Dealer or Local Mechanic?

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bck63
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Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by bck63 » Tue May 14, 2019 5:45 pm

I just picked my car up from the car dealer. Paid a $701 bill for repairs. I always worry I'm overpaying.

I'm curious, who uses a dealer for repairs (I'm talking about cars not under warranty), and who uses a local, independent mechanic?

What is your reasoning for your choice?

brad.clarkston
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by brad.clarkston » Tue May 14, 2019 5:52 pm

For my wife's new hybrid we use the dealer only better safe than sorry.
For my 2007 Camry a good local shop but it hasn't had more than a busted hose since we bought it in 2009.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Tue May 14, 2019 5:57 pm

bck63 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 5:45 pm
I just picked my car up from the car dealer. Paid a $701 bill for repairs. I always worry I'm overpaying.

I'm curious, who uses a dealer for repairs (I'm talking about cars not under warranty), and who uses a local, independent mechanic?

What is your reasoning for your choice?
Routine work like new tires, alignments, oil changes, batteries, alternators, I use a local chain.

Brakes, on board computers, higher level stuff, dealership.

The service managers know of my reliance on my van, at both service locations, and have never left us stranded overnight.

So, a mixture of both.

I will say the dealership is competitive on tires, batteries. On the tires the local shop has a contract on fleet/service vehicles, and I buy commercial truck tires. The infrastructure is so bad it wouldn't make any sense to buy a tire that delivered a smoother ride, it would be a total waste of money. :x

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

peek
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by peek » Tue May 14, 2019 6:01 pm

We have a trusted local mechanic that we use for repairs on our cars (at least when they are out of warrantee). The primary reason for this is cost. The dealership is doing the same work with more expensive parts and labor. We do take my wife's car to the stealership for oil changes because it's still under warrantee and their oil change price isn't much different than the local guys. When it needs brakes it will go to the local guys. The two cars are a 2003 Civic and a 2015 Toyota Rav.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Doom&Gloom » Tue May 14, 2019 6:21 pm

Dealership for my vehicle.

I totally lost confidence in my independent shop when they changed hands several years ago. I have not found another that I have confidence in.

My dealership has a large window into their service area from the waiting room with seating at the window, wifi, drinks, and snacks. I don't mind the price quite so much if I can watch what they are doing. It isn't like looking directly over their shoulder, but ... And the charges are quite competitive with my former independent shop's prices.

DS' older vehicle's service is completely at an independent chain.
DW's is split between that shop and her dealership, dependent upon the specific service required.

Starfish
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Starfish » Tue May 14, 2019 6:37 pm

bck63 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 5:45 pm
I just picked my car up from the car dealer. Paid a $701 bill for repairs. I always worry I'm overpaying.

I'm curious, who uses a dealer for repairs (I'm talking about cars not under warranty), and who uses a local, independent mechanic?

What is your reasoning for your choice?
I never used the dealer for repairs. I go there only for oil changes, they mark them as loss leaders to get me in the door. With the coffee, bagels, an 8$ place for a decent haircut and an Indian supermarket next door, or if I don't want to wait Lyft to work, it cannot be beat even if wanted to do it myself.
The repairs are about 1.5X-2X more than an pretty expensive specialized single brand mechanic with very good ratings. So yeah, 500-1000$ difference for a common repair is pretty compelling to me.

DetroitRick
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by DetroitRick » Tue May 14, 2019 6:42 pm

I just switched from dealer to local mechanic for my Toyota last October. Prior to that, I had used the dealer for both warranty and non-warranty repairs. I'm not a big fan of generalizing on this. You really need to compare a specific dealer with a specific independent shop. In my case, the dealer was fine - honest, easy-to-schedule, competent. Some of their standard routine maintenance seemed a bit over-priced, but not bad enough to where I cared much. I've not had many repairs, but their solutions were always pretty black-and-white. They've even done a few minor things for free, and offered high/low cost solutions on a specific repair (with good explanations to help me choose). To their credit. But I switched to an independent simply because I found a specific shop with equal technical proficiency, slightly cheaper prices, same distance from home, and a bit more reasonable in dealing with an older car. Initially took my car in there for a "trial" repair - one where I knew what was needed (wheel bearing) and how much it would cost. And let them have at it to see how they would do (plus my wife has been going there for years). They passed my test and I made the switch. The other factor was that, in the last few years, dealership turnover in both mechanics and service advisors has grown to nearly 100%. This shop is a family business with little turnover. Plus they mostly drive Toyotas for their personal cars. But frankly, I'd be happy going to either one, just a very mild preference now for that particular independent shop.

