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z31maniac MegaDork
11/6/17 4:01 p.m.
Apis Mellifera said:

Call me cynical, but I don't trust most people in sales or service industries.  Whether due to negligence, incompetence, or out right malicious intent, I've had this opinion reinforced too many times to be paranoia.  Of course, I work for the government and have hired a lot of contactors from various trades, often for a lot of money and usually for the lowest bid, so expectations are low anyway.

One time though while in my civies, I rented a tow dolly from U-Haul.  I went to pick it up and the guy tried (unsuccessfully) to upsell the insurance several times.  When he was hooking it up, he asked when the last time I towed something with my truck.  I thought that was an odd question, but I answered.  He smiled and looked at his coworker standing beside him.  Cut to 20 minutes later and I'm doing 70 on the highway.  The dolly bounced on a bridge expansion joint and came off the hitch (so I thought).  After the dolly whipped from side to side several times on the safety chains, nearly breaking traction on the truck's rear end, I finally got it stopped.  When I went back to inspect what happened, I found the ball still clamped as usual in the dolly hitch.  The nut had come off the ball.  Either it was just on a few threads or not on at all or the U-Haul guy removed it.  Either way, I suspect he knew it was loose, which is why he asked that odd question.

I also just had a guy charge my wife $70 to peel off the window tint on the two front windows of our Dodge Caravan.  Because "it was 17%".  It took him less than 5 minutes.

If you're sure the blower was plugged in before the service, I'd absolutly call them on it.


Doesn't trust people in sales or service industries because "negligence, incompetence, or out right malicious intent," but works for the government. HA!


ClemCougarSparks PowerDork
11/6/17 6:02 p.m.
iceracer said:

I have always like taking my '13 Fiesta for work.  How ever I had a bad experience, it had to do with pricing.

I found that I had a leaking rear shock.  I contemplated replacing it myself so I looked up prices.   After looking at the top mount I thought I would pay to have it replaced.   Made an appointment. Took it in. short job so I will wait.   First the adviser tells me they don't have the shock in stock and it will take a couple hours.   So I wait.  When I am cashing out, the invoice says $109 for the shock.   I mentioned this seemed high.   So went home and printed out a page from the Ford website, showing the shocks for $75.  Then I noticed that they used an after market shock, not a genuine Ford part.  NAPA has them for $66. So I went back with my information.   After the SA and the parts guy had a couple discussions I was offered a free oil change. No thanks, I do my own.   I said, just give me a refund to mach the Ford price, done.   I probably could have gone further .   At least all of this is on a Ford site that they ask about my service experience.   I wonder how far it will go.

On a tangent to this...I think it's important for all to realize that shops (dealers and independents) MAKE PROFIT on the parts they sell.  If they don't, they won't be around long and you'll need to find another professional to repair your vehicle.  

I've always been the guy who buys his own parts and fixes his own car.  And that's no problem...but if you bring it to a shop, they are there to repair your car with parts they source (and therefore stand behind a warranty for).  

Most shops won't let you carry in your own parts.  Some will let you and they have a higher labor rate as a tradeoff (and then if a part you bought fails, they'll charge you to put the next one in too).  

I'm still a tightwad and I still don't like to pay other people to work on my cars.  But now that I'm in the industry, I realize that part of the cost of having someone else fix it is the increases cost of parts (and if its a good shop the parts will be good quality and they'll have a warranty on labor as well).

docwyte SuperDork
11/7/17 8:41 a.m.

Shops shouldn't charge more than retail for the parts.  Where they should be making their money on parts is the cost differential between wholesale pricing (that they can get) and retail pricing (that the customer can get and should be charged).

I understand that now with the interwebz we can get much closer to wholesale pricing on parts but shops still shouldn't be charging more than retail...

SVreX MegaDork
11/7/17 12:43 p.m.

In reply to docwyte :

I agree with you. In theory. 

In practice, it's much more difficult for virtually every industry to make the distinction between retail and wholesale clear. 

