Dealer vs. independent shop?



  • snarkssnarks Member Posts: 207
    You doubt things quite a bit. I used the database three times in different areas when moving to new areas and no one to ask and looked for a stellular stand out. I have had good luck each time. There are some negative comments with the DB also so I seriously doubt a mechanic first is going to waste their time on an online db anyway (ok maybe a few). The best way is asking however. Actually the best way to scope one out is to have your oil changed and maybe some minor other minor work. See if you like the shop.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    And your point is??
    At first your post seems to disgaree with me, then seems to agree?
    I am not sure I understand what point you are trying to make.
    But hey, if you want to be the one to answer questions, then to be honest, I have much better things to do, so you just have at it.

    You say I doubt things quite a bit. I am a realist. But then again, I have little patience for things that folks try and pass off as actually helpful.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    ZERO PATIENCE kinda says it all.

    I like it.

    I know you have SOME patience or you couldn't do the job you do. I have come to respect you and would use your shop in a heartbeat if you were in my neck of the woods!
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    the road from you, Craig.

    I have ZERO patience for people who make broad, mean generalizations about technicians and shop owners like we saw a few posts back.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    people who make broad, mean generalizations about technicians and shop owners like we saw a few posts back

    Was that me?
    Sorry if it was. I'm not sure it was directed at me, but if it was, I surely didn't mean to have any post come off like that.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    not you - I meant the megative comments made by the person you were talking with (snarks).
  • snarkssnarks Member Posts: 207
    What mean generalization did I make? I recommended a resource as a potential source of information thats all and you disagree, so be it.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    It was me who called that one, not 0patience - I noted your comments:

    "Independants can be very good or even worse"

    "There are some negative comments with the DB also so I seriously doubt a mechanic first is going to waste their time on an online db anyway (ok maybe a few)."

    You do realize that your talking with a current, outstanding shop owner (0patience) and two former service managers (isell and myself) - why the negative comments in a forum where you're asking technicians and shop owners questions?
  • snarkssnarks Member Posts: 207
    I still don't get it, but apologize and mean no bad feelings. Carry on with a good board.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    I'll vote for the solution proposed by 0patience clear back in post #2. I've never really gotten past the added expense that doing business with the dealers entails. I don't see their services as being more valuable than the same work being done at independent shops.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    who did an excellent job of cleaning up the calipers and lubing the slides, changing the pads, and roughing up the rotors. had to replace the right rear because the pad wore out early down past rivets.

    but that's all the tech did. missing two bulged front brake hoses, and the rusted-shut e-brake cable that caused the right rear pad to burn up in the first place and kill the rotor. found that out five days later, after some freeway and stop-and-go, when I got back in after a look through the home center for something, and the pedal went to the floor when I was ready to shift out of park.

    the rest was found by a service station mechanic and nicely corrected.

    the omissions were lazily slept through by a dealer tech, in a dealer where I've had good service in the past.

    so I called the service advisor, told him that God did more for my fiancee and I that weekend than they did, and they left $360 on the table to boot.

    moral: although anybody can screw up, take your good wrenchpersons where you find 'em, and say thanks when they're done.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    But, how often does a brake hose go bad? I've owned, literally, dozens and dozens of cars including some real oldies and I've NEVER ONCE had to replace a brake hose!
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Look at any late 80's - mid 90's GM full size and chances are as least one front hose is cracked where the metal support tab is crimped on to support it to the front strut. Ford rear hoses with rear disc like to collapse internally, creating a check valve which causes a wheel brake to drag after the pedal's released.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    I've heard of this "check valve" effect for years and I know it **can** happen. I've just never seen it.

    In all of the time I managed a very busy shop I think we MAY have replaced two brake hoses.

    Of course, that was before the late 80's early 90's GMcars you mentioned.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    Maybe the upcoming electric brake systems (brake by wire) will be the end of the hose problems. Then, we will fear wiring failures...
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I am going to slide underneath and squeeze my rear hoses tomorrow on my fine ford exploder. even though the amoco guy found all the stuff the dealer missed, I have one hair sticking straight up on the back of my neck now.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    We've run into more internally restricted hoses on FWD's. There's been some speculation that it's caused by hacks allowing the calipers to hang from the flex hoses when servicing the brakes.