My biggest surprise at switching to this independent was how up-to-date they were with technology. Besides the diagnostics, they provide detailed online maintenance reports and repair records. Both have ride services, and waiting rooms with wifi. Coffee at dealership was better though :oops: .

Wife's situation has been much different. We found both of her nearest dealerships (Dodge and Chrysler) to be horrid. Not saying they all are - just that these two were (incompetent, hard sell, careless, expensive). So she never used a dealership for her Dodge Caravan except warranty issues. She has always used the same independent facility that I now use.

As for tires, batteries, and oil changes - everybody in this market is competitive. It really doesn't matter where we go for those. We've tended to buy tires through local chains, who seem to have the biggest selection. Batteries, we've gotten all 3 places - local chains, dealer, independent. No preference there.

maroon
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by maroon » Tue May 14, 2019 7:07 pm

For oil changes, I go to the dealership since it's free. I think I've gotten about 30 free oil changes by now. (I thought the freebie would end after my car hit 100K miles. Nope; still free.)

For the 30K, 60K, 90K, 120K routine maintenance, I went to the dealer as they'll loan me a vehicle to get to work. Also they'll accept other dealers' coupons. For the timing belt replacement, I checked the local independent specalist and found that the dealership price was less (after coupon). Also I'm partial to the dealership as I once got a "goodwill" out-of-warranty repair.

For tires, I go to a tire shop. For batteries, I go to Walmart.

sport
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by sport » Tue May 14, 2019 7:26 pm

I have always used independent mechanics. However, one time I had a "difficult" repair to diagnose. I went to a dealer and they treated me right and fixed the problem at very low cost. So, I started to use them. Then the dealer ownership changed, the service personnel changed, and it was no longer a good place to get service. So, I went back to using independents. I now take my Toyotas to an independent who specializes in Toyotas and Hondas. The only exceptions are warranty work, and the "free" two year service that comes with a new Toyota.

michaelingp
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by michaelingp » Tue May 14, 2019 7:39 pm

The problem I've had in the past is that many dealers tend to over-maintain. In other words, they were always pressing you to fix things that don't need fixing, or replace things that don't need replacing. But maybe that doesn't happen so much any more because I'm not running into that as often. My current feeling is that the cars are getting so complex and more reliable than in the past, I'd just as soon use the dealer.

dbr
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by dbr » Wed May 15, 2019 7:42 am

Both. Only the dealer does warranty repairs and works on certain special problems, mainly electronics.

In general it depends. A good dealer is far better than a lousy local mechanic and vice-versa. I have a good dealer and a good local mechanic. The local mechanic is far more convenient because they are a fifteen second drive away.

armeliusc
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by armeliusc » Wed May 15, 2019 7:56 am

I am fortunate that we have local independent mechanics that are very trustworthy and competent, specializing only in our car make (Honda and Acura). So I never bring our car to the dealership, except for warranty item (the last one was the airbag replacement), even when we got it brand new. I just see no point in bringing it to the dealership: they cost more, they often "recommend" services that I know are not needed (especially for my older car), and I have no knowledge who works on my car and everything just got related back and forth by the so-called "service advisor". On the other hand, my local mechanics know the cars history, the owners work on the car personally, always to me about it frankly, and would even advise me not to do this or that if they are not necessary.

Nissanzx1
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Nissanzx1 » Wed May 15, 2019 7:58 am

I do everything I can myself. If I can’t figure it out, I send it to my local independent mechanic.

