AskPatty Certified Female Friendly Logo
Car is an Olds Alero, 2001, with 78,000 miles. I took my car in for a free 24-point check. The mechanic called and said: 1. Battery needs to be replaced. (Battery in car is original.) 2. Coolant is only good to -20 degrees; needs partial draining and replacing. I said it was good to -34 in Nov.05; he said it deteriorates or maybe someone added water to it. 3. Heat/air cond. doesn't work at the first two levels when you turn it on--only works at the higher levels. He'd need to put it through a diagnostic test ($94) to discover where the problem is. I knew about the heat/cold problem. Doesn't bother me that much; I'll get it fixed when I have some money. I semi-didn't believe the coolant problem so I took my car to a Valvoline place for an oil change and asked specifically what degree the coolant was good to. They said it was good to -30 degrees. I took my brother to his mechanic (to pick up his car) and asked them to test the battery. They said it was fine. Could these discrepancies be because of different testing methods? Or should I find another place to go for car maintenance? Your response will be very helpful one way or the other because both my sister and niece go to the place where I got the free 24-point check. Thank you.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Gayle Clark, Owner at Motor City Sales & Services I am not too shocked by this issue...different mechanics....different diagnosis. This is not uncommon. Depending on where you live [weather conditions] I would say a average battery life is three to five years. Coolant can break down over a period of time, so I would have recommended the partial drain and refilling of coolant as well. The heat/air problem sounds as if it could be the blower motor [needs replacement] you would in fact need an inspection to determine if it does need to be replaced or if there are electrical issues....basically this sounds pretty decent and above board to me. If you drove your vehicle into the shop, you know it is working, but parhaps when it was tested, they load tested it, and saw it was weak. [In this case, I would have EXPLAINED THIS TO YOU and suggested a new battery as well] the only issue I have with this entire situation is the -20 coolant vs -30, I think this is not good, and find this to be a extreme difference. Perhaps it was human error????? Overall, I would not recommend you find another repair center [not at this time] I would simply ask them about the methods in which they used to determine their findings, and give them the chance to explain any misunderstanding. If in the future, if you find history repeating itself at this repair center then I would recommend you leave. Gayle Clark

Jamey Wozniak, Owner and CEO at Joe's Hitch, Trailer & Truck Accessories Its all a matter of opinion.  At this point you need another opinion.  Coolant/Anti-freeze does deteriorate as it has rust inhibitors.  Batteries do wear out " and should be replaced.  As for the heater fan motor " that is up to you on when you have it repaired " its just an inconvenience.

Lori Johnson, Owner and Instructor at Ladies Start Your Engines Dear Linda, Most of time when you go to a place that offers a free inspection of your vehicle, they're going to find something wrong. You were smart to have it checked out somewhere else. Now you need to decide if you trust them enough to go back. Here are some things I will tell you though. A battery can last up to 5 years if you take care of them. If this battery is the original, I'd say you've gotten your money's worth, but it's probably about done. Coolant for most vehicles should be changed around every 30,000 miles. You should check your owners manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. There are chemicals that break down over time and make the coolant less effective. While there are proper ways to do tests on both of these items, it depends on the experience and knowledge of the person doing them. I would find someone that you trust, and when in doubt, find a dealership. They are going to have the most experience with your vehicle. While it may cost a little more initially, you probably won't have to get a second opinion. Lori

Contribute to this question:

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Oldsmobile Alero FAQs

  • Is 176k miles a lot for 2001 Oldsmobile alero? Read More
  • I would like to know how to put the engine splash guards back on my car. They were taken ... Read More
  • My blower only works on Low and High settings. What should I do? Read More
  • Idle problem, it don't want to crank. And once or twice it has died on me. I now believe ... Read More
  • My 1999 Olds Alero has a \"wrinkly forehead\"...the covering on the top of the dash has ... Read More
  • Maintenance schedule for 2004 oldsmobile alero with 25,000 miles. Please give type of ... Read More

Need Car Advice?

Ask The Experts!

Looking for a New or Used Car?

Search for our Certified Female Friendly® Car Buying Marketplace locations

Help Our Charities