    Easy way to tell: jack up the vehicle, trans in neutral, check each wheel for rotation. Depress and release the brake pedal, then recheck for rotation. If there's a restricted flex hose, you'll know it.
  • wtd44wtd44 Member Posts: 1,211
    ...and after the vehicle sits a while, a restricted hose will allow bleed-back, and some degree of free wheeling will return. Correct?
  • gregoryc1gregoryc1 Member Posts: 766
    If you have a good dealer, stay with the dealer for all your repairs and mintenance needs. First, you get factory quality parts for the given repair. Second, if there is a "service issue" that is under warranty, they can take care of it easily. Third, if you have an extended warranty, any repair under the terms of this contact can be handled easily. Fourth, all your service records are in one place. Aftermarket parts might not be of the same quality as factory parts. I would not let a dealer install any aftermarket parts on our vehicles! We purchased Honda vehicles, because of Honda quality! We want to keep our vehicles ALL HONDA!
  • gregoryc1gregoryc1 Member Posts: 766
    If a vehicle has 100,000 miles on the clock, I think the brake hoses should be changed, (just as a safety issue)!
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Yep. To verify it, locate the dragging brake then crack open the bleeder (if it'll loosen). If the wheel turns freely now you've found the restricted hose.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I'm a little oversubscribed at the moment, but will check it out.

    I have yet to come across a bleeder that I can't get loose fairly easily, but then, I assume they will be rusted or corroded in. so I drool a little penetrating oil on the threads, tap the thing for a minute or two, and use a box wrench on it. as soon as it moves the slightest bit, out comes the anhydrous isopropyl alcohol to wash all the evil, polluting oil away from the system. a drip or two of brake fluid on the threads before attaching the hose into the drain bottle or mityvac, and I am ready to open the bleeder for business. I also bleed the devils to death as well, so if a couple molecules got past the threads, they're likely to be sucked right out before they can rot rubber in the brake system.
  • un-limitedun-limited Member Posts: 15
    I recently purchased a 2001 Jeep GC and a Chrysler MaxCare Extended Warranty. Can the required maintenance be done at independents without voiding the warranty or must I take it to the dealer to play it safe ?

  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    You will have to read the terms of the warranty contract. Some contracts allow for any shop to do the work and you call for authorization, then the shop contacts them and goes thru them.
    Other contracts, mostly OEM contracts, state that an OEM dealer must do the work.

    It will all depend on what the contract actually states in it.
    Best to contact the contract company and ask.

    If you are asking if oil changes and standard servicing must be done at the dealer, than I don't know of any contract that forces you to use the dealer for that. In fact, you should be able to change the oil yourself, if you want. As long as you document it, you should be ok. But check with the warranty company, as they could sneak different terms in the contract.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    strictly to maintenance items, and yes, any independent shop can do your maintenance. The real issue is to get it DONE and save your repair orders, should there ever be a question, like in the case of an engine or transmission failure.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Your saved RO's should have a date, mileage and a person's name on them, and be legible and detailed. INSIST on it!
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17
    I would only use dealer service if it was a warranty repair. A local shop that has ASE mechanics is great to have. You can develop a good relatinoship with the shop. service writers work on commission!

    Just a side note...for those of you that go to Wal-Mart for oil changes, most of the folks there are just kids and are not trained to find any real problems with the cars.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    " service writers work on commission!"

    I'm a private shop fan, but I've been a dealership service manager - do you think private shops don't make a profit and care about added sales and increased income?
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17

    No disrespect intended to dealer service. I'm sure the ind shops make their money too. Sometimes it's nice to deal directly with the mechanic instead of a service writer. I have never been upsold at a ind shop. Example,

    I drive a company car, 2000 Intrepid. One of the cooling fans went out and needed to be replaced. Local dealer wanted 800 for the part and as much in labor. They wanted to replace the entire fan shroud and both fans. Called my trusty ind shop and they told me that they could replace the fan motor with an oem replacement for a total of 320 parts and labor. They did in less than one day for the quoted price.

