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Old 06-11-2006, 07:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Jiffy Lube scam and other rip offs.

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Back when I was growing up David Horowitz used to do a Fight Back segment on KNBC. I'm glad that there are consumer advocates that still do investigative reporting.

I never do any of these flushes or extra type things, save filter replacements and only after many many many miles on my vehicles. I only have 30,000 miles on my current 6 year old car and I cannot tell you how many times even the dealer service manager has tried to get me to do extras that were not covered by the "inclusive" service I prepurchased with the vehicle.

While I don't think that Jiffy Lube is the only one, Sears was also taken to court a number of years ago in California, there are still honest mechanics out there. Find them and cherish them.
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Old 06-11-2006, 08:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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My wife always says that the perfect family is one that contains a doctor, a lawyer, and an auto mechanic. I take our cars to a guy who's known my family for years, but I still don't trust him unconditionally. Whenever I've gone to those Express Oil Change-type places, they always seem to prey on immigrant-Asian customers and keep going back to them in the waiting room over and over trying to get them to add additional services.
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Old 06-11-2006, 08:50 AM   #3 (permalink)
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We very rarely use Jiffy Lube, and only for oil changes, never anything else. I'll definitely reconsider using them in the future. Interesting video, thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-11-2006, 09:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ask them to keep the old parts so you can see them. Did I say always?

Of course this is a large part of the reason I do my own auto repairs.
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Old 06-11-2006, 09:32 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I used to work at a fast-oil-change place. This video is a good example of a ripoff, but you've barely scratched the surface if that's all you've seen. Feel free to ask me questions about the business, but I will not post the company name publicly (PM me if you really must know, but they're all the same.) Franchise locations are the worst of the worst, but company-owned are not a whole lot better.

fun fact: the average employee turnover rate at Jiffy Lube is 1 week.
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Old 06-11-2006, 10:16 AM   #6 (permalink)
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This does make me wonder if I was ever ripped off on my changes.... you know getting the ceapest shit possible when I always order Synthetic.

There's ripoffs everywhere, you just have to pay attention, ask questions and be firm..... it's YOUR money you are spending, they WORK for you the customer and you have every right to make sure the job is done to your liking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cj2112
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ask them to keep the old parts so you can see them. Did I say always?

Of course this is a large part of the reason I do my own auto repairs.
I did that once and the place said "we threw ir away.... it was so bad." To which my reply was, "well, when I see the part I'll make sure you get paid."

They found the part..... it took them quite awhile and I do believe I saw my car up on lifters again..... but they truly found it......

My belief is if the mechanic allows you to go see the problem, shows it to you, and explains in detail what he needs to do.... you have a great mechanic.... it is that reason I love PEP BOYS never have a problem and they seem to always show me exactly what I need done and I can watch out the window and see them doing it.
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Last edited by pan6467; 06-11-2006 at 10:22 AM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 06-11-2006, 10:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cj2112
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ask them to keep the old parts so you can see them. Did I say always?

Of course this is a large part of the reason I do my own auto repairs.
The Cuban guy my mom used to take her car to always gave her the left-over parts in a box. I thought this was kind of silly, but now I realise he was just proving his honesty.

(Come to think of it, my dentist does the same thing except last time when the tooth was in too many pieces. But I got to look at it at least.)
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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i have always been fairly suspicious of auto mechanics (mostly when i'm new to an area). i remember another hidden camera investigation where the news team disconnected a plug to trigger the Check Engine light. they received diagnoses for huge problems when they took the car around.

i guess it's beneficial to learn as much as you can about your car.

MrSelfDestruct, i don't quite know what to ask, but i'm interested to hear about some of your experiences.
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Old 06-11-2006, 12:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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My last visit to Jiffy Lube was in a pinch. I was already behind schedule and had a 600 mile drive ahead so thought I'd save a few minutes. I recall the caring service writer recommending I change diff lube for a small fee. He gave some line about how few of us 4x4 owners remember to handle front and back, which explained the poor condition. What he didn't know was I'd just changed it myself the day before after checking wear patterns. Buffoons. When I mentioned this he stopped cold. Didn't even try to sell me one of their famous 3000mile air filters.

There was a set of these in California caught using old oil. They'd drain oil from customers and filter it into their fill tank each night.

