Repair shops suck

Joined
Apr 17, 2012
Messages
3,487
Location
West Michigan
Kind of a rant but bear with me.

Why does it seem like *ALL* car repair shops are complete shysters? I know my way around car repairs and rarely take a vehicle in except for tires and alignments (or finish body work) but on the rare occasion I do I'm batting 1000 for them trying to rip me off, often in very obvious ways. I've had Ford dealers out-right lie about things that need repaired as well as grossly inflating the cost (hood switch repair for $300 estimate comes to mind, it was in no way corroded or failing). I've had body shops invoice for parts that were very obviously not replaced. One time I had a shop write for new rear UCA's on a Crown Victoria because the ride height sensor was popped off (it just needed popped back on! Less than a 5min job).

Recently I rebuilt the front suspension on my truck... OK well maybe not quite but I did control arms and tie rods. Took it into a well reputed local shop for alignment- twice. The first time they didn't get the alignment right and it was exhibiting an cocked steering wheel with touchy steering input. The second time they claimed it was normal... Today I had a front end alignment scheduled at a different shop which HAS done good work for me in the past (on alignments). Checking in, the first thing the counter guy asks is if they already gave me a price. When I answered no (maybe I was testing him... I dunno) he immeidately tried to upsell on a four wheel alignment- on my F150! For those that don't know thats a solid rear axle on leaf springs. So I told him this and of course he stood his ground, when I said I feel like hes trying to upsell me an uneccessary service he stated they can do the front end alignment but would have to charge extra for adjustments! *** is wrong with the car repair industry? If they are doing this to me what are they doing to people who don't know better???

So now I can either gamble with yet another shop for an alignment or I can buy/make tools to DIY the alignment myself. I did a driveway alignment once before on a beater and it turned out quite well despite being a giant **** so maybe its worth it to just invest in some DIY-grade alignment tools... For once I'd like to be able to just pay somebody an appropriate price for the correct repair and not have to worry about crawling around my driveway for half the day :rolleyes:
 
Joined
Mar 21, 2004
Messages
27,991
Location
Near the beach in Delaware
I find most of the indy shops to do good work and honest. Especially when they write out the bill by hand vs computer.

But remember the service writer is not a mechanic.

Most people who come in are not very car knowledgeable. So often the mechanic may suggest things that are reasonable. In most cases the mechanic does not know the vehicle history.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Joined
Dec 14, 2002
Messages
49,494
Location
New Jersey
I find most of the indy shops to do good work and honest. Especially when they write out the bill by hand vs computer.

But remember the service writer is not a mechanic.

Most people who come in are not very car knowledgeable. So often the mechanic may suggest things that are reasonable. In most cases the mechanic does not know the vehicle history.

Agree.

Dealers are maybe a different beast... But Ive found independents to be best, especially when the owner/service writer also works on the cars. Having another fully-burdened laborer just to keep books and look fancy is a liability, and they have a vested interest.
 
Joined
Aug 18, 2009
Messages
4,029
Location
Ohio
Ask around and find a good independent shop.
Fortunately, I have located five around me.
I use one for exhaust issues, one for A/C service, and two for general issues, and the fifth specializes in Honda/Acuras.
Three of the five know me well because we have developed a relationship. The exhaust guy, not so much because I don't need many exhaust repairs. I use the Honda guy as needed.
That familiarity pays dividends.
For instance, I was out in the Ranger the other day, put it in gear and had a bolt hit my foot and a screwed up shift linkage as a result.
I didn't want to mess with it, so I drove to one of the shops I use. They came out, replaced/ locktited the bolt and tightened the second, applying locktite to that. They spent 20 minutes on it.
I drove off with it fixed, $15 lighter. Money well spent.
 
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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
422
Location
Independence Ky
I wanted to hear your reply after this guy tried more lies of additional front end adjustments??? What a total line of bull!! Wow I see this crap all the time too. My biggest problem is always them not wanting to do the job. One of my vehicles has a slight idle miss that both shops I’ve took it to say I think it idles fine. It’s like there just to lazy to work on anything. So I just end up doing it myself. Once again. It almost always ends this way.
 

Astro14

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Joined
Oct 10, 2010
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16,606
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Virginia Beach
I’ve certainly had bad experiences in repair shops. Rude, know it all service writers, inept mechanics, hard upsell.

For example, 3,000 miles after I put four new Bilsteins on a car, I was told I needed new struts and shocks by the service writer...to the tune of $1,200, during a state inspection.

“Why” I asked? “Well, your car has over 100,000 miles on it, they’re due to be replaced.” “Did you look at the car?” “Yes”. “Did you happen to see the gleaming yellow paint of the four new struts and shocks that were replaced a month ago? Along with balljoints, bushings, and inner and outer tie rod ends?” Silence...

“Is it up on the lift? We can go take a look, together, if you like...”

We’ve had some recent threads on how customers suck. An egregious set of stereotypes and customer bashing were posted, most of which I disagreed with.

But I think many of us have had some bad experiences with some shops, and some mechanics and service writers can suck, too.

True gems like Trav, or Clinebarger, can be hard to find.

Cue the stereotypes from the other side of the shop counter....from the customer perspective...let’s call it “equal time”.
 

