Mirror, mirror on the pickup: Was the dealer’s price a stickup?

Though I buy online like everyone else, I try to shop locally whenever I can. I like the idea of supporting my friends and neighbors. When they do good, their business does good.

When a business does good, it pays taxes that benefit us all. Truly, supporting local business is the way to go. Unless you have what happened to me recently, where you are forced to look elsewhere.

I’m lucky to have a carport to park my truck in. My large two-car garage is filled with my wife’s car, our motorcycles, and a lot of other stuff. So the carport works great to keep the truck out of the weather.

The only thing is, it is kind of narrow. And the truck mirrors stick out a lot. Can you guess where this is going?

I banged up my mirrors while backing up a couple of times, such that they needed to be replaced. I back up successfully 999 out of 1,000 times, but it’s that one time that is the problem.

I went to my local Ford dealer to order new parts. Because I do so much car and motorcycle work myself, I’m rarely at the dealership.

As I waited, I looked in the waiting room. It was filled with people sitting, staring at their phones in a daze, while a TV blasted up in the corner. Old crumpled magazines spilled over the low-slung tables.

There were plenty of vending machines, but I didn’t see any free coffee. The mood was, shall we say, pensive? All I know is, I’m glad I can do most of the work on my own vehicles.

My truck is a 2015 F150. Pretty common, as far as trucks go (the F150 has been the number-one selling vehicle in this country for over 40 years). That’s why I was surprised at how long it was taking to get me a price for new mirrors.

Truck mirrors just stick out so far. I know I’m not the only one who has to replace them. You would think they’d just be there in stock, ready to go. No biggie.

When the guy finally came back with the quote, even he was in shock.

“I don’t know what’s going on with these mirrors, but here’s the quote,” he said, as he handed me the computer printout.

Are you sitting down? The left-hand mirror was $400. And the right-hand mirror was $800. And these prices didn’t even include installation!

As I was in shock myself, my jaw literally hanging open, the first thing that came to my mind was not why are these mirrors so damn expensive, but rather, why was the right one twice the cost of the left one?

“Oh, I can explain that,” the counter guy said. “It’s because the right-side mirror has the temperature sender.

 OK, but still, this is for a pickup truck, right? It’s not like this is the temperature sender on the Voyager I and II spacecraft that, as you read this, are heading out into interstellar space at about 38,000 miles per hour. I mean, give me a break, these are only mirrors for a pickup truck.

So I told the parts guy I’d get back to him and went home empty handed. Again, I’m all about supporting local businesses, I really am. But I’m not about getting ripped off, either.

The prices I was quoted were just so egregious I had to figure something else out. Especially since my truck is due for its annual safety inspection soon.

A quick search on eBay found a listing from a company with a 99-percent approval rating. Of course, approval ratings can be faked, but at least it’s something.

This listing showed a pair of mirrors for my exact model and year of F150. The price? It was $112 for the pair, with free shipping. Yes. I put in my order, and a week later the mailman, bless his soul, lugged a large box up to my front porch.

Then I waited for it to finally stop raining. It’s been that kind of year. When it did, it took me all of a half-hour to remove the old mirrors and install the new ones.

These replacement mirrors look and function exactly like the original. So, as long as I pay better attention when I back up into tight spaces, I should be fine.

So consider: $1,200 at the dealer for two truck mirrors, and that price is without the installation labor charge, versus $112 from eBay that only took me a half-hour to install. Mama mia!

Note that I’m so busy in retirement having fun and finally getting to do things I never had time for before, that I even called my insurance agent to see if I could just put in a claim for replacing the mirrors. I mean, I’m paying the premiums; isn’t that what insurance is for?

He said because each mirror had been damaged at different times, it would be considered two separate “collisions,” each with a $500 deductible, and my rates would most likely go up as well. Yikes!

I’m used to working on cars, motorcycles, and just about everything else. I can’t do everything, but I have the tools and, most times, the patience to at least try.

So this fiasco actually worked out quite well for me. I was able to find the mirrors I needed online, and was able to install them myself, saving over $1,000.

But what if this had happened to, say, a single mother, or someone who doesn’t have the tools, the space, or the experience to work on their own vehicle? That is a lot of money they’d be out. That’s not good.

I don’t know what is going on at my local Ford dealer to result in these mirrors getting marked up so, so much. As I said, I do as much as I can myself, so I’m rarely at a car dealership parts counter or service counter.

But, if this is what it’s like having a dealership work on your vehicle, I guess I’ll be holding on to my tools a little while longer.

Supporting local business is great, but your local business has to support you as well.