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Why do you guys despise the dealership service?

I must either really be loved by the service departments at my regular dealerships or I am just extremely naive.

Why is it that everyone says the dealerships charge so much and the service sucks?

I have seen otherwise. The prices on regular maintenance at the dealership beat those of the Jiffy Lubes and even things like brake work beats those of other non dealership garages.

I get my Toyotas oil changed at the dealership for alittle under $20 where if I went to Jiffy Lube or Texaco Xpress Lube it would be close to if not over $30.

Im going to get my Acura's brakes worked on at the dealership for $169, I shopped around for prices and the lowest I was quoted was $199.

See my train of thought is, the dealerships work on one brand all day long, every day. They are trained on that one line of vehicles. Whereas Jiffy Lube and other garages work on every single vehicle on the road.

What are your thoughts and do you visit the dealership or just a service chain.

Thanks for your input


  • The service I receive at the dealership is more on a personal level. They dont try to haggle you into getting a engine flush or engine treatment.

    The Toyota dealership I visit (Coggin Toyota of the Avenues in JAX FL) is probably one of the best places I have been to. This may sound funny but they just make me want to spend more money and I have. They dont seem to care that I am driving a old raggedy Toyota truck, they treat me with the same care that they do of someone driving a brand new Camry.
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    My experience with dealers is that they are much higher than independants on normal maintenance things like brakes, transmission service, anti-freeze flush & fill, etc. They also push dubious things that aren't called for in the owner's manual like "fuel injector cleaning" and "throttle body service." OTOH, for engine work, I think the dealers are better equipped in both equipment and skill than your typical independant. So I don't despise them but I think it's cheaper to go elsewhere for most routine maintenance.
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    On problems or maintenance where it is obvious that a dealer would be familar with it the dealer is the first choice, especially on a new model car where independents have not see it. Check engine light is a good example where dealers may be best.

    Here's why I go to independent for almost everything (I change own oil and filter and ail filters)
    Price is usually less then dealer, I can buy genuine OEM parts on line at wholesale and my independent puts them in for me at less cost.
    No hassle, I drop it off pick it up without major paperwork of signing my life away etc etc which adds 10-15 minutes to each drop off. Also, no line to check car in.
    Same mechanics at independent, Dealers service reps (and mechanics) are like whores, switch brands and dealers at a whim. Don't really know the car in many cases.

    Also agree that dealers are much more apt to push more maintenance (crap like "based upon our climate" you should change the oil efvery 3000 miles.) Every dealer in every state says that!

    Primarily the hassle though, lines, papers to sign, etc. etc. Just a pain!
  • I don't despise dealership service centers, they are as good or as bad as any other shop. But, they do tend to charge more for both service and parts. My local garage (less than 1 block from my house) runs a coupon special every 3 months. I get oil/filter/lube for $9.95. That even includes most any grade of oil you specify. But the normal price is $17.95, which isn't bad either.

    Remember, the dealer is using OEM parts when he performs work on your car. You pay for the name and a profit markup for the parts stock. When I changed spark plugs on a Ford Windstar, the Ford dealer wanted to charge $54 for the plugs. My local shop charged $24 for the same Ford (motorcraft) plugs. (These were the platinum, 100k mile plugs.)

    As far as getting a good trustworthy service center, you need to shop around. If you are happy with the service, feel you are getting honest diagnosis and work performed at a fair price, then you are a satisfied customer.

    I had a Ford dealer's service rep attempt to fraudulently convince me I needed over $1600 in repairs. After keeping my vehicle for over 8 hours before doing a diagnostic check for me, the mechanic actually loosened my radiator pressure return hose (that goes to the reservoir tank) and let it leak over the front of the engine. He also poured oil over the timing cover and then tried to convince me I had major oil and coolant leaks. He called me over to the car while it was on the lift. The oil and coolant were dripping so much, I couldn't even get under to see where it was coming from. The amazing thing is, the vehicle was never low on fluids and didn't require any abnormal topping off. I called the manager of the dealership over and had him and the service manager accompany me to the parking spot where the vehicle had been sitting for 8 hours (the service slip verified the time). There was not a drop of anything on the ground. I received free diagnostic and repair. (I had a faulty sensor that was causing the computer to mis-adjust the timing and illuminate the service engine lite). I never returned again.
  • I too am a fan of independent mechanics. I must add though, that I would never go to a Jiffy Lube or Midas or other chain. I have been using a mechanic for the last 15 years that is a Honda specialist and AAA approved.