I had a dealer once charge me $462 for an oil change. That was it for me.

carolinaman
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by carolinaman » Wed May 15, 2019 8:19 am

I do regular service (oil change, filters, tire rotation, etc) at dealer. With coupons this is usually a very good deal. They check our cars and if they spot something that needs work and is more expensive, I will take it to a very good independent shop I know. The independent will do the work for half the cost of dealer, are honest and reliable. Sometimes if I mention to dealer I will go elsewhere, they will cut their price and I will let them do the work since the car is already there.

onourway
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by onourway » Wed May 15, 2019 8:20 am

It really depends on your particular dealer. I would not generally recommend a dealer to anyone however after a number of these threads over the years it appears forum members have some pretty good ones. Certainly not my personal experience where dealers will charge you heftily for every single thing they can possibly make up and charge full list price for the OEM parts which are widely available from other dealers online for close to 50% off. I think having a good relationship with a good independent mechanic is one of the best investments you can make in reducing your transportation costs and stresses. Ours does all sorts of odds and ends for free. Won't do anything unnecessary, even if you have no mechanical bone in your body to double-check him, and so on.

My sister-in-law had a front caliper seize recently and had the car towed to the closest dealer. They presented her with a $5000 estimate. Some of which was good-to-do regular maintenance - but others - like replacing pads, rotors AND calipers on all 4 corners to the tune of over $3k were pure scams. Plus, after listing out nearly every maintenance item possible as a line item, they had the gall to ALSO have an item for '100k maintenance' (with no further description) for nearly $500. Oh, and they added a $20 'shop' charge below the line, just above the tax. :oops:

j0nnyg1984
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by j0nnyg1984 » Wed May 15, 2019 8:22 am

I would never use the dealer outside of warranty work, and since my truck is 15 years old, it’s been a long, long time since I have had them do any work for me.

Learn how to do the work yourself. The majority of it is not difficult. It’s astonishing that a place like this that so heavily promotes the DIY approach, lowest cost investing, is so quick to drop huge money at a dealership. They are the higher expense ratio in the game...
Last edited by j0nnyg1984 on Wed May 15, 2019 8:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

Barsoom
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Barsoom » Wed May 15, 2019 8:23 am

When I lived in California, I went to a local shop for my 10+ year old Acura Integra because that shop also serviced the local PD cruisers.

My wife's Toyota RAV4 went only to the dealer. When I replaced my Acura with a Ford Fusion hybrid model, I only went to the dealer.

Now that I live in the Houston area, both cars go only to the respective dealers.

-B

cableguy
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by cableguy » Wed May 15, 2019 8:34 am

Dealer
* Good at replacing parts
* Expensive
* Can handle warranty and recalls
* Not interested in working on older cars
* Have the latest computers to trouble shoot problems
* A lot of young bucks that don't have a personal relationship with the customers

Local
*Work on older cars
*Relationship with the customers
*Spend more time on fixing stuff instead of just replacing parts

TheOscarGuy
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by TheOscarGuy » Wed May 15, 2019 8:52 am

j0nnyg1984 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 8:22 am
I would never use the dealer outside of warranty work, and since my truck is 15 years old, it’s been a long, long time since I have had them do any work for me.

Learn how to do the work yourself. The majority of it is not difficult. It’s astonishing that a place like this that so heavily promotes the DIY approach, lowest cost investing, is so quick to drop huge money at a dealership. They are the higher expense ratio in the game...
I agree.
I started out small (in cabin filter, engine filter), and soon realized that most jobs have extensive documentation/steps online that are easy to follow. You need to buy some tools but you end up doing a much better job maintaining your vehicle and saving money in the process.
And its not that hard. We are not talking rebuilding transmission or changing timing belt. All other stuff is doable by owner and can be learnt fairly easily.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Doom&Gloom » Wed May 15, 2019 8:56 am

onourway wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 8:20 am
It really depends on your particular dealer. I would not generally recommend a dealer to anyone however after a number of these threads over the years it appears forum members have some pretty good ones. Certainly not my personal experience where dealers will charge you heftily for every single thing they can possibly make up and charge full list price for the OEM parts which are widely available from other dealers online for close to 50% off. I think having a good relationship with a good independent mechanic is one of the best investments you can make in reducing your transportation costs and stresses. Ours does all sorts of odds and ends for free. Won't do anything unnecessary, even if you have no mechanical bone in your body to double-check him, and so on.

