MADISON, WISCONSIN -- I went to Saturn of Madison yesterday because an indicator light on my dashboard was intermittently blinking. I mistakenly thought it was the battery light, so that's what I told them and they said they'd check out the electrical system. Later they told me that they never saw the light come on but they tested the alternator, and it took a long time, but after testing it for a while, they found that my alternator was at only 70% power. They replaced the alternator (for $385 including labor), I drove off and the indicator light immediately came back on.
I returned immediately to the dealership, and they asked me to come back the next morning. The next day they found the blinking light, and said that it was actually the coolant light. They topped off my coolant and said that it was fine now and the light was off.
I asked if I could get my old alternator put back in, but they said that it was bad anyway, so they recommended that I keep it. I asked them to put the old one back in again, and they said that they couldn't refund the labor (about $200). I told them to leave in the new alternator and give me back the old one. They charged me $30 to keep my old part, but I paid it anyway.
I made a few calls and quickly found a nearby company that does nothing but repair and rebuild generators, drove straight over there, and had my old alternator tested. They were very kind and didn't charge me for the test. There was nothing wrong with my old alternator!
I went straight back to the Saturn dealership and told them about the test and they quickly agreed to put the old alternator back in the car and give me a full refund.
The refund will be by check even though I paid by credit card and it will take two weeks. I donât know if Iâll actually get the money or not, but in any case, I know that they would have done nothing if I hadnât gone right away to have the old part tested. Replacing a car part that isnât broken is not something I would expect from a reputable car dealership.
Saturn did refund my money right away, and after I complained to the head office I received a certificate for 4 free oil changes. The only problem with that is that I have to go back to that same dealership to have my oil changed. They always tell me that I need hundreds of dollars worth of things done to it, even things that I've just had done elsewhere. Oh well. Three more oil changes to go and I'll never have to walk in there again.