Shady service centers thrive because somewhere over the last few decades it became unfashionable to know about cars. Ignorance makes one easy prey.
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Old 06-11-2006, 12:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Old 06-11-2006, 01:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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This is true of the service industry in general. Anywhere there's expertise contrasted with public ignorance, you'll probably find folks who want to make a quick buck by capitalizing on it. My two main fields (cars and computers) are rife with this sort of corruption. It really angers me that people would abuse their position like this just out of laziness and/or dishonesty.
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Old 06-11-2006, 01:39 PM   #12 (permalink)
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This is why I am glad my brother is a mechanic.
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Old 06-11-2006, 02:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSelfDestruct
I used to work at a fast-oil-change place. This video is a good example of a ripoff, but you've barely scratched the surface if that's all you've seen. Feel free to ask me questions about the business, but I will not post the company name publicly (PM me if you really must know, but they're all the same.) Franchise locations are the worst of the worst, but company-owned are not a whole lot better.

fun fact: the average employee turnover rate at Jiffy Lube is 1 week.

Is there a way I can make sure my oil was really changed and my tranny and radiator were really flushed?
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Old 06-11-2006, 03:31 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSelfDestruct
I used to work at a fast-oil-change place. This video is a good example of a ripoff, but you've barely scratched the surface if that's all you've seen. Feel free to ask me questions about the business, but I will not post the company name publicly (PM me if you really must know, but they're all the same.) Franchise locations are the worst of the worst, but company-owned are not a whole lot better.

fun fact: the average employee turnover rate at Jiffy Lube is 1 week.

I don't have a specific question, but if you have some tips on what to look out for when going to get a car worked on, I'd be really grateful. I know next to nothing about cars, so I don't know the first place to look to see if I'm getting ripped off, etc.
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Old 06-11-2006, 03:41 PM   #15 (permalink)
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sort of along the same lines, the last time my gf took her car to our local JL, she was told of a special deal that the "BEST" oil change was on sale for the price of the "CHEAP" package, so she went ahead and got it done. Well her next trip in she pulled in said change the oil told them no to all their extra services and when it was time to pay up she was quoted a price almost 3X what the oil change was listed, when she asked why they told her well we just do the last service you had done. She complained to the manager and was told that she was to inform them at the time of service what she wanted done and they were not willing to rectify their mistakes. She paid up and came home and promptly called the district manager and he was all too happy to fire the service manager as he had gotten many complaints for such similar snow jobs, and we just got 6 free oil change coupons and a hand written apology from the DM.
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Old 06-11-2006, 04:22 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I do all the maintenance on my car myself because of stuff like that. For bigger jobs I take my chances and get recommendations. I wish I knew a mechanic who lived near me.
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Old 06-11-2006, 04:44 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trickyy
MrSelfDestruct, i don't quite know what to ask, but i'm interested to hear about some of your experiences.
"I don't give a fuck, it's not my car." This is the motto of the fast auto service industry. If it's inconvenient for the tech and the manager isn't around, or for whatever reason something gets screwed up because of negligence, ignorance, or something else, these are the next words you hear.

Clip broke off the air filter box and now it's sucking air in past the filter? "I don't give a fuck, it's not my car."
Didn't look at the door sticker and put 45psi in tires with a maximum safe inflation of 44psi instead of the manufacturer's reccomendation of 32? "I don't give a fuck, it's not my car."
Put regular oil in instead of the synthetic oil the customer paid an extra $30 for? They'll never notice, and "I dont' give a fuck, ti's not my car."

Company policy is that you never put less than 30psi in tires, even if the manufacturer reccommends 26 or 28. Company policy can't be wrong, can it?