My sister-in-law had a front caliper seize recently and had the car towed to the closest dealer. They presented her with a $5000 estimate. Some of which was good-to-do regular maintenance - but others - like replacing pads, rotors AND calipers on all 4 corners to the tune of over $3k were pure scams. Plus, after listing out nearly every maintenance item possible as a line item, they had the gall to ALSO have an item for '100k maintenance' (with no further description) for nearly $500. Oh, and they added a $20 'shop' charge below the line, just above the tax. :oops:
There is an amusing (to me) contrast between two dealerships in our area. They are next door to each other and have common ownership, but their service departments could not be more different. Brand A is top-notch service, priced comparably to independents, and never tries to upsell services. Brand B is a bit shoddy with their work, much higher than independents, and always eager to upsell something at an outrageous price. So, yes, it does pay to shop around.

Another tip for maintenance service: read the manual for the recommended services. The xx,xxx mile recommended services are almost always high-priced and mostly unnecessary or "eyeball" inspections. Pick and choose exactly which services that you want done. It is quite easy to save hundreds on almost all of those "regularly scheduled maintenance" visits that list much more than an oil change--and without impacting the warranty.

Atilla
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Atilla » Wed May 15, 2019 9:01 am

Depends on the work.

Install lowering springs and do alignment - independent mechanic
Install wheel bearing assembly I purchased online - independent mechanic

Replace transmission fluid with a specific factory fluid requiring a Consult 3 scan tool to monitor transmission temperature while performing the procedure - dealership
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friar1610
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by friar1610 » Wed May 15, 2019 9:07 am

I just used the dealership for (what I hope is) my last service with them. It's a late model Volvo that I bought used a year ago and it still had one free service left on it. From now on I will use the local independent shop that I had used for my previous Volvo. When I had that last service done at the dealer they noted that I needed a rear brake job and wanted $600 to do it. I took the car to the independent shop for a 2nd opinion. They concurred on the need for brakes but did it for $450. The dealer has a lovely waiting room with coffee and snacks and the local guy doesn't. But I can go to Dunkin' Donuts and get a coffee and a donut for $4 and still be way ahead.

I use a different local shop for my 2011 Buick. I caught the Buick dealer trying to rip me off a while back and have only returned for one recall job.

Both the Volvo and Buick dealers are owned by the same parent company. :oops:
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Jack FFR1846
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed May 15, 2019 9:14 am

Outside of warranty service, I've found that dealer mechanics are only marginally better than I am. Sometimes they figure out things I've missed. Sometimes I get the car back and figure out things they've missed.

My independent is where the car goes when it's clearly above my ability. They've done some excellent diagnosis where I would have replaced something else and been stuck with the same problem. They don't have issues using parts that I've purchased before realizing that I'm in over my head. They tell me what's wrong and give me the option to fix it or not. Hourly is less than the dealer (by a lot) and they happen to be 2 miles away where the closest dealer is 12.

I find that with warranty services, the dealers always perform their 148 point inspection and give me reports of things wrong. Sometimes it's helpful (bulbs burned out that I had not noticed) and sometimes it's not (brake pads listed as "red". I measure the exact thickness of pad and rotor afterwards and find that there's plenty of pad for at least another year). The set "services".....service 1, for example are complete rip offs. They often come down to change the oil and have a nice day but cost $150. No thanks, that's one I'll do for $35, thank you very much.
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dm200
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by dm200 » Wed May 15, 2019 9:22 am

For our older Toyota Camrys, we use a local shop that seems to do good work AND charge reasonable prices. They also seem to only recommend things when actually needed.

For example, our low mileage (under 90,000 miles) 1998 Camry just had a radiator failure - so we authorized that work to be done. After installing the replacement radiator, they also replaced the thermostat. However, they then discovered a water pump problem. Since the timing belt had never been replaced (and was very, very overdue), we authorized the timing belt and water pump to be replaced. We bought the car 3 1/2 years ago from friends - and the timing belt was still the original one.

