Repair shops suck

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Aug 28, 2012
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NC
Very wise on your part to catch any seepage. If this transfer case is anything like the one on my 2019 Nissan Pathfinder, they only hold a few ounces of gear oil. The slightest seal leak and you're toast.

Yeah I check everything out a few times monthly... fluids, adjust tire psi depending on drastic weather changes, crawl under the car and look for leaks, unusual tire wear, etc. It's hard for me to really consider it much of a leak as it hasn't even left a drop on the garage floor. Might have leaked a bit in transit, but minimal I imagine. I happened to see a drop (literally just 1 drop) hanging from the transfer housing, wiped it off and saw 1 more drop 3-4 weeks later. Of course leaks almost always get worse and it's still under warranty for that so might as well get it taken care of. When they had it for the fluid exchanges and confirmed my mention of that leak I hope they at least topped it off knowing I'd be back soon for the fix, which is actually this coming Monday. I will say it 'looks' to be a decent sized case for what it is, but of course I have no real idea as to how much capacity it has.

Having said all I have I will honestly say I do appreciate the thorough attention the car gets when there even for just an oil change. They do a checklist and supposedly check the car end/end and give a green for good, yellow for future attention or red as in GSD ASAP. There is a window in the waiting area showing the entire service dept and they do appear to check what they claim.
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
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452
I like that the OP asked the question. What is wrong with the auto repair and service industry?

I've been in that business working at dealerships, and independent shops for decades and unfortunately most of the industry is populated by scam artists, hacks, and incompetent jack-legs. Yes I said most, and yes that is the truth, doesn't matter if it is at a dealership, chain, or even independent shops. Most of them are at the very least going to try and rip you off, so consumers aren't wrong, with their basic instincts that they believe they will be cheated in some way. I'd say about 5-10% of the individuals in the business are honorable and maybe 5% are truly competent to do the job you hire them to do. Sorry folks, that's the absolute reality in the auto repair business. I've personally after retiring and being too old to move easily taken my car to quite a few shops and not ONE of them was totally honest and most all were very incompetent even with the most simple jobs possible.
 
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Apr 27, 2012
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MA
I like that the OP asked the question. What is wrong with the auto repair and service industry?

I've been in that business working at dealerships, and independent shops for decades and unfortunately most of the industry is populated by scam artists, hacks, and incompetent jack-legs. Yes I said most, and yes that is the truth, doesn't matter if it is at a dealership, chain, or even independent shops. Most of them are at the very least going to try and rip you off, so consumers aren't wrong, with their basic instincts that they believe they will be cheated in some way. I'd say about 5-10% of the individuals in the business are honorable and maybe 5% are truly competent to do the job you hire them to do. Sorry folks, that's the absolute reality in the auto repair business. I've personally after retiring and being too old to move easily taken my car to quite a few shops and not ONE of them was totally honest and most all were very incompetent even with the most simple jobs possible.

Isn't that really due to the fact that they have to work so fast in order to make any money? They can't really spend the time to fix it properly otherwise they're going to end up making peanuts. It's very common for people to say that they get billed for 4 hours worth of labor, but the job is done in 2 hours. Being fast can make people sloppy. They probably can't be too sloppy or they won't last but that probably accounts for some of the hack jobs out there.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2014
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On the road Midwest
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”.
You made me laugh, thanks. You also reminded me of a (now funny) incident that happened to my wife and I a couple years ago, it was downright dishonesty like yours, but a much smaller scale....My wife had just dropped our daughter off at school, she was still on the school campus. She told me it was a nice day and she had the windows down; drove by a maintenance garage at the school and there was a maintenance? fellow outside the garage talking to one of the policemen on campus....He hollered at her as she drove by, she had a tire leaking bad enough that he could hear it. She stopped, he told her to "pull the car over here." She did, he got an air hose and filled the tire for her; but the tire was damaged (I never saw it, so that's all I can say) and the maintenance man told her she was going to need a new tire right now. The campus policeman politely joined the conversation and gave her directions to a local (chain) tire shop that was within a few blocks.
This (local chain) tire shop has us in their (computer) records since I've bought tires there for the last several years; sure enough, they look up the tire serial # and the guy tells my wife he will pro-rate warranty replace the tire with a similar one they have in stock; OK. My wife gives the kid the key and they pull the car into the shop, things go south (scamming) quickly.
The guy comes out and tells my wife that the car needs a new serpentine belt. My wife's response is to pull out her cell phone and call me. It gets humorous; because my wife is a good woman, but if you lift the hood on a car, she's lost. I'm willing to bet she doesn't know the transmission dipstick from the oil dipstick....Anyhow, this same car, my wife knew, I had just replaced the serpentine belt the previous weekend. They wanted to "upsell" my wife the one part that she knew was a new part. The only thing he accomplished was an instantaneous loss of credibility; with a non-mechanic woman, no less. Don't these scammers realize what they're really doing?
The "service writer," gets me on the phone and starts telling me how "dry rotted and cracked" the serpentine belt is, and I can hear my wife laughing out loud in the background. The kid tells me that a new belt is "only $174.99" and installation is free. I'm thinking to myself, yeah, that's 10 times the price and "installation" takes a 15mm socket and 5 minutes. I really, honestly thought about asking the kid to let me talk to my wife and telling my wife to have them take the car off the lift, right now, watch them do it, and tow it to our home (maybe 15 miles). I was truly afraid they would sabotage something else on the car. What I actually did was meekly tell the kid "No thank you." They replaced the tire and we will not return to that shop. I wonder how often such things happen?

