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HFmaxi New Reader
11/14/17 6:21 p.m.

seems like you can buy the ball joint pre-installed in a knuckle, mspr would get you close on that. valve cover gaskets from MB list for ~22 each. 

Streetwiseguy UltimaDork
11/14/17 7:23 p.m.
Ovid_and_Flem said:

In reply to Streetwiseguy :

I know you're a shop owner and I don't fault you for making a living.  But a part cost of $600+ for a ball joint that sells openly for $25?  Some markup is fine but 27 times retail?

Two things:. No way on Earth I install a $27.00 ball joint in a Kia, let alone a German car.  Second: the dealer is obliged to sell Mercedes parts.  If someone went to a Mercedes store and got a Rock Auto Chinese ball joint, they would howl with indignation.  

I don't blame you for not wanting to spend that kind of dough.  I just said that repair costs don't go down because the car is old.  

yupididit GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/14/17 7:53 p.m.

Mercedes parts for cars of that vintage are pretty cheap. But, some parts can be found extremely cheap if you buy the "Uro" brand stuff. By the way, never buy URO brand anything!

Snrub Reader
11/14/17 8:17 p.m.

I'm guessing the valve covers themselves are the expensive part?


Service advisors in dealerships are commissioned sales people.  They earn based on their ability to upsell repairs and maintenance.  They don't remain employed long if they only promote what is purely in the customer's best interest.


Labor for the V/C gaskets is 3.5 hours and the ball joint that requires control arm removal is 1.6 hours.  I would assume they are at least $150 or more per hour. So about $800 in labor alone.

Just curious, why would the valve cover gaskets take 3.5 hours?  I googled a picture of the engine bay, it doesn't look terribly unusual...

JoeTR6 HalfDork
11/14/17 8:45 p.m.

I just got my wife's R56 MINI back from the dealer for a brake fluid change.  That wasn't so bad, but they found a thermostat leak, worn LCA bushings, and a bad A/C blower motor.  Those three things ran up to almost $3000 to fix.  I can get the (original MINI) parts from Pelican for around $600.  The dealer wanted over twice that for them, and the labor hours seemed quite exaggerated.  Looks like I'll be wrenching on the MINI soon.

Yeah, dealers suck sometimes.

Ovid_and_Flem Dork
11/14/17 9:52 p.m.

If nothing else dealership service departments create a demand for quality indie shops.wink

Truth be known it was probably their way of telling me they really didn't want to work on old crap cars.surprise

c0rbin9 Reader
11/14/17 11:03 p.m.

Blame all the regulatory overhead. 

nutherjrfan Dork
11/14/17 11:48 p.m.

Lease don't buy?smiley

Ranger50 UltimaDork
11/15/17 1:57 a.m.
Ovid_and_Flem said:

If nothing else dealership service departments create a demand for quality indie shops.wink

Truth be known it was probably their way of telling me they really didn't want to work on old crap cars.surprise

I’ve done that before as a tech... some bite, some don’t.

Old cars in the dealership don’t make any money. The newer ones just out of warranty are killer cash cows as a tech...

Matthew Kennedy
Matthew Kennedy GRM+ Memberand Reader
11/15/17 2:26 a.m.

In reply to Snrub :

It looks like there's quite a bit of stuff in the way of just pulling them off...

And that's with the intake plumbing and plastic covers already removed.

wlkelley3 UltraDork
11/15/17 12:08 p.m.
nutherjrfan said:

Lease don't buy?smiley

There's more truth to that nowadays with higher end cars. Like Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, etc. Only problem I can see is payments never end but all regular maintenance is free. Well, probably included in the payments if you get nit-picky. Trade it for a new model when lease expires. Always have a new car. Daughter does that but she gets a deal working at the local BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche & Volvo dealership. She once had a BMW 3-Series for the same payment as we were paying on SWMBO's new Hyundai Sonata. She's currently driving one of those 500hp Range Rovers.

docwyte SuperDork
11/15/17 1:04 p.m.