We had the timing belt and water pump on our "to be done" list. Since this is our normally local only driving car, we felt comfortable driving with the risk of timing belt failure. BUT - since the water pump now needs replacing, we went for the timing belt as well - since doing them separately involved duplicate work.

My wife is very good at chit-chatting with the folks there and getting good service. They also stand behind what they do, so on several occasions, when work done had to be redone - they covered it.

When we have our cars serviced there, we always plan on the work taking more than one day. Since they order the parts, this can delay completion of the work. I suspect that such "parts ordering" might not be as common at a dealer.

Last year, a local AAA services place offered some "free" checkup services and recommended all sorts of things needed for both older Camrys. She thought this was a good deal, but now has concluded that the AAA place was pushing for some things that were not either essential or needed immediately.

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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by sport » Wed May 15, 2019 9:28 am

Many years ago, I took my Mazda to the dealer with two problems. A rear speaker and the automatic shoulder belt stopped working. As I recall, they wanted about $200 to replace the speaker and about $250 to fix the seat belt. In today's dollars, that would be about $1000. I was reluctant to spend that much, so I researched the problems. I fixed the speaker with a short piece of string, and I fixed the seat belt with a spray of WD-40. Total cost was essentially zero. I never went back to that dealer for service.

Atgard
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Atgard » Wed May 15, 2019 10:05 am

I think it's hard to generalize. While dealers MAY be more "standard," there are still good and bad dealers, and probably some that overcharge, hard sell, etc. The variation among local shops can be immense. I went from a repair shop with my first car that literally put in used parts (charging me for new), and would fix one thing and break another so I'd be back in a week. Then I found one that was great, reasonably priced, did great work (suddenly my "unreliable" car didn't actually need to be in the shop every other week).

Fortunately (or unfortunately), my last 2 cars have been very reliable, so I don't have a known local shop where I live now. The dealer has been great so far doing (free) scheduled maintenance & oil changes, so I might give them a shot if I need something, even if it costs a little more -- assuming they are fair (not doing unnecessary work). My wife's dealer has been a little less solid on warranty/recall work, so I'd be more inclined to ask friends for local shop recommendations if I need repairs.

For tires and batteries, I use Costco. For oil changes, I used to use Sears Auto, but I don't think they're around anymore. If the price is reasonable at the dealer I'll keep using them.

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dm200
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by dm200 » Wed May 15, 2019 10:11 am

Years ago, I worked near the dealer where we bought a new car - so I was the one taking in the car for regular service and problems.

Their "system" (common at dealers) was that they had service "teams" - the red team, the blue team, etc. Each "team" had a leader and this guy/gal was pitched as making sure everything was done right, etc. There were, in my experience, two problems with that team approach:

1. From my interactions with them, these guys/gals seem to have had no "hands on" experience with anything done in the service department

2. The team leaders were paid, in part at least, on commission.

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Watty
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Watty » Wed May 15, 2019 10:42 am

bck63 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 5:45 pm
(I'm talking about cars not under warranty),
It might seem obvious but one really important thing is to really understand your warranties.

You likely have something like multiple warranties including;
1) Full 3 year 36k mile
2) Powertrain 5 year 60 k mile.
3) Separate warranty for tires
4) Emission component warranty which will vary by state which in some states like California my go 7 or 8 years or 70K to 80K mile depending on the components.

It was years ago but a few weeks after I had moved to a new city one day after work my car was totally dead and it was not the battery. I did not have a local mechanic so I had it towed to a dealership that was less than a mile away but there service department was closed. The car was around six years old so I would not normally use a dealership but I did not have any other good alternatives.

The next morning I talked to them and they were going to call me back after they had an estimate. It got to be lunch time and I had not heard from them so I was getting ticked off so I called them expecting to read them the riot act. It turned out that the cars computer had died and replacing it was covered under an emission warranty since I had bought the car in California so there was no charge for the repair. I did not know that I had that still. They were planning on calling me back in about another hour when the car would be ready to pick up.

If I had taken to an independent mechanic instead of the dealership they very well could have charged me for the repair.
bck63 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 5:45 pm
....and who uses a local, independent mechanic?