Edit: I'd love to find someone like Trav or clinebarger (true gems) in my area.
 
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Joined
Sep 21, 2020
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452
I was truly afraid they would sabotage something else on the car.
This happens far more often than most people might think. I worked in the service and repair business and actually heard service writers saying in a sarcastic way to some of the other techs they work with that sometimes you need to break one thing to fix another. They were NOT joking about the reality of this, I saw it happen on more than several occasions when customers would refuse a recommended service or even if the car was just pulled into the shop I witnessed other techs do just such things over many years.!
 

GON

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Great thread, lots of great contributions.

My question- how can both a dealer mechanic or an independent shop make it running a legitimate business?

On the dealer side- the mechanics are typically paid a fixed rate for the job. We all know "Murphy" shows up regularly, so that means a reduction in pay for the mechanic. How many other industries cut a professionals pay when Murphy shows up? I am still amazed that a new car dealer mechanic in upstate new york gets paid the same book rate as his counterpart in Phoenix. Rust and corrosion add time to any car repair.

For the independent- how can he stay in business? When I was a kid, all the restaurants and pizza places were run by families. All of them. They may not of had health insurance, but they could go to the hospital for treatment and leave with a affordable bill. Today, they can't afford health insurance, and if they go to the hospital their bill will be up to five times what an insurance company paid the hospital for the same procedure. I am sure it is the same challenge with a indy repair shop. How can one run legitimate and pay for health insurance, unemployment insurance, liability insurance. It seems like a unbelievable challenge and near mission impossible. Heck even Google gets a cut in may cases from the indy repair shop.

What is the answer? I don't know but I have great empathy for indy repair shops and even dealer mechanics.

Finally- I can't afford to get exploited on any repair- so I do most everything myself. Buyer Beware.....
 
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Reno, Nevada
Not sure if it will consistently work but I got a recommendation for a good independent shop from a guy behind the counter at a local NAPA parts store.
 

Astro14

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Word of mouth has led to some great finds in the repair business for me.

The local electric guy was a word of mouth recommendation, and he has done half a dozen alternators and nearly that many starters for me and they've all been great. Lasted for years in service, at a cheaper price than a parts store, with absolute certainty of fit and capacity.

The best alignment shop around is a small guy, heard of him via word of mouth, and he's booked out 3 weeks in advance. Another great recommendation.
 
Joined
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Missouri
This happens far more often than most people might think. I worked in the service and repair business and actually heard service writers saying in a sarcastic way to some of the other techs they work with that sometimes you need to break one thing to fix another. They were NOT joking about the reality of this, I saw it happen on more than several occasions when customers would refuse a recommended service or even if the car was just pulled into the shop I witnessed other techs do just such things over many years.!
Sounds like you have worked at some really shady places. I've worked with a few techs and advisors like you described in my career and they have all been fired.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
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1,573
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Ohio
I've had good luck with a local chain for tires and alignments. Almost everything else I do myself.

I cringe when I have to take any car to the dealer. Seems like they never cease to amaze me with their ineptitude and their upselling. My favorite upsell? Took the Saturn to the dealer for a warranty repair. It had a replaceable inline fuel filter scheduled for 60,000 miles. The service adviser said "based on their experiences in NE Ohio, we recommend 30,000 miles". Oh really? How many clogged fuel filters do you guys encounter? Well, he didn't know, but the road salt attacks the gas tanks and clogs the filters. Hold on professor, are we talking about the gas tank on the car? Yes. You're saying the road salt rusts the OUTSIDE of the tank, but it gets INSIDE the tank and clogs the filter? Um, well... And how exactly does a fuel tank made out of plastic rust? No answer, strangely enough.

Most inept service tech? The one who spent two days trying to figure out why the power mirrors on my Traverse didn't work. I had identified it had a blown fuse. Tech could not identify the correct fuse, insisted the fuse was good. After 2 days arrived at the diagnosis that it was probably a bad body control module, and was talking about $$$$ to replace it. I took it home, diagnosed it myself in 20 minutes. Bad mirror switch, $20 on Amazon. Cracked open the old one, it had broken internally and caused a short circuit that blew the fuse. Better yet, looking at the wiring diagram for the power mirrors, the body control module was not part of the power mirror circuit at all. Seriously?
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2020
Messages
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Great thread, lots of great contributions.

My question- how can both a dealer mechanic or an independent shop make it running a legitimate business?

