I have a little problem. Yesterday I was idling in a parking lot in Orlando and I noticed that I was losing electrical power. The AC started blowing warm air and the steering got really stiff. I turns out that a belt had broken, so the battery was losing juice. I have a service contract from Chrysler with roadside assistance, so I called and requested a tow to the dealer, which of course was not open at the time. The techs that work on the Sprinter vans are never in on weekends.

For starters, the wrecker that showed up to tow me couldn't handle that van and had to request someone else to bring extra equipment, so by the time they got me towed to the dealer it was after midnight. The sign at the service department said they opened at 7:30, so I got into the sleeper and went to bed. Sure enough, there was a knock at the window at 6:00 am. They had the van in by 6:30 and were looking at it. By 8:00 the guy comes to me and says that two belts had broken and that one of those belts wasn't covered, so it's going to be $300 to fix it. Great, I don't feel like shelling out that much, but it could be worse. He also tells me it's going to be tomorrow before it can be fixed.

Then I'm told that I can get a replacement rental, but their definition of replacement and mine apparently aren't the same. I have a minivan to run around Orlando in, but not a vehicle that I can use to do generate any income whatever while I'm down here. So I'm sitting here and the dealer just called me back to tell me that not only did the belt break, but apparently it got sucked into some other part of the engine and did some damage. Now the estimate to fix it goes from $300 to $1500 and he's saying it will be 3 or 4 days. That fishy smell isn't the seafood place I just had lunch at either.

So now I'm on hold with Chrysler trying to sort out what exactly is covered under my service contract and the guy at Chrysler just told me that the serpentine belt is indeed covered, after the dealer told me it isn't. So at this point we're trying to figure out if the belt is covered, does that in turn cover any damage the belt could have done when it broke? The whole rub is that part of my service contract is regular servicing at 10,000 mile intervals. That servicing involves an oil change, fuel filter change, and a 23 point inspection that is supposed to check all the belts and hoses and replace any that are wearing out or in danger of breaking soon. I last had that done in Cincinnati just two weeks ago. I've only done about 2500 miles since then.

So now while I'm just typing this, my phone just rang. Chrysler sorted it out with the dealer and everything is covered. The entire thing, no money out of my pocket at all. Whew! I think I'll still submit this rant, just to show how you have to be on top of things so a dealer doesn't take advantage of you. But you would think a dealer would be able to look in the computer and see what items are covered under a service plan.