What is your reasoning for your choice?
Here in Atlanta AAA has repair shops that I use.

These are actually run by AAA and not just some shop with a AAA approval. A big point of these is that the people are not paid by commission so they do not have any incentive to bloat your bill with unnecessary work. They cost a bit more than some some independent shops but that is OK with me as long as they only do the needed work.

One good problem that I have is that I usually drive Hondas and Toyotas that I replace when they are about ten years old. These are so reliable that I rarely have much non-routine maintenance. The also require very little routine maintenance. This means I don't get enough work done to really know which shops are good or bad since I may go years between having any non-warranty repairs done.

Thegame14
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Thegame14 » Wed May 15, 2019 11:38 am

for my old beaters we use local mechanic, for the new mazda we have used the dealer, but so far only don't brakes which they helped us out with price and oil changes.

armeliusc
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by armeliusc » Wed May 15, 2019 11:46 am

TheOscarGuy wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 8:52 am
j0nnyg1984 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 8:22 am
I would never use the dealer outside of warranty work, and since my truck is 15 years old, it’s been a long, long time since I have had them do any work for me.

Learn how to do the work yourself. The majority of it is not difficult. It’s astonishing that a place like this that so heavily promotes the DIY approach, lowest cost investing, is so quick to drop huge money at a dealership. They are the higher expense ratio in the game...
I agree.
I started out small (in cabin filter, engine filter), and soon realized that most jobs have extensive documentation/steps online that are easy to follow. You need to buy some tools but you end up doing a much better job maintaining your vehicle and saving money in the process.
And its not that hard. We are not talking rebuilding transmission or changing timing belt. All other stuff is doable by owner and can be learnt fairly easily.
I am not so sure. There is some kind of "economy of scale" at work here that, at least in my case, make that saving from DIY is not worth it. For example, my local mechanic charge me about $40 for oil change, which I need to do every ~8 months. I can probably save $5 - $10 with DIY but then I have to worry about getting rid of the old oil, buying the new oil, getting under the car, get the tool, etc that will eat up at least 30 min or so, while I can just go in and out within the same amount of time. All that for saving at max $10?

With tire rotation, they add another $10 charge. But I won't need to worry about lifting the car to rotate the 4 tires, etc. Replacing wiper, maybe $15-$20? Well I just bought a set of wipers from Costco they cost me $16. If I need to replace the wipers now, sure, I'll DIY. But if the car is already in the shop for something else, might just as well have them do it. Same with cabin filter, engine filter, etc.

Of course the largest potential saving is if you have larger job. But I don't have the tool nor the skill, nor the inclination to invest on getting the tools to do sometime that at most needs to be done once every few years. So the touted savings for DIY are just not there for me.

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Michael Patrick
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Michael Patrick » Wed May 15, 2019 11:59 am

I've been taking my cars to the same dealer I've been buying them from for the last 20 years. And I've been working with the same service rep for that whole time. I've gotten to know him well enough over the years that he called me with tax questions when he was the executor on his Dad's estate.

I don't get the hard upsell from him. He's willing to triage the needed work (fix this, this other thing can wait). He even suggested I take a car he knew I would be trading in in a couple of months to a budget muffler shop because he knew it didn't make sense to use OEM pipes on a car that I wasn't going to own for long.

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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed May 15, 2019 12:33 pm

Dealer mechanics are not some sort of magical unicorn wizards. Many are right out of vocational school or places like UTI and sure, they do have long time mechanics. Some of the best go on their own and open a shop and become the trusted independent mechanic like I use.

Recent dealer experience: I was having a short block (essentially the engine minus the heads and accessories) replaced under warranty. I asked for a loaner car and was told by the service appointment scheduler that I could not get one authorized because the service was less than 3 hours. Well, I struggled to not spit my coffee all over my office. So they're going to remove the engine, remove all the accessories from the engine. Remove the heads from the engine, put all that stuff back onto the new engine and get it back in the car in under 3 hours. I asked if I could video this because I'm sure there's a Guinness world record to be had here. C/N: The scheduler had zero idea what this service involved. My independent guy would never have made that kind of silly claim.
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dm200
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by dm200 » Wed May 15, 2019 12:38 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 12:33 pm
Dealer mechanics are not some sort of magical unicorn wizards. Many are right out of vocational school or places like UTI and sure, they do have long time mechanics. Some of the best go on their own and open a shop and become the trusted independent mechanic like I use.