My manager was the cheapest, stingiest mofo you'll ever meet. In the winter, he'd yell at us for using too much hot water, and year round it was a holy war on paper towel usage. "Ian, why are you washing your hands so many times?" "Well, there's that warning on the back of the oil bottle that says prolonged contact with used oil can cause skin cancer, and you refuse to buy enough gloves to cover us until the next order, is that good enough for you?"
The T-Tech machine, featured in the Jiffy Lube video above, is a great thing. you don't have to drain anything, you just have to disconnect a cooling line and hook the machine up to the two ends. The T-Tech manual says to run it until the new and old fluid lines are the same color, indicating that all fluid has been replaced. The original policy was to run it up to halfway for a 4-cylinder car, 3/4 for a 6, and all the way for an 8. Don't pay attention to the fact that treansmision capacity and the number of cylinders have nothing to do with each other, that was company policy. Once we measured an marked off the fluid tank by quarts, the policy became running it to double the transmission pan capacity. In a lot of cars and trucks, that wasn't the total capacity of the system, so not all of the fluid was replaced. If we ran it to the number the policy specified and it wasn't completely clean, our manager had the nerve to ask the customer if he wanted us to run it longer for more money ($10-$30, depending on how dirty the fluid was and our ticket average was that day.) The customer was paying $100 for a service (125 for mercon V, which didn't matter since any friction modified fluid like Honda, Mopar, Mercon V, Toyota, etc. was replaced with Mercon/Dexron III and a botle of Shift Rite Platinum, which allegedly converted it to a friction-modified fluid,) and the manager had to save us $0.50 per quart on transmission fluid to wring the pennies out of everything we did.

They once ran a car for half an hour with no oil because we were running a T-Tech and everyone thought that someone else had put oil in and nobody had checked the dipstick or noticed that the oil cap was still off. I'm glad I didn't go anywhere near that car. Nobody ever told the customer.

I once ran a Jeep into an outside wall by stepping on the clutch from outside of the car and turning the key, then letting the clutch go and assuming that it was out of gear with the parking brake on. We wiped the paint scuff off the bumper and he never knew.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SirLance
Is there a way I can make sure my oil was really changed and my tranny and radiator were really flushed?
Watch them do it, ask to see a sample of the fluid both before and after the service, and make sure they're actually taking it from your car. If they have fluid samply cards, ask for a drop from your dipstick before and after (check to see that the fluid bleeds into the paper differently and that there's no ring of debris in the center afterward,) Ask them to explain how the service works (vacuum coolant flushes only replace 80% on a single-pass) and watch to see that the tech follows the procedure that was described to you by the service writer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorade Frost
I don't have a specific question, but if you have some tips on what to look out for when going to get a car worked on, I'd be really grateful. I know next to nothing about cars, so I don't know the first place to look to see if I'm getting ripped off, etc.
An honest service writer should show you a part or a fluid sample if they tell you to replace it. An air filter is still good if it's dry and you can see light through the ridges at the peak of each fold (ask to see a new filter and compare, if less than 50% of light is getting through, it should be replaced.) It's easy to sell air filters because of the misconception that dirty=needs repalcement. If the dust on it doesn't reach teh bottom of the folds and it's not oily or plugged up, it's still OK (if the dust is obviously clogging it, then replace it.) As for some other little-known facts that can lead to unnecessary fluid exchanges or feelings of false security, Ford power steering fluid will always look really dark, Toyota OEM transmission fluid has purple dye in it and will look dirty, and Honda fluids other than oil almost never look dirty.

If you want to know the service interval on a particular fluid, give me the year/make/model and the color of the fluid and I'll probably be able to tell you what you need done (this goes for anyone.)
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Old 06-11-2006, 04:54 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Is there a way I can make sure my oil was really changed and my tranny and radiator were really flushed?
I always stand next to my truck the entire time, and watch them like a hawk. Though whether they use old or new oil is hard to tell with the new pumping machines.

I do have a question for you MrSelfDestruct. I pretty regularly use fuel injector fluid into my gastank (about once every 3k miles). My truck is a '96 with 140k miles (so lots of deposits are to be expected). So when they tried to sell me on their own injector cleaner I figured what the hell. They used the IV-esq line that connects to the pcv valve.

After pumping it through the system my exhuast started belching white smoke. I noticed a definate increase in power, so I know it worked well. My question is this, is this injector cleaner IV easy to get ahold of? It seemed relatively easy watching them do it. And if so how often should it be done (I was told every 10k miles)?
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Old 06-11-2006, 04:55 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirLance
Is there a way I can make sure my oil was really changed and my tranny and radiator were really flushed?