    So if my opinion of dealer service is not so high, I guess I have my reasons.

    I know that a small town dealer will treat you very differently that a high volume big city outfit. So there are some good dealer service depts out there, but not my first choice.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    I guess that depends on your definition of being upsold. If a shop is so "mom and pop" that they don't know to recommend maintenance items, which preserve your vehicle and generate profit for the shop, they won't last long, or will at best make a very meager income. These upsellings also preclude them from being sued in our litigious society when something breaks and you think they should have recommended maintenance to prevent it.

    I consider it your mechanic's duty, whether he be a dealer tech or Joe down at Joe's garage, to make sure you're aware of whatever maintenance needs your car has. If they don't they're failing miserably, and I equate that blinder wearing attitude to a doctor who would treat you for one problem, but ignore another. Certainly not in the best interest of your health, and I'd find a new doctor.

    The fan motor repair you described? There could be several reasons for the difference - most shops use Chilton's or Mitchell's, and if the dealer guy quoted you for replacing the whole double fan assembly I could see the difference.

    By the way, replacing both fans is not a bad idea, since if one fails, the other's probably not far behind it! I guess your guy was more interested in beating the dealer's quote and getting a little bit of money in the shop instead of considering the true longevity of the car - his first priority.

    That's typical of less sucessful private shops - put a band-aid on the problem instead of doing a proper repair.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Some folks just can't stand the thought of tossing a working part into the trash, even if it shows considerable wear. And I fully understand that.

     I need a car that's 100% reliable, and so I'm more likely to bite the bullet and swap out a functioning part because it is over on mileage. I don't need to know exactly how long a BMW timing belt would last. And if, for instance, I'm hearing a little squeak out of my alternator pulley bearing, it's outta there. I don't want to be stuck in Nevada somewhere.

    I suppose some dealers pile it on, and of course a person should not slavishly do everything a service writer tells you to do, but if the factory engineers say to change the belts at 60K or flush the trans at 30K, I'm apt to believe them. Of course I know it might be a bit "premature", but I'd rather stay on the low end of the failure probability curve than the high end.

    I go to a private shop if I can't fix something myself, but I also bring the car in every Spring and Fall and tell them to find things wrong and call me and we'll talk.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    people want to drive their cars until they fall apart, without considering real maintenance (not just oil changes), then gripe when their ride breaks.

    We Americans are spoiled and many us us have taken up the full time hobby of whining and complaining...if that's what you want to do, then strand your family on a trip and tell your war story when you get back to work.

    My family looks to me to make sure the vehicles are as good as they can get - I'm not overly obsessive, but I certainly know that spending an extra $100 now to install a new alternator (as you referenced), can easily save me a breakdown (4 hours hassle from the wife), a tow bill ($100-300, depending), having some shop work on my car where I don't know them and they can charge what they want ($500?), plus a delay in our vacation and loss of a vacation day, etc.

    I like the idea of being a hero by preventing stuff like that, intead of being a hero by paying $1000 extra on vacation to get the car fixed...
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17

    Replacing both fans at the ind would have cost me about 600 instead of the dealer's price of over 1200.

    "That's typical of less sucessful private shops - put a band-aid on the problem instead of doing a proper repair."

    This is not a less successful shop. I said this is a company car, so they are not going to pay for something that is not broken. Even if you replace both fans, there is no need to replace the shroud. The shop did not know what the dealer quoted, so they did not want to beat the price. In regards to upselling...

    Prime example is when someone goes in for a basic oil change and the "tech" wants to charge 20 bucks for an air filter. I can go and get one myself for half the price.

    Also, the ind shop told me they found a slow coolant leak on the thermostat housing and reccomended replacement of the gasket.

    Why pay more for a qualified mechanic to replace the same oem part that the dealer would charge twice as much for?

    Like I said before, I'm sure there are some good dealer service depts, but here in the city, the dealers are just a volume house.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    "Prime example is when someone goes in for a basic oil change and the "tech" wants to charge 20 bucks for an air filter."

    Please tell me how this is a problem.

    My mom passed away at 83 last year, but was driving right up until her death. I don't think she was qualified or able to change the air filter in her Ford Escort, so since I haven't lived in TX for 4 years and couldn't help her with it, she has to pay the Wal-Mart or Jiffy Lube guy to do it.