On the dealer side- the mechanics are typically paid a fixed rate for the job. We all know "Murphy" shows up regularly, so that means a reduction in pay for the mechanic. How many other industries cut a professionals pay when Murphy shows up? I am still amazed that a new car dealer mechanic in upstate new york gets paid the same book rate as his counterpart in Phoenix. Rust and corrosion add time to any car repair.

For the independent- how can he stay in business? When I was a kid, all the restaurants and pizza places were run by families. All of them. They may not of had health insurance, but they could go to the hospital for treatment and leave with a affordable bill. Today, they can't afford health insurance, and if they go to the hospital their bill will be up to five times what an insurance company paid the hospital for the same procedure. I am sure it is the same challenge with a indy repair shop. How can one run legitimate and pay for health insurance, unemployment insurance, liability insurance. It seems like a unbelievable challenge and near mission impossible. Heck even Google gets a cut in may cases from the indy repair shop.

What is the answer? I don't know but I have great empathy for indy repair shops and even dealer mechanics.

Finally- I can't afford to get exploited on any repair- so I do most everything myself. Buyer Beware.....
Don't have empathy for these businesses that cheat, lie, steal, deceive, sabotage, and rip the customer off, if you can't make it in the business you need to find another business to operate or another line of work.
 
Joined
Oct 12, 2005
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For something like a 1995 Range Rover I’d recommend someone who knows about Range Rovers and other European cars. I have a strong feeling taking it to a Firestone, Goodyear, Midas, and the other chain repair shops will end up badly for you.

Also sometimes good mechanics make mistakes too. A good, honest mechanic will stand by his work. The mechanics on YouTube like South Main Auto, Pine Hollow Diagnostics, FordTechMakuloco, are the type of mechanics you want to seek out. There are also several mechanics here on this forum who are pretty stand up guys. They are out there if you search for them, word of mouth goes a long way. Once you find your mechanic you trust and does good work make sure to keep a good relationship. My dad had a few good mechanics throughout the years and he always kept a good relationship with them by buying them lunch or getting them a gift card to a coffee shop after the work was completed as an extra thank you, sending Christmas cards to the shop too, etc. Having that good relationship with your mechanic can make all the difference in owning an older car.
I've always done this with the shop owner I've been going to since 2002. He's always tried to save me money. When I get a bottle of wine at work as a Christmas present (I don't drink, but they don't know that!), I regift it to him. One day last year I stopped at the donut shop near his location and brought a dozen mixed donuts around; I had no appointment and didn't need anything, but I thought it would be nice to treat him, his father, and his brothers.
 
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IMO, the worst are the nationwide muffler and tire chains. Most dealers seem okay, along with most indy places.
My GMC/Buick dealer, the one I bought the Park Avenue from in '07 and to which I took the Regal for its CPO-covered oil changes/tire rotations, has always been good.
 
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Dec 28, 2014
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Very tough trade to be in right now for techs. They just don’t pay you well. You won’t get paid to diagnose problems. Warranty work will kill you. Extended warranties will cut your time down too.

So good techs have done the smart thing, they have either left the industry or gone to fleet repair, teaching or something else entirely.

I have a friend that owns a big high end German repair facility, best tech I’ve ever seen. He is one of the few that I’ve seen “make it” without inheriting a business/gas station/repair facility. He said to me, it’s the big end customers. I’m honest and I care, but I charge high rates for outstanding service and repair. I quote them high, with hopes I’ll come under my estimate and have a happy customer on my hands. This guy doesn’t mess around, he’s going to fix your high end luxury automobile, and he’s going to charge you for it. No Firestone customers are walking through his doors - and I bet he wouldn’t want them - his customers pay and they KNOW they are getting the best. Not some 18 year old kid turning a wrench for the first time at Firestone or Midas. And not some hack at a dealer - who replaced the good tech that was smart and left - with the dealer charging YOU like you’re still getting that great tech and service. This is the industry now. It’s tough and good people have sold their tools and moved on to something else.
 

buck91

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Very tough trade to be in right now for techs. They just don’t pay you well. You won’t get paid to diagnose problems. Warranty work will kill you. Extended warranties will cut your time down too.

So good techs have done the smart thing, they have either left the industry or gone to fleet repair, teaching or something else entirely.

I have a friend that owns a big high end German repair facility, best tech I’ve ever seen. He is one of the few that I’ve seen “make it” without inheriting a business/gas station/repair facility. He said to me, it’s the big end customers. I’m honest and I care, but I charge high rates for outstanding service and repair. I quote them high, with hopes I’ll come under my estimate and have a happy customer on my hands. This guy doesn’t mess around, he’s going to fix your high end luxury automobile, and he’s going to charge you for it. No Firestone customers are walking through his doors - and I bet he wouldn’t want them - his customers pay and they KNOW they are getting the best. Not some 18 year old kid turning a wrench for the first time at Firestone or Midas. And not some hack at a dealer - who replaced the good tech that was smart and left - with the dealer charging YOU like you’re still getting that great tech and service. This is the industry now. It’s tough and good people have sold their tools and moved on to something else.


The problem is this paradigm fits a LOT of industries and/or trades right now. I speak first hand from the first responder and healthcare worker scene.
 
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