You can check the oil if you know where the dipstick for it is on your engine. Pull it out, wipe it off, put it back in, and pull it out again. Look at the oil on the end of it. New oil will look yellow and translucent, kind of like honey. Old oil is brown and you can't see through it most of the time. Just to double-check, look at it before you take it in, and again when you get it back. There should be a noticable difference between the two. If there isn't, and especially if the after-oil looks dirty, I would question it.
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Old 06-11-2006, 08:16 PM   #20 (permalink)
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grat info guys thanks
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Old 06-12-2006, 03:26 AM   #21 (permalink)
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This is why I'm glad my family- 4 cars- has had the same guy as our mechanic for 12 years.
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Old 06-12-2006, 05:37 AM   #22 (permalink)
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This is very unsettling considering how many times I've been to jiffy lube.
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Old 06-12-2006, 06:16 AM   #23 (permalink)
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My favorite quick-service story: I'm in the waiting room, and I get the traditional "Mr. Redlemon? I need you to see this part", holding up my air filter. Great, I roll my eyes, here we go again. "Your air filter is full of sunflower seeds."

What?

"Sunflower seeds. Here, look." Yup, completely packed and it looks like it's blackened in all the rest of it, and there are several servings worth of seeds in the air filter tray.

OK, you got me this time, go ahead and replace it.
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Old 06-12-2006, 06:23 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Once at Jiffy Lube they told my dad that a certain part (I don't remember which) needed to be flushed/changed/whatever. My dad looks at the kid and goes, "I don't know what kind of a fool you take me for, but my car doesn't even HAVE that. And even if I did, do you think I would trust you to do more than change my oil with MY Volvo? I don't think so."

I always double-check even their lowest level of service. My dad didn't raise a fool.
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Old 06-12-2006, 07:16 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Do you think this is a problem at at certified dealers also? I take my car in for scheaduled maitence at a honda certified dealer.

Maybe I should be glad i'm in Utah and their would have to be a few Mormon empolyees at these dealers and they wouldn't let that happen (i hope).
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:34 AM   #26 (permalink)
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It's definitely a problem at GM certified dealers. They got ahold of my wife's car when we were new to the area and a simple windshield wiper problem turned into a $400 electrical problem. And when we got it back, our coolant resevoir was minus a couple of screws and a plug. Ergo, we would develop a problem with losing coolant every month.

So we took it to a mechanic based on a reference. He pointed out what they had done and fixed it for $9.

BTW, the CIA considers Mormons to be great recruits. Just sayin'.
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:49 AM   #27 (permalink)
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I used to work in a Chevy dealer, still keep my ASE certifications current and used to be GM certified. Working at an extended warranty company now I see a lot of really shady stuff. In the dealer I was always honest along with most of the others, but some of the other techs, not so much. Some techs had a favorite thing they liked to upsell on every car whether it needed or not. Periodically GM would release software updates to address specific issues that a small percentage of vehicles may actually benefit from under certain conditions. One of the techs would recommend updating the software on every car that came in, charging $110, even though virtually nobody would benefit from it.
While dealers aren't always honest, the absolute worst offenders are the national chain stores that specialize in oil changes or brake work. 999 times out of 1000 if your brakes are squeaking the calipers do not need to be replaced, it just needs pads and the rotors need to be either machined or replaced. Yet these brake chains always call in stating all the calipers and wheel cylinders are failed, and if they are extra greedy they will even call in a master cylinder. Now an average, non carguy consumer may not know any better but we certainly do, and every time we send an inspector out to verify the failure they find nothing wrong.
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:58 AM   #28 (permalink)
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I'm sure its a problem everywhere, and my father was a mechanic for most of his life. Not always cars, but a good long time it was cars/trucks. I do my own work. Thanks Dad for teaching me all that stuff!

I would hope Honda doenst have as big a problem as the rest, they're generally known to be pretty reliable... But Hell, I would trust anyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazybill5280
999 times out of 1000 if your brakes are squeaking the calipers do not need to be replaced, it just needs pads and the rotors need to be either machined or replaced. Yet these brake chains always call in stating all the calipers and wheel cylinders are failed, and if they are extra greedy they will even call in a master cylinder. Now an average, non carguy consumer may not know any better but we certainly do, and every time we send an inspector out to verify the failure they find nothing wrong.
I wonder how many people realize that little stip of metal that is on the pads IN ORDER TO SQEAK TO ALERT YOU THE PADS NEED TO BE CHANGED, is even there?