    My gripes with dealerships are that they sometimes diagnose problems and recommend services that either dont exist, can wait, or aren't needed. For instance:
    - Two years ago we got an oil change. The dealer said CV joints and boots were bad. This is possible on Honda as we had 60k on the car. I didnt hear any of the usual warning signs (i.e. the clicking) I took my car to my mechanic and he said, no the cv boots and joints are fine. I have gone to the dealer for subsequent oil changes and they have yet to bring it up again when diagnosing. 20k later, still no problems with cv boots and joints.
    - The dealer said we needed a new timing belt at 60k. 1995 Hondas get a new belt at 90k. (While I certainly realize this mileage is the 'recommended' amount, the car wasn't older than its mileage. Meaning if I had a 7 year old car with 40k, I would probably get the timing belt changed.)
    - The last oil change was at 80k. The dealer said we needed to fix a broken front engine mount, it was in bad need of a tune up, and a new timing belt. Well, Hondas get a 90k service. This service of course includes a tune up. Timing belt can wait. ( I am still researching the front engine mount but I believe it to be minor)
    - The 1995 went in for a recall. (Sorry cant remember the specifics). Basically when the dealer performed the recall they wanted to put in a new timing belt. I came to find out (from town hall) that if the Timing belt was replaced, the recall wasn't necessary. Basically, they wanted to make money on a recall that should have been free.

    I have used dealerships lately for oil changes, and here's why
    1. better hours. My mechanic is only open weekdays. Weekend oil changes are much more convenient.
    2. we just got a new car and we got 2 free years of oil changes.

    If I were to get any scheduled maintenance or 'big work' done, I would go to my mechanic. No question. The thing a like about my mechanic is that he is very upfront with me. He tells me what can wait, what needs to be done and what doesn't need to be done. No BS.
  • My experience is with Chrysler dealerships and they must have the worst dealer service network of them all. The only times I ever have a problem with a vehicle is after the dealer works on it. Trying to get them to do warranty work is like pulling teeth. I won't go into details here but I hate anytime my vehicles may have to go to the dealer. The only thing I try to go for is tranny fluid changes because with Chrysler trannies if you use the wrong fluid they don't work. This is why some people think Chrysler trannies are no good. Most you'll find had the wrong fluid put in but I digress from the topic.

    I know some will try to defend the dealer by saying the manufacturer isn't paying for or authorizing the work but that is not the customers' headache. That is the dealers for not negotiating contracts well. The customer should be seeing service as stated in the original post.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,054
    I think it just depends on where you go. Some dealerships are excellent, some are terrible, and the rest fall somewhere in between. Same with independent shops. For simple things like changing my oil, rotating my tires, or changing an air filter, I just do it myself, because it's quicker and cheaper than taking the car either to the dealership or the independent shop.

    I remember last year, I took my '00 Intrepid to the dealership because the tranny was acting funny. Well, everyone knows about the bad rap Chrysler trannies have nowadays, so my first inclination was imminent failure. What it was doing was not going into gear when I first started up on occasion. The dealership couldn't find anything wrong with it, but wanted to get me in for their "30K" maintenance checkup. The car had about 25K on it, but the way I was driving it would've been there in about a month and a half. Anyway, this "checkup" involved changing the coolant, spark plugs, belts, hoses, filters, etc. It was something like $300+, and did not include a tranny service, which was the thing I was most concerned about. Also didn't include brakes, which I have a tendency to go through in record time.

    Well, it turns out with the tranny thing, that the car makes you wait a few seconds after starting it up before shifting into gear. I was just used to my old cars, where you fired it up, dropped it into gear, and it lunged ahead. I had my regular mechanic check the car out at 30,000 miles. He serviced the tranny, put on new tires I bought online, and did a general check-over.