I've been pleasantly surprised that the Lexus dealer charges within a few dollars of the local Toyota Indy.  Added benefit is a free loaner from the dealer and a really nice waiting area.   Not such a big deal for me, but my wife definitely appreciates it.

I've taken my Cayenne Turbo to the dealer because with my PCA discount, it costs about the same at the dealer as the local Indy.  Again, I get a free loaner, plus their location is far more convenient for me.  Lastly my friend is the service writer and so is the tech, who also owns a Cayenne Turbo.  Win, win!

pinchvalve MegaDork
11/15/17 1:30 p.m.

 At least your Mother knows you don't think she's worth $3,870.29...LOL

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth MegaDork
11/15/17 1:41 p.m.

I had a guy email me about R63's in Europe. He was looking at two of them, one $15K, one $30K, the difference being about 100K miles. I reminded him that repair cost doesn't care what the car is worth. If it costs $8k for a transmission, it cost $8k whether it's a $15K car or a $30K car.  That's the real deal here. If you had a two year old 10K mile Benz with a bad ball joint and two cracked valve covers you'd be angry that is was broken, but not angry over a $3k repair bill. For a car this age it's flipped on it's head, E36 M3 breaks, so whatever, but paying $3k for it is outrageous.  

The same parts are available online through MB dealers for roughly half of list instead of the list plus that most dealers charge at the counter. Parts availability is actually shockingly good for older cars compared to older American cars. The cars aren't hard to work on. 

Mercedes has been exceptionally nice to me while trying to charge me absurd amounts of money. I always drink a half dozen cups of free coffee, eat two doughnuts and sit in the massaging chair. It helps to ease the pain. 


Opti HalfDork
11/15/17 5:59 p.m.

I was in the auto repair industry for a long time guys, you have to realize they are businesses and they literally only exist to make money, and running a big ass dealership like that isnt cheap.

And comparing a brick and mortar dealership part price to an online off brand is crazy, even when you have the people that sell oem parts like pelican or gm parts direct online they are still WAY cheaper than going to the dealership, its like that way with pretty much all the brands.

Gross profit on auto repair is generally very high, some might even call it obscene, then when you look at the bottom of the p and l statement you see they dont make as much as youd think, it is very expensive to run a proffesional shop like that.

Its literally the techs jobs to check things when doing normal service, it gives him the chance to make more money, and if not after the service people would come back in saying you didnt tell me my tires were bald or my oil was leaking your not doing your job, and if they do, they get, your trying to upselling me and take advantage of an old lady.

Auto industry just catches E36 M3 because costs of parts is easily available information and so many people know a guy, and people have no idea what it costs to run a business.

To put it into perspective, cost on a large soda for a fast food place is about a dime and most of them mark it up 1000 to 2000 percent. Nobody says mcdonals is screwing them because thats not common knowledge,  but everyone knows you can get a ball joint for 9 dollars at autozone

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth MegaDork
11/15/17 6:57 p.m.

In reply to Opti :

But we do complain about soda. Not when we buy a $1.00 can or a $1.89 cup at a restaurant, but when we're faced with buying a $7.50 24oz soda at a ball park we get angry. I'm pretty sure people understand that the extra profits go to operating the ball park, but that doesn't make us feel any less bad about it. People get upset because they have a perception of poor value. I wasn't upset because headbolts were $17 each, I was upset that the dealer was going to charge me $38 each for them. I go to a dealer because I value the knowledge and expertise that comes from working on the same cars day after day. I value the cradle to grave relationship that comes from buying a car new and having it taken care of. What I don't value is unnecessary "recommended" service and inflated parts costs. I don't think anybody does. 

bludroptop UltraDork
11/16/17 4:49 a.m.

True life experience:


Random part...

High quality aftermarket   =  $45

Genuine Volvo MSRP      =  $110

Advertised retail price on local Volvo dealer's website =  $91

Exact same Volvo dealer's Service Department   = $143 + installation + shop charges


... there are four of them on the car.  They adjusted the bill to MSRP, but only after I squawked.