Last edited by krwlz; 06-12-2006 at 09:00 AM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 06-12-2006, 09:47 AM   #29 (permalink)
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The expose on 60 minutes a few years ago on gas station scams was enough to scare the hell out of me. Guys were using razor blade rings to cut fan belts and puncturing tires on the sidewalls so they couldn't be fixed easily in order to sell new ones. Some places were selling hundeds of belts and tires a month.

The message I got from the scams was to almost never allow anyone you don't know to get close to your car, and even if you know them watch closely.
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Old 06-12-2006, 01:24 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krwlz
...I would hope Honda doenst have as big a problem as the rest, they're generally known to be pretty reliable...
Our local Honda dealership is an absolute sleaze. I've yet to hear a good experience regarding new or used sales, service, whatever. I've fixed several of their misdiagnosed butcher jobs and I've seen how they break promises the moment something might cost them a dollar. Meanwhile the Honda dealer 13miles away (next town) is exceptional in every way but location.

Brand loyalty has become a red herring. Trustworthiness depends on the people.
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Old 06-12-2006, 01:44 PM   #31 (permalink)
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I've taken my car to Jiffy Lube once, and they were way too expensive anyway. I'm happy that I have a friend that owns a shop. Even if I didn't completely trust him, I can always go and watch the repairs, oil changes, etc.. being done.
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Old 06-12-2006, 02:32 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrnel
Our local Honda dealership is an absolute sleaze. I've yet to hear a good experience regarding new or used sales, service, whatever. I've fixed several of their misdiagnosed butcher jobs and I've seen how they break promises the moment something might cost them a dollar. Meanwhile the Honda dealer 13miles away (next town) is exceptional in every way but location.

Brand loyalty has become a red herring. Trustworthiness depends on the people.

I really don't doubt it. I own and drive a honda, and my last car was a honda, and the places that ive been, ive been nothing but pleased... But you cant trust people now a days.
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Old 06-12-2006, 06:25 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Is it just the quick service places, or do dealerships do this also? My old Mini, now Sissy's car, always gets taken to the BMW dealership for service, and my Acura will go to the dealership for all services also, at least during the warranty time. Is this actually safer, or do all the same precautions apply?

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Old 06-12-2006, 06:51 PM   #34 (permalink)
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you should always be careful, i would hope that these scams are the exception to the norm, but I don't think they are
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Old 06-12-2006, 07:13 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilda
Is it just the quick service places, or do dealerships do this also? My old Mini, now Sissy's car, always gets taken to the BMW dealership for service, and my Acura will go to the dealership for all services also, at least during the warranty time. Is this actually safer, or do all the same precautions apply?

Gilda

there's a reason they're called stealerships Even if they're honest - and many dealerships are, they're still usually a LOT more expensive than a good 3rd party mechanic. A timing belt/water pump on my old Integra was $250 at a regular mechanic, $485 at the dealership (and about $45 when I decided to stop being lazy and do the damn thing myself )

And that's only the honest dealerships. There are plenty of dishonest and/or incompetent dealerships out there. Even if they're not outright lying to you, they might not know what they're doing. They might replace that part but if they overtighten the nuts, it'll break again in a few thousand miles.
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Old 06-12-2006, 07:39 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakran
there's a reason they're called stealerships Even if they're honest - and many dealerships are, they're still usually a LOT more expensive than a good 3rd party mechanic. A timing belt/water pump on my old Integra was $250 at a regular mechanic, $485 at the dealership (and about $45 when I decided to stop being lazy and do the damn thing myself )

And that's only the honest dealerships. There are plenty of dishonest and/or incompetent dealerships out there. Even if they're not outright lying to you, they might not know what they're doing. They might replace that part but if they overtighten the nuts, it'll break again in a few thousand miles.
Wouldn't you be taking the same risks of improperly done repairs with that 3rd party mechanic? How do you know that the mechanic is trained to do maintenance on your particular make and model of car. Doesn't going to a dealership offer at least some degree of assurance that they at least have the training for your specific vehicle?

I guess it's a good thing I have the others take care of stuff like this.