There used to be retail, wholesale, and high volume wholesale pricing. As consumers have pushed harder (mostly because of the internet), businesses have had to make the delineations more vague in order to have something left that resembles profit. 

Some businesses are better at masking it than others. 

ClemCougarSparks PowerDork
11/7/17 3:00 p.m.

I am relatively unique (and fortunate, in my opinion) in that I only sell parts to professionals (no "retail").  I am told by my customers on a regular basis that they are upset that their customers can buy the same parts from their suppliers (my competitors) with no significant price difference.  

Most of the auto parts suppliers sell to professionals and to DIYers.  What SVreX just said seems congruent to what my customers are telling me.

What shops "should" and "should not" do is all a matter of opinion.  My opinion (based on some real conversations with real business owners) is that if the shops aren't making money, we won't have competent service providers for long.  Maybe that means we pay more for labor.  Maybe it means we pay the same labor rate we pay now but a higher price than we can buy our own parts.  It will all be funded by the end user.

Come to think of it...General Contractors (for building houses) are pretty transparent on this.  They just tack on a "Contractor Fee" of a certain percentage for every subcontractor they bring in.


4cylndrfury MegaDork
11/7/17 3:15 p.m.
dean1484 said:

The flip side is when you find a good shop promote it....

Agreed - I vote for Spradlin Auto in Sharonville Ohio (too bad theyre Import only...Id love to keep them in mind for the Cruze)

I took my SR20 powered Infiniti G20 in once upon a time because I was sure I had a rear main seal leak - oil drip was steadily getting worse over a short period of time, and you could see a lot of oil in that area dripping down toward the pan. I expected a repair bill in the hundreds and a few days on the operating table. After 10 min of diagnostics (5 of which was getting it on the lift...factory mud flaps), Im told its a pressure switch seal that had failed. It was a $60 part, and only 15 min repair time.

$88 later, and I was on my way home to park in the garage again (was banished to the driveway with a pan underneath due to the leak). They took care of it while I was there. They've also proven ridiculously honest for a few of my aging/non-car-wise family members as well.

Cant say enough good things about them

egnorant SuperDork
11/8/17 10:23 a.m.

Sabotage happens! We hear of the attempts that don't fool us and wonder about the ones that do. Took a car in for new tires and the manager called me out to look at something. He grabbed the left front tire while on the lift and yanked it up and down to show me a thumping that was a bad ball joint. He did not know that I had just replaced the steering rack 2 weeks earlier and had pulled the subframe and replaced all the bushings, ball joints, motor mounts, tie rod ends, shocks and such while I was there. Plus I upgraded to a larger front sway bar...yadda, yadda...the front end on this car was first rate and I knew it! He had loosened the upper strut bolts to make it clank. I wondered why my hood was up for just a tire change and being on a lift I could not see into the engine compartment. Since they had not even started on the tires I told them to drop the car off the lift. Some noise was made about I would need to sign a disclaimer about driving an unsafe car and I had to exit the shop before operating the lift but I just repeated "Drop the car".  Thing got a little tense and I calmly explained my position and could have a police officer and a TV reporter there quickly and am fully prepared to stand in this exact spot until the car was lowered so I could see the exact condition under the hood either before or after these folks showed up. They lowered the car, I grabbed a very convenient 13mm Snap-on ratcheting wrench that I found under the hood, tightened the upper strut mount bolts, pocketed the wrench (not mine, never saw it before) while waiting for someone to accuse me of stealing their wrench, slammed the hood, checked my lug nuts, kicked the arms out of the way and drove off. As a parting shot I announced loudly that I was taking my business elsewhere, would spread the word of their scamming ways, and challenged someone to claim the wrench and expose themselves as a thief! Silence from the whole crew.

Got many rants like this with silly names like "6 gallons of $49 a gallon of antifreeze fits WHERE?" and "Did you not see the package for the brand new wipers I installed "LITERALLY" in your parking lot before telling me I need wipers to pass inspection?".