    I'd frown on an able-bodied man or woman paying $20 for the installation of a $10 air filter, too! Also, a good owner who is knowledgable about how to maintain his vehicle should never deal with the humiliating experience of a Jiffy Lube kid pointing out that you've neglected your car! If I had missed the dirty air filter during my normal look-over, I'd want to crawl under a rock if the mechanic caught it.
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17
    "Please tell me how this is a problem"

    It's a problem when someone tells you that your car needs something that it does not. I don't think this is a frequent problem, but it happens.

    I totally agree with you. We both know more about cars than the average person, but the tech at the lube mart doesn't know that. I find it kind of insulting (as I'm sure you do) when a kid half my age tells me I need an air filter and wipers when I know darn well that I keep up with maintaining those items. Once had a jiffy lube try to sell me a serpentine belt for 60 bucks. I had replaced it the week before. He had no reply when I told him that.

    Just a side note...

    I find it crazy that my father (who taught me about cars) now pays 50 bucks for a syn oil change that he could do himself or I could do for about 30.

    Also, it's nice to know that there are people out there who still perform regular maintainance on their cars.
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17
    one more thing,

    I'm sure you feel this way. For example, my wife goes to get her oil changed. She calls me from the shop with a laundry list of items that the tech tells her she needs. How many of these does she really need? True story...she has a 5 speed and a tech told her she needs a tranny flush. We had just recently had the clutch serviced and the fluid was fine. Just hate to see some shops take advantage of people who do not know about cars. Good discussion.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Hold on.
    How do YOU know it doesn't need these things?
    Because they aren't yet broken????

    Let me explain something to you.....
    Let's say that you come to me to have a part replaced. AFTER I do some diagnostics, which I will charge you for, cause I'm not taking your word for it, I will replace the part.
    Now I am going to charge you for the diagnostics, the labor and I am going to charge you X amount of dollars. For the sake of arguement, let's say I am charging you $89.99 for the part.
    But then, you find out that you can buy the part over the counter for $62.99.

    So now you aren't happy, because you think I ripped you off. But let's see, I had to have my parts runner go get the part. So add his time. I had to put my money out on the part, so add my interest lost. The parts runner used my vehicle and my fuel to get the part, so add that too.
    And I had to buy special tools to install or remove some of those parts.
    So, I made $20 on the part, but it cost me about $22 to get the part. Who got ripped off??

    But you say the shop you are dealing with stocks the parts or has them delivered? See the interest part above. Also now he is paying for someone to inventory and keep track of those parts.

    But you want to know why I wouldn't just replace the part and want to charge you for the diagnosis?
    Because DIYers make mistakes and don't always know what they are doing. So, to keep you from screaming when the part you wanted installed doesn't fix it, I do the diagnostics and replace the CORRECT part.

    Also, I find it crazy that my father (who taught me about cars) now pays 50 bucks for a syn oil change that he could do himself or I could do for about 30.

    So figure out his labor and add it to the $30 and see what you come up with.
    Anytime you think you are saving money, time yourself on your DIY repair and then multiply it by what you think you are worth, add your electric bill, hand cleaner, degreasers, rags/towels and the tools you had to buy and then are you really saving money?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think anyone who tells you a part needs to be replaced should be able to clearly explain why. In the case of a serpentine belt, either a) pointing to the belt and showing the defect or b) pointing to the factory manual that recommends replacement at a certain mileage.

    As for price, I pay for how I'm treated as well as for the part. If somebody finds a dirty air filter in my car, shows it to me, replaces it quickly, doesn't get greasy fingerprints all over the fenders and puts a paper dust mat on the floor of the car before he drives it to the waiting area, I'll pay an extra $10 for that, sure.

    People seem to bemoan more and more the end of "Mom and Pop" stores and "father and son" repair shops but they are often the same people who will drive out of town to save that $10 at Wal-Mart.
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17

    I guess you told me.