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Old 06-12-2006, 09:03 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Location: on the back, bitch
I got ripped off by Midas-they pulled the Master Cylinder bit(it's nothing more than a resevoir, really), then had the nerve to leave the cap off and when I came back a week later because the air the MC was sucking in ruined the new brakes, they claimed it wasn't their fault. I'm not that easy to pacify-they fixed their 'mistake'.
My former Chrylser dealer tried to rip me off with doing an unauthorized tune-up, adding almost $150 to the bill. I fought that(had a nice audience of salespeople as I yelled at the service manager) and when the cashier asked if I'd be back when the tune-up was really due, I replied, 'Honey, the way y'all do business, you won't BE here by then". They weren't.
Aamco transmissions tried to rip off the spouse by putting in a cut gear. They went out of business within the year and when his reverse failed(13 months after the work ws done), we went back to that building, now with a new transmission company. The manager said a LOT of people were coming back-best he could do was give us a 'fleet price'.
Goodyear has tried twice to rip us off. First time, for a tie rod end and upper ball joint on our old Cordoba. Didn't fall for it and demanded we get the car back. Their $400 estimated job cost us under $100-spouse did the repairs himself. Second time, different Goodyear, all I wanted was to have the spouse's original wheels switched to new chrome ones. They didn't give us back the originals and had to go back and demand them-they were packed as if ready to be shipped and that was within an hour of picking up the car.
Gilda, best thing you can do is ask questions. Know exactly what's on your car, what it does and the service requirements and intervals. The Chrysler dealer did a tune-up at 36k miles when the intervals were to be 100k. I knew this, they assumed I didn't and went ahead even though I told them specifically what I wanted done.
When you are having work done, ask them what they are going to do and why. Demand to be shown the damaged parts BEFORE they are out of the car. A good mechanic will not have to be asked, he will take you in and show you. Or have a friend look at the car for signs of trouble; excessive rust, oil where oil shouldn't be, belts that looked grazed or chipped. Mechanics aren't needed for that, these are obvious enough to anyone.
Be wary of any mechanic that tells you that something needs to be worked on that has NOTHING to do with why you brought it in. If you're getting an oil change and he tells you your transmission is 'slipping', say thanks and leave. You know your car, it's noises and performance; if something's 'slipping', you'd know.
When taking it in anywhere for an advertised special, be assertive. If they're running a $49.95 'brake special', ask what exactly it includes and don't fall for that 'while we were replacing the pads, we noticed the rotors needed turning'. If it's not included, again, say thanks and leave and don't pay more than what was agreed upon. Make a scene if you have to. Bait and switch is illegal, but it's a part of business because they 'know' most women don't know their cars.
Which brings me to the last part-learn about your car. How many belts (timing, alternator, etc), what kind of brakes (all-disc, front disc, rear rotor), maintenance intervals(listed in the car's manual). So-called 'spongy' brakes feel like they won't grab when they're supposed to; 'pinging' when you step on the gas sounds like a faint knock and the car will hesitate-that could be either dirt in the carburetor or it's time for a tune-up. There shouldn't be fluids under your car when it's parked. Green is a radiator leak, oil is an oil leak. Transmission fluid is pinkish but if you look under the car and see brown wet, you have a transmission problem.
Hope this helps!
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Old 06-12-2006, 10:06 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilda
Wouldn't you be taking the same risks of improperly done repairs with that 3rd party mechanic?
Of course. That's why if you want to protect yourself you need at least a basic understanding of how a car works and you need to see the old parts when the mechanic's done.


Quote:
How do you know that the mechanic is trained to do maintenance on your particular make and model of car.
They rarely are. They might be "certified" in your make of car (honda, etc) (certification isn't that hard to get btw) (and how do you know they're not faking the certification - Honda doesn't certify any but its own mechanics for example).

That said, you don't really need to be trained for each specific car. The disc brakes on your car function very much like the disc brakes on my car. I don't know what you drive, beyond it being an Acura, but I can tell you right now that, since I can work on the brakes on my car, I can work on them on your car. Anything that's unique to your specific car can be investigated with a shop manual.


Quote:
Doesn't going to a dealership offer at least some degree of assurance that they at least have the training for your specific vehicle?
They'd just love for you to think that, but no. Dealerships love to tout their certification programs but they never tell you exactly what those programs do. For example, does anyone really believe Dodge fully trains all its mechanics on every car Dodge ever built? The enormity of that task makes it nearly impossible.