I may just be paranoid, but I will check when I can to make sure that my money is given to people who earn it.



In reply to egnorant :

Well, go ahead and out the shop by name and location!!! Nosey GRM minds want to know!

DeadSkunk UberDork
11/8/17 3:57 p.m.

I had a local quick oil change place show me "your filthy air filter". Unfortunately for the young man I had stopped at the parts store for a new filter on the way to the oil change. The filter in the housing had less than 5 miles on it. The rep and the store manager were both asked pointed questions at that point. The oil change was suddenly "no charge". I kept a smile on my face throughout the whole episode, but I've never been back and I've shared my experience with dozens of people.

Conversely, the local shop I use for repairs that I can't be bothered with did the front brakes on my Astro, but didn't do the rear as I had told them to. Their opinion was it was good for thousands more miles. I use them , and recommend them regularly for doing  things like this. Do they charge more for parts than the parts would cost me? Yes, but then I'd be freezing my butt off doing the repairs in the driveway. They have to make a living ,too.

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/8/17 5:12 p.m.

The guy who did the work of replacing the engine in my Disco is one of those people. I went to him when my Father's girlfriend recommended him because he manages to keep her elderly volvo 740 running.


After the work he did (and charged me 25 hours OVER the book time of 15 hours, even though I supplied everything he might need to be careful about removing) I had nothing but problems. The biggest was an oil leak I developed about two weeks after getting the truck back. Discovered it was loose/missing bolts holding the oil pan on. There were about 7 left. When asking other mechanics about him, I get the "I can't say anything bad about him, but I can't say anything good either". He basically does just enough work to get you out the door so you return in a month or so with some other issue.


Now I know why her volvo is always in a state of barely running

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
11/8/17 5:31 p.m.

Just a quick note as someone who moves a lot and has had amazing success finding mechanics.  


The secret is: https://www.cartalk.com/mechanics-files


Yup.. it's out.  I use it and it's never let me down across many states and time zones.

egnorant SuperDork
11/8/17 7:33 p.m.
WildScotsRacingCampbellCougarSeed said:

In reply to egnorant :

Well, go ahead and out the shop by name and location!!! Nosey GRM minds want to know!

Big 5 Tire and Auto in Longview Texas. 1701A NW Loop 281.

I do know they got a new crew since then but I still stay away.

I used to like them because, when they advertised a tire price, the price was the tire plus tax where other places would add on a bunch of charges that nearly doubled the price.





Boost_Crazy HalfDork
11/9/17 11:38 p.m.

I've had a shop lie/sabotage my car during a smog check. Twice. They told me the EGR valve was bad and needed to be replaced on my Galant VR4. The look on the guys face was priceless when I pulled a vacuum pump and the service manual out of the trunk. This wasn't the first time or first car or first shop where I failed a smog check due to a "bad" EGR valve that fixed itself when I checked it. But this time I was ready and tested it right in front of him and it worked as designed. He apologized, said the tech must have made a mistake. The car went back in for a retest, since the "fail" had been sent in electronically to the state. I waited While a different tech did the test. He brought the paperwork to the service writer, who immediately pushed him back out the door, and they ran the test for a third time. The service writer lets me know the car passed, but funny thing- the check engine light came on after the test. It still passed, but "I should get that checked out." I plugged in my datalogger- way back before dataloggers were common- and saw the engine light was for the O2 sensor. Checked the connector, and it had been messed with (The wiring was hanging loose, not snapped into the clip like I had recently left it.) Busted twice in one visit! The service writer just stood there dumbfounded.  I reported them to the BAR. 

spitfirebill UltimaDork
11/10/17 11:45 a.m.
Fueled by Caffeine said:

Just a quick note as someone who moves a lot and has had amazing success finding mechanics.  


The secret is: https://www.cartalk.com/mechanics-files


Yup.. it's out.  I use it and it's never let me down across many states and time zones.

I just checked my town and they are pretty much on the money.  

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