If that's what it takes to stay in business I would get out.  Don't get me started on the BMW store...



NOHOME UltimaDork
11/16/17 6:49 a.m.

I recently spoke with an older gentleman who did not have someone like you to backstop the dealer. Drip at rear brake was over 5k by the time he left. 

FuzzWuzzy New Reader
11/16/17 8:16 a.m.
bludroptop said:

Don't get me started on the BMW store...

What, you don't wanna pay more for blue-dyed coolant?

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
11/16/17 8:39 a.m.

find a good independent.. like Star Motor Service of Charleston SC



Mark57 New Reader
11/16/17 8:03 p.m.

Bought SWMBO a used MB GLK350 two years ago at the auction. Dash display indicated it was due for it's 30,000 mile "service" so I thought sure, I'll call the local Mercedes, Honda, Nissan, Lincoln and who knows what other brand this week dealer. I called to schedule the appt, ask how much and the service advisor quoted a price of $79.00 (requires synthetic oil). I thought that's really a reasonable price so appointment set up for couple of days later. Fast forward two hours and I receive a call from the same service advisor who informs me that on a Mercedes the charge is $199 not $79...... So I ask the million dollar question "what do I get for the extra $120 ??? His reply was "well, you know it takes 8 qts of oil and we lubricate the slides on the sunroof and we do a safety check and, and " followed by 30 seconds of silence. I cordially thanked him for calling me, cancelled the appt. and decided that yes, I would continue to service my own vehicles.

With an oil evacuator it is probably the easiest vehicle I have ever serviced. Top mounted oil cartridge, no need to crawl underneath other than a quick visual to check for leaks, etc.


dropstep SuperDork
11/16/17 9:13 p.m.

People get mad anytime you point out extra issues with there car, we just do fluids but letting someone know they have a leak of somekind or exceedingly worn brakes and tires is usually met with "you just want more money" for services we dont even offer. I cant imagine trying to deal with that in a dealership. 

wspohn Dork
11/19/17 1:10 p.m.

(Waving hand in air) - I have a question - if the dealer was the only one that ever touched the car, exactly who do they think overtightened the cam cover fasteners......

Just for fun when I was working on my old Lamborghini, I priced a couple of parts I needed. 

A set of high tension leads (no special end fittings) were around $750 at a dealer (made them up myself or about $40)

The turn signal switch was several hundred bucks and would take forever to get here from Italy. Researched the OEM Lucas switch and bought the same thing for an Austin 1100 for $50.

Brake light sender had died - they thought around $150 and didn't know when they could get one.  Bought an Austin Healey switch for $20.

But the comment that a dealer must use new factory parts is correct. We had one poor guy that had a warranty claim on his Pontiac Solstice. The electronic module the dealer needed was unavailable (this was after the Japanese tidal wave when all of that sort of thing went onto indefinite back-order). The dealer was unable to source a new factory part and was banned from just odering a used part from a wrecker, so GM bought the car back and crushed it!

Ovid_and_Flem Dork
11/19/17 2:37 p.m.

In reply to wspohn :

To my knowledge the valve covers have never been removed. Apparently stress and vibration develop on the valve covers castings that cause hairline cracks. In the years of my parents ownership I only recall a few little things that were replaced at the dealer. A broken fog light once and replacement of batteries about 5 years ago to the tune of $700.

A little follow-up. We left car with them overnight. They did the oil change and the charge was about $160. When we arrived to pick the car up they had lost the key. We were going to be out of town for a few days so we mailed the spare key to them and they had to deliver the car to my mother 80 miles from the dealership. Why they didn't just program another key and not say anything I do not know. But they supposedly are replacing the key for it.

dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/20/17 7:07 a.m.

If a dealer lost a key I would want a bit more than a new key. I would always be suspicious that the key was taken to steal the car at a later date. How does a dealer loose a key?  

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