Recent dealer experience: I was having a short block (essentially the engine minus the heads and accessories) replaced under warranty. I asked for a loaner car and was told by the service appointment scheduler that I could not get one authorized because the service was less than 3 hours. Well, I struggled to not spit my coffee all over my office. So they're going to remove the engine, remove all the accessories from the engine. Remove the heads from the engine, put all that stuff back onto the new engine and get it back in the car in under 3 hours. I asked if I could video this because I'm sure there's a Guinness world record to be had here. C/N: The scheduler had zero idea what this service involved. My independent guy would never have made that kind of silly claim.
What was the final result? How long did this (replacing the short block) actually take? The claim was silly, indeed.

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msi
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by msi » Wed May 15, 2019 12:44 pm

I use a local mechanic when the car is out of warranty.

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JupiterJones
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by JupiterJones » Wed May 15, 2019 12:48 pm

Here's my story:

I used to just use the "stealership" for warranty/recall work and oil changes (and only because there's a specific crush washer that needs to be replaced at every oil change on my car that indy places won't always have or use). Mostly I did repairs myself, except for the heavy-duty or pain-in-butt repairs that I would take to some local shop.

Then my 15-year-old car developed a "clunk".

I couldn't figure out what was causing it, so I took it to the guy down the block that I've had good luck with before. After charging me a small fortune to replace the struts, even he admitted that it only fixed it a bit. He was stumped beyond that.

Next I took it to a non-dealer chain shop that I've used before for tires and stuff. They took a look at it and suggested replacing a few other things, which I had them do (for more $$$). Still didn't fix it.

So I finally caved and schlepped off to the dealership. I explained the symptoms and mentioned that I had taken it to two other places who couldn't figure it out.

He thought about it for about a half a second and immediately asked, "did you check the compliance bushing?"

Which, of course, was exactly (and, once you knew what to look for, painfully obviously) the problem. They fixed it quickly and for a slightly-high-but-not-terrible price. Apparently that part is a trouble-maker in my car, and he'd seen enough of them to jump to it right away.

The moral of the story is that, despite their flaws, a dealership's repair department specializes in the vehicles that are sold there and sometimes has a level of expert knowledge about your make and model that generic repair joints might not. In this particular case at least, had I just gone to the dealership right off the bat, I would've saved myself a lot of time and money.
Stay on target...

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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by TheOscarGuy » Wed May 15, 2019 2:03 pm

armeliusc wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 11:46 am

I am not so sure. There is some kind of "economy of scale" at work here that, at least in my case, make that saving from DIY is not worth it. For example, my local mechanic charge me about $40 for oil change, which I need to do every ~8 months. I can probably save $5 - $10 with DIY but then I have to worry about getting rid of the old oil, buying the new oil, getting under the car, get the tool, etc that will eat up at least 30 min or so, while I can just go in and out within the same amount of time. All that for saving at max $10?

With tire rotation, they add another $10 charge. But I won't need to worry about lifting the car to rotate the 4 tires, etc. Replacing wiper, maybe $15-$20? Well I just bought a set of wipers from Costco they cost me $16. If I need to replace the wipers now, sure, I'll DIY. But if the car is already in the shop for something else, might just as well have them do it. Same with cabin filter, engine filter, etc.

Of course the largest potential saving is if you have larger job. But I don't have the tool nor the skill, nor the inclination to invest on getting the tools to do sometime that at most needs to be done once every few years. So the touted savings for DIY are just not there for me.
Your maintenance costs seem lower than what I typically pay. For example, $20 for tire rotation, $60-70 for fully synthetic oil change, ~$40 for wiper blades. If I were paying that low prices, maybe I would not want to change it and keep paying them and not do work myself. For reference, I am in a large metro area.

