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Dealer vs. independent shop?



  • Yep!

    A MODiC 3 (Factory Scanner) from BMW was $14,000 7 years ago.. 4 years ago you needed to upgrade to the GT1 for $17,500 now the new G3 setup is coming out for $30k+
  • We bought a Saab 900se brand new and had dealer maintenance throughout it's warranty. After the warranty our habit is to let the car stay in the livery just as long as it doesn't strand us anywhere - one stranding and it's turned in to whoever wants it.

    We were delighted to see it go through 100k miles with just minor problems and then it finally happened. It was dying at lights... Whenever you hit a point where the car had to idle - a stop sign or a light, the engine would sputter and quit. We figured this was a good time to give it one last dealership visit (a selling point to a buyer) and remedy this stalling problem.... They couldn't fix it... This was a dealership with a seasoned Saab mechanic too. Parts were flying and diagnostics were hooked up... At one point they thought they would have to rip out a circuit board!

    They finally gave up, refunded most of our money and said it was good for salvage if we wanted to try that route.

    We told a friend the story and he HOWLED obscenities towards that dealership saying things like "those idiots couldn't fix a flat tire that still had air in it!". He urged us to take it to a local rural mechanic he knew.

    The car was fixed in minutes... It was a simple evap purge valve that got clogged up. I asked him why the dealership didn't see it and he said the "kids" there are not mechanics - they're technicians, they want to plug junk in and make machines go beep. I laughed and told him that I had remarked to the "kids" at the dealership that it seemed like fuel or air delivery and they just scoffed at me saying it was electronic.

    I would specify the name of the dealership but I don't know if it's against forum rules. Let's just say that I live in South Central PA in the York/Lancaster area and leave it at that.... After events like this, sometimes I think the Amish are doing it right with their lifestyle.....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    It's not the machines' fault of course. A diagnostic machine is utterly useless to those who don't know how to read it, and a great tool in the hands of the right person.

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  • It sure does depend on who you get to look at your car or vehicle. I have been so dissatisfied over the years with various mechanics. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to get something (even minor) fixed. I started looking into auto mechanics as a side hobby and found that there might be money in it after all. Needing to rely on someone and it might as well be me, or at least someone I know of that has the education part of the automotive world.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    It's a decent living if you get into the right shop with the right boss, etc. But it is a young man's work, and there is the danger of monotony unless you branch out later in your career. I think the pinnacle of an automotive mechanics' career would be to build custom, hi-tech vehicles. Check out this shop I visited:

    As for dissatisfaction with the work you get, here again it's a matter of proper training and lack of licensing and apprenticeship.

    A friend of mine was approached by a gentleman in his Masons Lodge I guess it was. Wanted his son to apprentice at my friend's Rolls Royce/Bentley restoration shop.

    So my friend said: "Sure okay. That will cost you $1,500 a month"

    The man was shocked. What, I pay YOU to have my son work for you?

    He replied: "Well you'd easily pay that for a college education wouldn't you?"

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    Yes, it is a young man's job.

    It is very rare to see someone still working the line after about age 50. It takes a toll on the body.
  • sam89sam89 Posts: 1
    Go to the independent, dealers service departments inflate the price and stay away from Stokes-Trainor Ford they are just thieves and incompetent.
  • Well, let me start from the beginning, my 2005 Dodge Ram overheated and broke on the way to Monterrey, Mexico. we were in the middle of nowhere 22 miles into laredo so we had the truck towed to a mechanic shop and it was our water pump, he fixed it. the truck drove perfectly fine to monterrey and back home to san antonio, texas. during the next two weeks, the truck was fine. On my way to a doc appt sat morning, the truck overheated again and died in the middle of the street so i led it slide into the first parking spot i saw. one of our friends towed it to Ancira Dodge, san antonio, texas but it was closed so he towed me home. Within the next two or three days i called a tow truck and had it towed to Ancira Dodge, San Antonio, Texas. They put it on their diagnostic machine and are charging me 78.00 for that to find out that it was my radiator and it would cost 440.00 because it was not covered under warranty. so that was a big money blow to me but i said fine. Then this serviceman calls to tell me that the radiator blew a gasket and could have blown a head so the estimate was now around 2140.00. They did not call me during the next three days so i called them because i needed my truck fixed. So i tell this man that i am a DJ which we do as a hobby and he sees dollar signs in his eyes. He says, oh that 2140 was just an estimate, if the head is cracked you are looking at thousands more. then he calls to tell me that the heads are fine and they will have the truck ready by Wednesday. Then thursday comes around and he calls and says , we put the truck back together but it is still leaking water from the motor so now it is your short block and you are looking at 6000.00 and that is just an estimate. WOW!. these servicemen get around 10% commission on service jobs. so the short block is not covered under warranty either. :(

    please comment back and let me know if i have a chance fighting this, this is a 2005 dodge ram still new. 41,000 miles. it has a 70,000 mile power train warranty.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,622
    these servicemen get around 10% commission on service jobs.
    Don't blame it on the mechanics.
    As for the problem, you are pretty much on your own.

    I've said this before.............................................
    When ever you get an estimate that doesn't seem right, call around and ask other shops for estimates on the problem. A lot will tell you that they would have to look at it, but ask them for an estimate on the same job you were quoted.
    Remember that cheapest isn't always best.

    Now, as far as your vehicle right now,
    If the powertrain warranty is 70k miles and you have less than that and it is with in the age limit of the warranty, then I can't see how they couldn't cover it.
    Call them again and explain that your vehicle should be under the warranty and that you will be discussing the problem with your attorney if they don't want to cover the warranty.

    Be prepared to seek consultation with an attorney.
  • Similar story now from somebody else. The dealership had a "We'll take it from here..." attitude with parts flying all over the place and diagnostics.... Couldn't find a "complex diagnostic situation coming - might be time to trade it in" turned out to be..... and the winner is..... (opening envelope).....

    JUST ANOTHER CLOGGED PURGE VALVE! Discovered by local country mechanic. Seventy bucks.

    We're starting to wonder if this Saab dealership's maintenance dept. is in cahoots with the sales department..... Pretty sad.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    "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 Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    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?.

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  • 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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