The Middleton household fortunately has 2 cars: A 2001 Jeep Cherokee CRD and a 2003 Peugeot 307 2.0.XS. We’ve had the Peugeot longest and the clock sits on 270,000kms. Given this figure and the fact that we’ve never had major trouble with it, the services have always been spot on and it’s still a decent looking and comfortable car, I’d say it has treated us well.

The Jeep...well, we haven’t had it long but it’s had a long and hard life, trekking across Southern Africa many times to and from Zimbabwe; Mozambique and the whole landscape of South Africa and Swaziland. It hasn’t treated us well, though it has travelled more than 362,000kms. Anyhow, that said, by way of a long introduction, we have 2 relatively old cars.

With this sort of age comes the reality that things will go wrong and we’ve never spent anything less than R10,000 bucks on ‘servicing’ the Jeep. That said, the last 2 issues were a broken fuel pump (I think) and most recently a broken starter. On the Pug, as we affectionately call it, the rear seat clip broke a few months back and then an oil leak sprung from somewhere between the gearbox and the engine(there are technical terms for these but I don’t know em). It is this leak which has brought me to this debate and slating session.

I decided that we had spent too much money on dealers when our cars had issues, so low and behold, 200 metres down the road from our house, a shiny new ‘Car Service City’ opened up. They looked the part, the staff was friendly and after a little bit of debate, we sent the Pug there to get this oil leak seen to. We ‘checked’ the car in and were told they’d have it sorted within a few hours. At this point let me assert that the car was fine, apart from a small oil leak which was only causing issues with the body corporate where I live, because the paving was getting dirty. Other than that the car drove perfectly well, without any issues. When we picked it up a few hours later, I noticed 2 things. 1) The car sounded like a diesel, which is ISN’T. (2) The car felt like a Diesel, which it ISN’T. Not a C220 CDI Diesel; but like my father’s old Toyota Hilux diesel. It was rough; idled erratically and the engine shook as if an engine mounting was gone.

I complained. Graciously. The car was not the same car we drove in this morning. Was the oil leak fixed? A resounding YES! But the rest of the car was a mess. A complete and utter mess! They then suggested they clean out the fuel system, whatever that actually means. That too was a joke, and one of the skilled mechanics almost lost his face when the car popped hot air and liquid (I don’t know what kind) straight into his face. It was clear...I was dealing with idiots. And I was an even bigger idiot. The ‘flush’ didn’t help and I complained again to the manager; who said they did nothing other than fix the leak. I complained again, to the Owner, an older, more arrogant man. I wanted my money back, plain and simple! He refused saying I couldn’t prove that they had worsened the car. Oddly, all the staff were fired a few days later, so when I returned to complain more, nobody was there who had worked on my car, so....

I then complained to Head office of Car Service City who kindly told me to eff off and deal with the owner of the branch. I wrote complaints to RMI and I complained on HelloPeter, all to absolutely no difference. All that I got was the same garb from the owner, except this time in written form.

So I spend R5000 to get a worse car that needed even more repair. I then took the poor old Pug to Peugeot Fourways and as always, they sorted it quickly and professionally, and as always, it cost me a further R6000.

In my mind, there’s no debate here. I am loathe to use another independent repair centre. . . oh yes but then a Bosch Centre opened a few metres from the said Car Service City. I took the Jeep there for it’s starter motor to be fixed. They stored the car, fixed the car in bullet quick time AND it cost me R489.00.
So now what? I still don’t know what is best and if there is a way to establish when to use a repair centre or when to go straight to the dealer.

- Bosch Service Centre 100m from home.

We’ve now decided to buy new cars. The clutch on the Pug has just gone, and you know what? I can’t deal with it right now. I knew it was coming, but now that it has, well, I hang my face in my hands and cry man-tears because I know that we’re in for double figure thousands. That trip to Greece looks like it’s going to remain a dream...and there’s no money there either.

(Oh and by the way, if you Google ‘Car Service City’; you’ll find that a the 2nd result...and the 3rd and the 4th. Wow I’m surprised!!!! )

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