Timber n' me says:

    Yaahooo Sue, it’s great finding an honest mechcanic, glad you saved the dullar’s and now you and the crew can watch some funny pirate’s, Areeeh, swab them decks sailer er ya git th’ plank,,,,,,,,Say howdy to them pups

  33. Sunny says:

    Glad for your good news on your brakes! Is it a thing with female dogd that they want to pull on their leashes while the males just want to leave their scent everywhere? Izzy drives me bonkers when she does that constant pulling. Good deal on the P of C movie. I have the whole series now. Another great Johnny Depp movie you might enjoy is “Benny and Joon”. Its hilarious in a good way. My daughter got a copy for me, I think from Amazon.
    I am on my way back east 😦 in the great “burr” country of TX now. Hate those little burrs…..

    • Timber n' me says:

      Be care full, Sunny, The weather man say’s Twistters and Hail from west Texas to Georgia, this coming weekend, God bless ya and be safe

      • Sunny says:

        All I heard about was high winds…… guess I better check the forecast again. Maybe I cou;d duck back down into Big Bend! I’d love a good excuse to hole up there 🙂

  34. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    Sue you must have a guardian angel guiding you to an honest auto mechanic. The $70 sounds about right now days for the time and effort it takes to check the brakes. I’d like to know how the oil change guy came to the conclusion that you only had 3 thousand more miles on your brakes? Did you authorize him to check your breaks out?

  35. geogypsy2u says:

    Always nice when repairs don’t need to be done and the mechanic is honest about it. There are two excellent Thrift Shops in Wickenburg, Soroptimist and Habitat for Humanity.

  36. Cari in Texas says:

    I know that was a relief that you didn’t have to get the brakework done. Being a single female, it chaps me no end when shops (and dealerships) try and take advantage of me. I know my way around a car, sort of, plus I have male friends that help me out with advice a lot. I had a dealership tell me a few years ago that my brakes (forget if it was front or rear) were bad and needed replacing. I went to my local brake shop and they said everything was fine. Grrr… I’ve developed my own list of local car repair places that treat me with respect.

    And I think the $70 was fair for the inspection. As others have said, most shops charge by the hour, plus you are paying for his expertise and knowledge.

    Spring has sprung and gone away again here in North Texas. It was 75 on Wed, now it’s 50 and rainy, with a possible freeze predicted for Sunday night. That’s Texas for ya – one last blast of winter, just when the trees and flowers are budding. 😦

  37. PamP in SW Florida says:

    Well—- I was expecting the repair bill surprise to require such expensive repairs that you’d never be able to afford it. I have a good and trusted mechanic, but have been places where I was lied to as well. How happy I am to hear your good news.

  38. Ms. Minimal says:

    Gotta love a place you can trust!! & Pirates othe Carribean. 🙂

  39. Iris says:

    I just found your blog and I am really enjoying the simplicity of your writing. I want to thank you for the information as to where to get my brakes done I can hear mine so I know it’s time. I am also camping out in the dessert with a parrot and a shitz su. I hope we meet some day. I am very new at this but I have learned so much. I have a small rig an 11ft 88sq foot sport trailer that can go in the back roads and anywhere. Thanks again.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Iris, and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you find something of value in my posts.

      “I am very new at this but I have learned so much.” I didn’t know very much when I started, yet somehow I learned as I went along, and I keep on learning. It sounds like you are well-equipped with an agile trailer and an avarian-canine crew. Good luck getting your brakes fixed. Thanks for writing. I hope you will keep in touch.

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