    I didn't have to mess with the dealership until about 5,000 miles later. Had the car in for warranty work...a bad power lock actuator in the driver's door, and since it was wintertime and I didn't want to mess with it, had them change the oil, too. They got it done pretty quickly, but jacked me up on the oil change. $26.95. And to top it off, they spilled oil all over the place, so the car smelled pretty bad until it all burned off. They also used bulk oil. Now I don't know if that's as bad as it sounds, but to me it sounds like leftovers. As for putting the door back together, they did a few annoying things. I didn't notice it right away, but there's a few places where you can tell they pried parts off with a screw driver, and left some small gouge-marks in the plastic, and one or two minor trim pieces are missing.

    My uncle bought his '97 Silverado from the same dealership, and it had to go in for tranny repairs about a year ago. They had that truck for a good two weeks. The last time I had any serious tranny problems, I had to have a tranny rebuilt in a '79 Newport, and the local shop had it done in about a day. Okay, a Torqueflite 904 is a lot simpler than whatever 4-speed Hydramatic went into my uncle's truck, but still...two weeks?!

    So while my dealership hasn't proven to be horrible, I just trust my local mechanic more. For example, I just had my Intrepid back in for a 50,000 mile checkup. It had a coolant leak, coming from the thermostat housing. Well, when I went to pick up the car, he had the old part right there, so he could show me exactly where it was leaking. I would've trusted him even if he didn't show me the part, but he just likes his customers to see exactly what was wrong with the car. I'm sure there are plenty of dealerships out there that have excellent service's just that mine isn't one of them!
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    Let me state at first that I really like specialists. I have been fortunate to find specialty mechanics for both my Mazda, and Subaru. Nor do I mind paying the full flat rate for the job even if the specialists can do it in a shorter time. I found that the specialists can fix it right, and that they understand the quirks. That's what matters most.

    For a car under warranty I wouldn't consider anything other than a dealer. On Toyotas it would even include an oil change.

    Mechanics at dealers can be the best if they have appropriate experience. They can also be the worst. My biggest frustration is lack of experience. I had just found my Subaru repairman, but when the clutch went out I went with the dealer because they assured me they had more experience. I had them install the clutch and when I went home I heard this loud thump. we immediately stopped the car, walked home, and had it towed to the dealership. Apparently they had forgotten to put in 2 bolts. No problem since luckly, but certainly the quality control should have been there.

    I don't like having to pay for others mistakes. And dealer's always charge. My son had a loud noise. The mechanic thought it was the power steering. It was replaced twice still with the same sound. It was really the air conditioner compressor. The independent mechanic ate the cost of the power steering pump and just charged for the air conditioning compressor. A dealer, based on past experience, would have charged for both.
  • True, they do vary between dealerships. In general, I like the personal service at the dealership as I've continuously owned Acuras since its inception in 1986. Their estimates have been accurate with no surprises at pick-up. They call for approval if there are additional "needs" beyond the original estimate. And, they wash customer cars.

    However, I've noticed one disturbing trend in the service office. Service writers are now "graded" on the average value of their write-ups. Not just the $$$ amount per "sale," but how much they can "up" the service/repair order with additional services like "power flushes" for engine oil, transmission oil, and coolant. Makes some sense when a car comes in way overdue for maintenance, but I hardly think it's necessary for those who have oil changes every 3000-4000 miles. Seems to be the same kind of pressure sales reps go through.

    And yes, it seems that every region claims that their driving conditions qualify as "severe" and necessitating more frequent service.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    Was the sign in the service waiting area that recommended tranny fluid and filter EVERY 15K MILES regardless of driving conditions. I just laughed my b off on that one. On my truck, severe service is still something like 30K. And the price is steep on that service, like $89 plus parts.
  • Have to go to a honda dealer for some warranty work and to change the timing belt. Called around for pricing on timing belt and the range was huge-from $400 to well over 650. I will hand them a typed list of what I want replaced and also tell them not to remove one bolt or nut that is not part of the process and I want all the belts they remove. I also do a very close inspection of the CV joint boots and tell them I have looked at these boots and that none of them have holes in them-this is a favorite scam-cutting the CV boot.

