An intermittent "battery" light is usually caused by a failing alternator. Specifically the brushes are worn and not making good contact. You didn't list which engine you have so I don't know how the belts are tensioned, and I can't say about your alternator, but on a lot of Chrysler products that brush assembly can be replaced without removing the alternator from the engine. The part costs about $15.00 but be aware this is usually a do-it-yourself project. If your mechanic has your best interest at heart he is going to install a rebuilt alternator with a warranty. If he repairs an assembly like an alternator or starter, he is on the hook if he does something wrong, then he has to do it over again for free and that costs him and the shop owner money and lost time on someone elses car. It costs you more time, but more importantly, the rest of the parts in that assembly are just as old. If another part of it fails, like the bearings or diodes, you can be expected to pay for that new and unrelated repair. Now you have more labor time in it than if the assembly was just replaced the first time, and worse, you still have a lot of old parts in it. A conscientious mechanic will replace the entire alternator. You'll pay more for the part but a lot less for the labor time compared to taking it off the engine, pulling it apart, installing the brush assembly, testing it off the engine, reinstalling it, then testing the system. That's why replacing just the brushes is a do-it-yourself project when you're trying to save money.
For some reason mechanics are held to much higher standards than doctors. Some people are always sick and are constantly running from one doctor to another but we don't accuse them of purposely making us sick. When repeat visits involve something we know very little about but trust our lives to, we blame the mechanics. In this case you've listed a lot of common repairs that all seemed to occur around the same time so your concern is understandable. If you aren't happy with the service you're receiving from the professionals who are most familiar with your car model, there are plenty of independent shops with equally skilled and experienced mechanics. Dealership service departments generally are one of two types. The first one is swamped with work and it's hard to get an appointment because they are well-known to do good work and look out for their customers. You will find plenty of older cars there that are long out-of-warranty. We have four outlying Chrysler dealerships, a GMC dealership, a Cadillac dealership, and a lot of independent shops like that. If you see a lot of mechanics milling around with nothing to do, or a lot of service bays empty, people have learned to avoid those places. All you'll see are cars being repaired under warranty. Also look for cars with the window stickers still in them. Some places park new cars in the service area to make it look busier. We have a well-known Chevrolet dealership near me like that with a real well-known horrible reputation for ripping people off. The owner has taken over the Ford dealership, which used to have a great reputation, and a number of import dealerships. His are the type of places that will nit-pick your car to death in an effort to "find" needed work. They need to find something to do to stay busy. That's not the same as intentionally damaging someone's car. All the things you listed are common so it's not likely a mechanic is doing anything to hurry-up these problems. Even if he did, I can't think of a way to do that.
Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 AT 11:52 AM