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Dealer vs. independent shop?



  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,609
    "We're starting to wonder if this Saab dealership's maintenance dept. is in cahoots with the sales department"

    Unlikely. Once a person has owned a Saab, they usually won't buy another one!
  • If using local, independent shops to do work, generally how many shops should I call to get a good feeling as to appropriate charge for doing work like brake pad and rotor replacement?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,419
    You can walk in and ask any shop for a written estimate. If they can't be bothered, you can't be bothered.

    In this way you not only can compare prices, but also check and see that both shops or three shops are bidding on the exact same job. Is it new rotors or turning old ones? What quality of pads are they using?.


  • I own a 2003 Saturn Vue Awd and recently had my check engine light come while driving home. I took the automobile to Saturn of The Mountain Empire to have it checked, 2911 North Roan Street, Johnson City, TN 37601. They called me in a few days and said,” It has a bad transmission and it will cost just over six thousand dollars to have it repaired”. I located another repair facility they said they could repair the transmission for no more than a thousand dollars so I went to pick my car up. I was then informed that I owed the dealership $2200 for labor determining that I needed transmission repair. They ever claimed they took the engine out took it apart and then replace it trying to find the problem. In talking to many people no one has ever heard of anything like this. I could understand a reasonable charge for their time but not this. They must have the most incompetent bunch of mechanics and service department personnel in the US if they actually did this service.
    I am a single female senior citizen on social security and know very little about automobile mechanics. I feel that my lack of knowledge in the area allowed them to take easy advantage of me which they readily did. I contacted the Saturn company and they got the amount reduced to $1567.66. They would not release my car until this amount was paid, which I had to do. My automobile is currently being repaired in another shop for $950 but I know I have been robbed by Saturn of The Mountain Empire.
    My Saturn was a nice automobile, but I will never own another one. Has anyone else had a similar experience with a Saturn dealership?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    What approvals did you give the dealership ahead of time, relative to what they would diagnose? I've never been to a dealership, which didn't give a written estimate....even in sistuations where they had to do diagnostics.
  • autodrautodr Posts: 27
    In my area (SC), if you didn't authorize it, you don't owe it.

    I can't just go into your pocket book and help myself. I have to provide an estimate, and you have to authorize it before I can spend your money. Here, in my dealer, you are told up front that there is a diagnostic fee, and what that fee is. Typically, it is $95.00 that is quoted for a blanked generic fee. You sign the bottom of the repair order that states the diag fee as "$95" and provide us with permission to drive the vehicle as needed to diagnose it. That pays for up to one hour of diagnostic time. Most problems will be diagnosed in that one hour. So then you get a call back with a repair estimate that includes the original diagnostic fee as well. If you decline the repairs, you only owe the original diag fee of $95.

    In some cases, the problem will require more time to diagnose. Some times teardown is required of a large mechanical part (like engine or trans), or the interior of the vehicle may require disassembly (taking seats, carpet, panels out). In a case like that, you'll get a call stating that we need more $$$ for the added diag time, and an estimate for the added time will be provided based the technician's view of the amount of teardown time he will need. If you decline it, you owe only the original diag fee because that time is used up.

    Now, the funny part is when it comes to authorization when done over a phone. There is no one to sign a dollar figure. So, both parties need to be honest. Most of the time, that works fine. Every now and then, a shop or a customer (this does go both directions).... will say one thing and do something else.

    Sometimes a customer lies. They authorize work and rip the shop off this way... it happens. I worked for one independent that recorded all phone authorizations with phone recording and informing the customer they were being recorded.

    I've also heard of a bunch of stories like yours about shops who just either went ahead and fixed a car without authorization, or ran up a huge diag fee without auth. So I have no doubt it happens, I've just never seen it. I have seen what appeared to be miscommunication situations, usually the fault of the shop because they are not clear enough in explaining charges during the conversation.

    It might be that they are saying you ok'd it when you didn't. But, can they prove it in court? That's what matters. If it is not in writing, the courts don't recognize it. The only thing is, it sounds like you've already paid for it. So, by paying for it, that is a type .... or could be turned into... a type of authorization.
  • I am picking up my 03 Vue this afternoon I have spent approx $3000.00 on it since Nov 07 In Jan 08 the check engine light came on and they replaced the oil pan, injectors breaks rotors and thermostat On Tues 2-19-08 the engine blew due to the mechanic not putting on the filter and cap I cannot believe the nerve of the service manager calling me up to tell me he was going to charge me to fix it I THREW A FIT and contacted Saturn I am not paying for the repair I have started putting out all this money since they have hired a new Service Manager NEVER HAS ANY OF MY SATURNS GIVEN ME ANY PROBLEMS UTIL NOW 2-8-08 I am picking the car My VUE has 140,000 miles on it and up to this point I LOVED it We just purchased the AURA XR This will be our 5th Saturn
  • i have o5 mini , i need those plastic pos fasteners that hold the fender flares to the hood , anybody know where to find them online or walk in in nc ???
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