    Yeah there are good dealers and there are crooks-am almost looking forward to seeing if the dealer I have chosen is a crook. I love a good fight.
  • wtd44wtd44 Posts: 1,211
    We have a Chevy dealer in town that is so bad, I have come to despise the very brand name. Overfilled crankcase; refusal to repair warranty tranny prior to 30 day wait-- with NO loaner car under any circumstance (this leaving me on foot, so to speak), kept car 5 days for warranty body work, lied that it was underway, then decided to refuse to even start... and GM lets these maggots stay in business.
    Would any of this qualify under the title of this thread? BwaHaaaaaaaaaaaaw! >:^<
  • Sometimes it's a fine line.

    Generally, I see no reason to be less than the severe service. The big exception is if their known weaknesses, like transmissions, or sludging.

    Changing Power steering, brake fluid, every 30,000 miles, and changing engine coolant yearly has stopped burned out engines, steering problems, and bad brakes for me.

    But many things are known by specialist mechanics, like changing seals and water pumps at the same time as a timing belt to avoid duplicate labor costs. If these recommendations are not followed, then extra money has to be spent for duplicate labor.

    Other things like CV boots probably need a second opinion.

    Tough call at times. That's why I prefer independent mechanics who have had dealership experience.
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    Power steering and brake fluid yearly , wow. New coolants good for 5 years 100,000 miles and I can see doing service early but on newer cars coolant every 30,000 miles is overkill. Maybe on a 1998 or earlier car but even then questionable. But, if you have the time, money and want completely trouble free running then to each his own
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    Not all new cars have long life coolant. GM, Chrysler (only very recently), and VW are the only manufacturers that I can think of that use long life coolant. Intervals vary widely. Some recommend every 48,000 miles, some 45,000 then every 30,000, and some are still every 30,000 miles.

    How about this for dealership service: I brought my brand new Mazda to get a rattle fixed and a loose seat fixed. While fixing the seat, they broke a piece of plastic on it and SUPERGLUED it back together, discolering the highly visable piece in the process. The rattle has also came back a week after being serviced.

    If they have any class, they should have replaced it with a new one ..... FREE. Have they even acknowledged their liability?
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    Yeah, they did. But it should have never happened in the first place and I shouldn't have had to take it back there. I don't even know how someone could do that and pass it off as dealership quality (oxymoron?) work. This on a BRAND NEW car with 9000 miles. I can just imagine how it happened: "Oh poop, I broke this piece, duh, I think I'll just superglue it because he'll be here at 1:00 to pick it up, he'll never notice"
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    It depends. My saturn dealer had great service, and my BMW dealer seems quite good too.

    Our saab dealer? Poking them with a sharp stick is too kind.

  • The first couple times I had oil changes for my Camry it was overfilled. Now I wonder if they even did the oil change because the car smokes on start up and it only has 65000 miles. With lots of people changing oil at 3000 miles this seems like it would be scam to just skip a couple. I service busses on my part time job the people who check and add fluid aren't the smartest. Somes days it is skipped. Some days they add an extra quart so they don't have to check it the next day.

    Dealers have to pay for that big building and all those service writers standing around.

    I have been ripped offf more by the dealer than any of the independants.

    What really annoys me is overfills and various hoses and clamps left disconnected. If they can't do the simple stuff you know not to go there for anything important.
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    Especially on the ATF as the dealer's mechanics simply do not wish to take the time to drive the car 10 miles as required to heat it up and check it. I have had this overfilled so many times (they should measure how much is drained out but again, too much time) that I now do it myself. The service reps should do this as after the AM rush of writing orders for the day they sit and do nothing. However, I tried to get them to do it at a Mercury dealer, his response was, "THAT IS NOT MY JOB" Haven't been back there since.

    Service reps are useless and worst then whores, they switch dealers, brands etc at the drop of a buck, whores at least require much more money
This discussion has been closed.