In fact, having known a few dealership mechanics who were about 3 IQ points above oatmeal, I can tell you first hand that you don't necessarilly have to be any more competent or knowledgeable to work at a dealership than you do at a 3rd party.

And in fact, 3rd party mechanics have MORE of an incentive to be good at their job than dealerships do. Lots of people take their cars to the dealership because that's what they think they have to do. And if they're in that mentality, it's not like you're going to take your Acura to the Ford dealership if you decide you don't like the service. But for a 3rd party guy - - if you don't like his work, you're outa there, finding a new 3rd party guy.

That, added to the fact that the 3rd party guy owns his business, and that's it, whereas the dealership/Jiffy Lube has the full support of its backing company. .. the economics aren't hard to work out.
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Old 06-13-2006, 03:57 AM   #39 (permalink)
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Location: backwater, Third World, land of cotton
A couple of years ago, Grancey and I were in Nashville for New Year's Eve and a bowl game. Once we got to the hotel, we climbed back into the car with some other family members who were there and the car (Olds Regency 98) suddenly sounded like a jet engine. We got out, popped the hood (none of us knew what the hell we were doing) and someone declared it might be the water pump.

The next morning (Dec. 31) I took the car to a dealership right across the street and was told that I had to have an APPOINTMENT!?! Sheesh. So, I took the car down the highway to another dealer and they agreed to look at it (it was still making the same noise). An hour later, that dealer called back and told me that the noise was a bad compressor, and it wouldn't give me any real trouble until the weather got hot and the A/C wouldn't work. HOWEVER, they DID discover that some valve or some thingy was causing coolant to leak into the oil and it would have to be repaired. $1,000, of course, or else I wouldn't make it back home.

I called a mechanic back home and told him what the guy had told me (with the guy standing right there) and my home mechanic told me it sounded plausible and that I'd better let him do the work.

So we went to Nashville for a good time and dropped $1000 before we ever got to New Year's. I've always been suspicious of that repair and this thread has dragged up some bad memories between Grancey and I. As we were driving that very same car to the grocery store yesterday, Grancey said that she plans to win the lottery and return to that dealership in Nashville. She will announce to them that she plans to buy an entire fleet of cars (with cash) and needs their help picking them all out. However, right at the point of signing the final documents, she will suddenly announce that she remembers this dealership as the one who ruined her New Year's Eve a few years ago, and she's changed her mind about all the cars.

It's amazing how many of our revenge fantasies begin with, "When we win the lottery...."
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Old 06-13-2006, 07:01 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakran
And in fact, 3rd party mechanics have MORE of an incentive to be good at their job than dealerships do. Lots of people take their cars to the dealership because that's what they think they have to do. And if they're in that mentality, it's not like you're going to take your Acura to the Ford dealership if you decide you don't like the service. But for a 3rd party guy - - if you don't like his work, you're outa there, finding a new 3rd party guy.

That, added to the fact that the 3rd party guy owns his business, and that's it, whereas the dealership/Jiffy Lube has the full support of its backing company. .. the economics aren't hard to work out.
We've always taken our Volvos to 3rd-party mechanics once their warranty ran out. We go to a great guy right now named "Helmut"--nevermind that Helmut is actually a little old Vietnamese guy. It's a family-run operation--his two college-educated sons do the work and Helmut oversees the shop. There is not a day you go in there where the shop isn't full of other European imports--Mercedes, Porsches, BMWs and the like. Our former mechanic (we moved, and so had to leave him behind) was much the same--family-owned business, very busy.

The key in finding a good mechanic to try is to be observant--do they have a lot of repeat business? Are they busy? Are they recommended by a colleague or friend with a similar car to yours? Ours came recommended by a colleague of my father's, and now we wouldn't think of taking our cars anywhere else--Helmut saves us a LOT of money.

Both of the 3rd-party mechanics we've had have ALWAYS taken the time out to explain what was wrong with the car, show us what they were going to do/what was done, etc--without having to be asked. A good mechanic is proud of his work and won't rush you out of his shop--and a good 3rd-party mechanic is looking to build a relationship with you where he can earn your repeat business.
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