$800 to repair a burned-out dash light?

Question: Please write something concerning the replacement of lights in the dash of a 2008 Mercury Sable.

The light indicating the mileage has burned out in my car, and the repair cost is $800. This is a very fine auto, but that price is outrageous.

Answer: I agree $800 to repair an odometer display is a tough pill to swallow. At least you're not talking about a Mercedes, for which a similar repair could hit $3,000.

The most cost-effective way to fix this would entail removing the instrument-panel cluster - or having someone do this for you - and sending it in for repairs to a place that fixes them.

One such place is Clusterfix.net. The price for the repair is $185, and you can view on the company's website its video on removal procedures to see if it's something you'd want to tackle.

Turnaround time for the repair is a couple of days plus shipping time. It's not advised to drive the car without the cluster in place.

Q: I own a 2014 Jeep Patriot. I purchased it from a dealer brand new and have had most of the service done by an authorized dealer. It has a manual transmission and has 34,500 miles on it. It is still covered by the original warranty, which covers three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

I lost my clutch and brought the vehicle to the dealer, who told me the particular repair would not be covered by the warranty and would cost $1,792.

I'm confused regarding the warranty and simply cannot afford such a price for a new clutch. Any advice?

A: Wow, it's unusual to wear out a clutch disc so quickly unless you drive on lots of steep hills or share the Jeep with a teenager.

When you say "lost the clutch," do you mean it slips? The cause would probably be a worn clutch disc, or in rare cases, a failed pressure plate. If you're having disengagement problems (difficulty shifting, gear clashing), this could be caused by a fault in the clutch-control system or pressure plate.

Your manufacturer's warranty considers the clutch disc to be a maintenance part, so it's not covered. All other clutch parts should be, unless evidence of abuse or modification is present.

Based on the price you were quoted, it sounds as if you have the four-wheel-drive version of the Patriot (almost eight hours to renew the clutch disc) as opposed to the front-wheel-drive version (five hours). This assumes an hourly labor rate of $170 at the dealer.

The clutch disc and pressure plate are typically renewed as a set, including throw-out bearing, with a parts list price of $464 plus tax. Resurfacing of the flywheel may also be needed if its friction surface has hot spots or other damage.

Assuming it is the clutch disc that's needed, one way to beat this price would be to find a good independent shop with a lower labor rate and a somewhat less expensive aftermarket clutch kit.

I'm concerned this may happen again in two years unless your driving conditions somehow change.

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