For dealerships though, and that was kind of my point, getting higher quotes for regular items, and unnecessary items pushed as 'something you should do in your this/next visit' is the norm, not the exception. As I said, good independent mechanics won't charge you as high prices, will likely get better quality of work done, and will not up sell you. Ofcourse, finding one is easier said than done.

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dm200
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by dm200 » Fri May 17, 2019 8:21 am

~$40 for wiper blades


The local auto parts chain will assist to install wiper blades you purchase there. Sometimes, I can do it myself - and sometimes I need their free assistance. :)

blackcat allie
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by blackcat allie » Fri May 17, 2019 8:36 am

Do chain express places like Jiffy Lube report maintenance to Carfax?

My car is due for only oil change, but it''s still under warranty. I'm under the impression it looks better on Carfax to have things done at dealer.
I would even bite the bullet and pay a few extra pesos, but there is a longer wait at dealer.
Thanks in advance
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by TheOscarGuy » Fri May 17, 2019 8:49 am

dm200 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 8:21 am
~$40 for wiper blades


The local auto parts chain will assist to install wiper blades you purchase there. Sometimes, I can do it myself - and sometimes I need their free assistance. :)
I was quoting costs I used to get when I didn't work on my own car :-)

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri May 17, 2019 8:53 am

dm200 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 12:38 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 12:33 pm
Dealer mechanics are not some sort of magical unicorn wizards. Many are right out of vocational school or places like UTI and sure, they do have long time mechanics. Some of the best go on their own and open a shop and become the trusted independent mechanic like I use.

Recent dealer experience: I was having a short block (essentially the engine minus the heads and accessories) replaced under warranty. I asked for a loaner car and was told by the service appointment scheduler that I could not get one authorized because the service was less than 3 hours. Well, I struggled to not spit my coffee all over my office. So they're going to remove the engine, remove all the accessories from the engine. Remove the heads from the engine, put all that stuff back onto the new engine and get it back in the car in under 3 hours. I asked if I could video this because I'm sure there's a Guinness world record to be had here. C/N: The scheduler had zero idea what this service involved. My independent guy would never have made that kind of silly claim.
What was the final result? How long did this (replacing the short block) actually take? The claim was silly, indeed.
2 and a half weeks. :D
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researcher
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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by researcher » Fri May 17, 2019 2:02 pm

blackcat allie wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 8:36 am
I'm under the impression it looks better on Carfax to have things done at dealer.
I would even bite the bullet and pay a few extra pesos, but there is a longer wait at dealer.
What do you mean by this?

As long as you keep your receipts to show prospective buyers, who cares if it shows up on Carfax or not?

Besides, if you trade it in, the dealership won't care at all. And if you sell private party, the buyer is likely not going to pay to run a Carfax anyway.

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Re: Dealer or Local Mechanic?

Post by BogleMelon » Fri May 17, 2019 3:18 pm

Story #1
I have a 2009 used Sonata that I bought in 2014. It shows that the previous owner had its transmission replaced at 60K miles at independent chain mechanic. after a couple of years of buying it, a check engine came on showing a transmission error. All the mechanics insisted that I should rebuild the transmission (Despite that the shifting was still perfect). With some googling, I decided to have its transmission changed, and I didn't trust any mechanic to do it. I went to the dealership, got charged a very reasonable fee, since then no issues.

Story #2
The same Sonata again needed a belt and tensioner change. I got a quote from what I thought a trusted mechanic only to find that it would cost less at the dealership! I paid him for the diagnosis (since I didn't know before that it was the belt) and thanked him and never went back. I went to another mechanic that is cheaper than both (the dealership and the old mechanic) and got it replaced

Story #3
I bought 2016 used Mazda 3 for my DW with one fob key. I bought another unprogrammed fob over eBay. I went to a AAA local locksmith to get it programmed. They failed and claimed it was the key itself since it is aftermarket. They denied refunding. I then went to the dealership, they programmed the same aftermarket key in no time and charged a reasonable fee (Had I bought the key from them, I would pay way more).

Not saying that you always trust the dealership, but it looks like there is no way around doing extensive research every time your car needed something. I hate that and wish I can find a really good and trusted mechanic who charge reasonable prices.
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

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