It should come as no surprise that the purchase price of an exotic automobile is just the start of its inevitable rampage on your wallet. It’s important to have a sizable source of funds or a great insurance policy in case shit runs downhill at an alarming rate. Here’s what happens when you have neither.
A Canadian Aston Martin owner found herself the subject of a bit of controversy today, as she went public with the news of her Aston Martin DB9's repair bill, with allegations that the repair shop, Burrard Autostrasse, is holding her car and her bank account essentially hostage to the tune of $130,000 Canadian Dollars, which equates to just under $100,000 in the US.
The story, as reported by Richmond News, has the car’s owner, Jessica Liu, demanding that she be cleared of any liability for the Aston’s damages - damages that occurred when she inexplicably ran off the road and hit a large stone in December of 2015.
Liu’s insurance coverage was basic and wouldn’t cover the six figure bill, so when the numbers started piling up she opted to simply leave the car at the shop. The crux of the matter is reported to be over the price of repairing the brake rotors and a sub-frame:
To put things into perspective, a pot of the car’s silver paint, which is named after Bond movie Skyfall, chimes in at $900 and a single headlight registers at $7,000.
Neither of those items, however, form the crux of Liu’s contention, with her focus trained on the cost of a pair of brake rotors ($30,000, plus labour) and a completely new subframe ($25,000, plus labour).
But the issues appear to go deeper:
“I’m not going to pay a cent; I don’t even want the car back anymore; I want a refund (from the dealer),” Liu, who is in her 30s, told the Richmond News via email from China.
“I don’t think it’s safe to drive. I just drove it for two weeks; I don’t trust the car, I don’t trust the dealer and I don’t trust the autoshop’s invoices.”
Liu, who told BA to stop working on her car last fall, questioned the need to buy a pair of rotors (brakes) when only one of them is chipped and claims she can get the subframe for $10,000 less somewhere else.
To compound her misery, Liu is being dinged $200 a day by BA for storage of the Aston Martin. On Monday, that fee was $18,000.
“I shouldn’t be paying storage fees for a car that isn’t finished,” she added.
Upping insurance coverage is relatively inexpensive, and the fact that one would go through with the purchase of a six figure car and neglect a cost that would avoid a year of stress is nonsensical.
Sure, the $30,000 cost for brake rotors does seem like a lot if you’re comparing the costs to that of a Toyota Yaris, but not when you’re talking about bespoke carbon ceramic rotors and pads that can only be replaced as a set and don’t take well to being smashed into large rocks.
The same goes for the car’s lightweight aluminum subframe and carbon fiber body panels, which can only be purchased from an Aston Martin certified dealer, a fact that Liu learned when she attempted to get a cheaper quote from a competing shop.
As someone who has priced out upgrades for an Aston Martin, sticker shock is the rule rather than the exception, and the shop’s comments on the news story accentuate this point clearly.
Explaining parts of the $132,000 bill, Frank Van Pykstra, co-owner of BA, said the brakes are ceramic and, therefore, “they can’t be machined” like regular brakes.
“This is a car that can go 250 kilometres per hour; we can’t take any chances, it has to be 100 per cent,” said Van Pykstra.
As for needing a pair of rotors and not just one, Van Pykstra said, “When you’re braking in this car, in any car really, the brakes need to be balanced. You can’t replace just one.”
The subframe, he said, is a “restricted part,” meaning only authorized shops can buy it. “I’m not sure how (Liu) could get the subframe for that price; it would have to be from a damaged car or something or from someone using the kind of certification that only a very few people have.”
According to the report, Liu has been given the option of having the $18,000 storage fees waived, with $5,000 taken off the top of the entire repair bill if the matter is resolved quickly, although given the willingness of the owner to take this matter to the press, I won’t hold my breath.
In any case, this story is a cautionary tale, to always make sure your car is covered, especially when your car costs more than most houses.