4WD

$50 site donor 2023
Joined
Sep 21, 2010
Messages
20,730
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Texas via IAH
We have one real Indy left other than front end/alignment/tire shops …
He‘s knowledgable … but famous for having many vehicles torn down all at once …

Our dealerships are actually solid/quick … not many good jobs in small towns so steady hands …
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
13,655
Location
Los Gatos, CA
When I find a good shop I stick with them. Luckily this is tires and alignment. I do everything else if possible.
Regarding upselling, like shok/struts when they are not necessary, I just say, "No thank you."
 
Joined
Apr 6, 2017
Messages
158
Location
Ontario, Canada
The last time my vehicle was in a shop, for an alignment, they sold me new front wheel bearings, claiming there was play. After a trip I heard squeaking, thought it was a rock suck somewhere. Pulled parts off the drivers front until nothing but the rotor/hub was left. Front bearing was full of water/sand. I did go off-road and crossed some water that was deep, my fault. But when I pulled the hub off, the seal was same SKF one I installed 2 years ago. The part # on the bill was for a national seal. I drove down to the shop in my other car and asked them ***. The service manager was clearly embarrassed, and refunded my entire bill. Turns out they merely adjusted the bearings but charged me for the parts/replacement labour anyways.

I had to use this place because my normal go to place was booked 2 weeks in advance.
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2013
Messages
15,266
Location
Indiana
I can honestly say I’m not “experienced” enough to have a bad experience at a shop, but I’ve only used 4 including 2 dealers and all experiences were great.

When my wife and I started dating, she’d take her Volvo to a Mazda dealer (owned by the same folks to own the Jeep dealer ironically) and the service guy was a bit of a poop head to her for brakes and going over 3k for oil changes. I experienced it first hand and that’s when I started doing them.
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2011
Messages
1,759
Location
Missouri
You should try working in a shop and dealing with customers. It's a real hoot. I can say after the experiences I've had with rude customers I go out of my way to treat all food service workers with respect and cut them slack for any minor mishap they may make. They've got it worse than we do in the repair industry.
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2011
Messages
4,508
Sounds just like NY. Finding a good repair shop you can trust around here can be like finding a winning lottery ticket. Mechanics like Trav or clinebarger in my area are impossible to find, and why I do about 98%+ of my work.

I'm south of you but same situation here. When you find a good one they are GOOD and HONEST. The scammers are everywhere though. Side note, there has been so many fraudulent NYS inspection stickers I asked my cops to write a different summons as it's often difficult for the average person to know the sticker is fraudulent. In NY fraudulent inspection is an unclassified crime. Just not comfortable with that one. Frankly they are such good copies we only know after running the sticker number in E-Justice. NY needs to come up with a modernized inspection sticker.
 
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
Messages
8,041
Location
Connecticut
You can tell a good/bad shop pretty quickly. Once you "talk shop" with them and they figure out that you know what you are talking about, they will either become friendlier and seem relieved that you will understand how things work, or get uncomfortable. The uncomfortable ones are usually trying to hide something.

I haven't had anything notable in the way of bad experiences with shops since I do a lot myself. My family has had some interesting ones with Honda dealers, a few independents, and two different Jeep dealers.

I think a majority of the issue is that people feel taken advantage of when a shop tries to upsell stuff, especially when they don't need it. Recommending a service, and not pushing it to the point where the customer feels uneasy would likely win them more customers. About 2 years ago my dad brought his 2013 Grand Cherokee to the dealer for a recall. I had just done a complete service on it a few weeks before, and did the spark plugs, belt, and all driveline fluids. After the recall he went to the service desk and they had a laundry list a mile long of needed "services" most of which I had just done, and the total was nearly $3000. I had gone with him to drop him off and went in to check that he had gotten his keys, and the service advisor was basically trying to pressure him into doing them "otherwise the vehicle will have issues down the road". I explained to them that I had actually just done all of that, and for way less than $3000. They were speechless as we walked out.
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2010
Messages
2,588
Location
TX
It sucks having to deal with a dishonest shop, I think we’ve all had to experience that at some point. You’re right a solid axle RWD vehicle only needs a 2 wheel alignment in the technical sense, but a 4 wheel alignment can make a world of difference on a solid axle RWD vehicle if there is something slightly off with the rear suspension/axle. The rear alignment might not be adjustable but you can align the front tires to make up for the rear alignment. Seen it happen often.
 
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Pew

Joined
Mar 12, 2018
Messages
2,269
Location
IL
I've only had 1 shop I've been to so far that was been good - but I've only used them once.

A friend brought his evo in to a well known evo shop for ALOT of work (all drivetrain work, including clutch, built trans and transfer case, and whatever work that we couldn't do in the garage) and they ended up installing the throw out bearing wrong, ruined his clutch, and he had to get the trans rebuilt multiple times. The car was down more than it was running. The worst part is they blamed him, he went to Exedy, and they said it was installed wrong, and took months on fixing his evo. The same shop also gave another friend of my a wrong O2 spacer. We immediately brought up that it was the wrong size, they said it was right, and we tried fitting it on an exhaust they had in the back....yep guess who was right?
 

BlueOvalFitter

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Feb 28, 2003
Messages
11,862
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Cajun Country, La.
I have found an indy shop owner locally that does excellent work at awesome rates. He does the best alignments around. People actually come from other Parishes to get their vehicles aligned at his shop. It's him, another ASE tech, and his wife as the service writer. He also does service writing as well. Also, I like the fact that he or his tech always talk to the customer beforehand of doing any work.
 
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