    I will now pay someone to do everything to maintain my truck. I won't even wash it because I don't want to use the wrong soap. I will believe everything the tech tells me and pay whatever they want without question. If he tells me to replace the muffler belt or blinker fluid flush, I guess I should pay. After all, what to I know about cars? Not as much as an ASE master tech, but enough to make many repairs myself.

    I do appreciate a good mechanic....and have one.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    It kills me to count how many times people have come to me at the service drive with a pre-diagnosed problem that their friend, "who is a mechanic", diagnosed. 99 times out of 100, it isn't even close, and come to find out, their "mechanic" took high school shop 18 years ago and knows how to replace spark plugs.

    I'm not going to speak for Mr Shiftright, but I do understand what he's saying - quality of work, quality of diagnosis, and competence are big points with me.

    For someone who isn't an automotive expert, a good shop owner is priceless -
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think a lot of this depends on life style, age, etc as well. Twenty years ago I was more than willing to crawl under my car and change the oil or bust my knuckles on suspension work. Now, if I can make $50 an hour doing something productive and pay someone else that $25 to change my oil, I'd rather do that. But that's just me.

    I'd rather take on projects where I can REALLY save some money, and oils and filters aren't one of them in my opinion.

    Now if my power window fails, I'm in there tearing it apart because that's a $300-$400 job.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    So, do you really think your father at his stage in life should be crawling under a car to change his oil?

    I gave up that PITA job years ago for the exact reasons Opatience stated!
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17
    He is not that old. Just that some of my best memories as a young man were spending weekends with my dad under the hood of a car. He showed me how to take care of a car. I would be happy to change his oil for him. After all, he showed me how to 30 something years ago. I don't know how I will be at that age. Hope to still be able to change oil!
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17
    I completely agree. A good shop owner is priceless. I would gladly pay more for a qualifield tech to do the work as opposed to an amateur shade tree shop. I would never accept a diagnosis over the phone, or from someone who "knows about cars."

    Your relationship with your mechanic is priceless.
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17
    Aw come on...good sarcasam is priceless! So is a good sense of humor!

    I completely agree. A good shop owner is priceless. I would gladly pay more for a qualifield tech to do the work as opposed to an amateur shade tree shop. I would never accept a diagnosis over the phone, or from someone who "knows about cars."

    Your relationship with your mechanic is priceless.
  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,692
    because it's not, but if you took a chance to get to know Mr Shiftright, his qualifications, and immense involvement in the automotive industry, you'd show more respect, I'd think.
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17
    I will respect anyone's opinion. I respect your opinion too. I think that most of our opinions are based on our experiences. Like I said before, I agree with both of your postings. But those who do not know about cars should sometimes be skeptical of some shops who will try to take advantage of them. I'm sure that whatever you do, you do it honestly. This is a fourm to share our opinions. If you are an expert in a certian field, I would definately listen to your opinion.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Before you continue the sarcasm, read the rules of this forum.

    I was just trying to explain how things work.
    You don't have to get snotty about it.

    If you are an expert in a certian field, I would definately listen to your opinion.
    As for my qualifications, I don't think I need to say anything about that. I have spent many years and countless thousands of my own dollars, along with dozens of other mechanics, on helping folks with automotive problems.

    After all, he showed me how to 30 something years ago.
    Vehicles are alot different than 30 years ago.
    There are vehicles out now, that you cannot add transmission fluid without a scantool.

    As for the "father & son" shops, I am very proud to say that my son, 16 years old and knows more than alot of certified mechanics, does alot of the main work in our shop. And would you believe that there are folks now that when I say I don't have time to get to it, will ask if he does?
    There have been times that we will try and turn away work, only to end up doing it anyway.
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17
    I am anything but snotty. I know that cars have changed in the past 30 years. However some things such as changing oil, air filters and replacing some parts are still basically the same. I would never take on a project that should be done by a pro. I know that some cars require a scantool to perform maintainence. Kudos to you for your qualifications. No sarcasm.

    I hope you and your son are successful in your business. It is rare to see a family business. Good luck.
  • love_my_trucklove_my_truck Member Posts: 17
    And back to the topic at hand...

    Would you say your service is better than that of a dealer? I would think so since your customers have a personal relatinship with you and your son. At leat we can agree on that?
This discussion has been closed.