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  1. #1
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    Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    Obviously car sales must be down which has led to dealerships figuring out they can rape the consumer on repairs which has moved to most repair shops at least in the central Iowa area and I'm sure it is everywhere.

    I have always pretty much worked on my own vehicles and offer to help others out when they need work on their vehicles. I am surprised what I have run across in the last couple years from repair shop estimates and then what I find on my own. Here are some examples:

    1. Friend's wife took a 2 yr old Dodge van with 22K miles on it to Tuffy's because her front brakes were squeaking. She left there with a $900 estimate which included new rotors, new pads, change out brake fluid(WTH) and a couple other bogus jobs. He asked me to look at it. I took the wheels off and the pads still had 75% life, the rotors still looked brand new and changing out the brake fluid is the biggest sham I have heard to date. I took a hose to the wheels and took the pads off and cleaned them and squealing stopped. Some dust probably got on the pad. She was ready to get it done before he asked me about it before they dropped it off.

    2. Neighbor was having a vibration problem in their engine. I looked at it and it was obviously a bearing going out in the alternator. She takes it to local Chrysler dealer and they tell here $749 + tax to replace the alternator but they wonder if it was the lower end of the engine with the bearing going bad so who knows where that would have stopped. I bought a lifetime warranty alternator at Autozone for $169 and it took me a couple hours to replace(tearing out, driving to get, putting back together).

    3. Friend pays $450 to have the front brakes done on his Honda. They replaced the rotors and the brake pads. I asked him if the car was braking smoothly when he took it in. He said it was. I asked him why they told him he needed to replace the rotors and he said he was told there was rust on the outside of the rotors. Lesson 1 today....... If you get your brakes fixed when you start to hear the squeal consistently, all you need to do is replace your brake pads unless you have lurching when you push on the brake pedal. If you wait until you hear and feel metal on metal when you brake then it's too late and you will be replacing rotors. I told him you can by brake pads with a lifetime warranty for $39.95 and it takes 45 minutes tops to replace the pads. Needless to say I will be doing his brakes from now on.

    4. Couple years ago my fuel pump went out of my S10 pickup. Local repair shop wanted $1,200 to replace it. I bought the pump through NAPA for $243 and it took me a Saturday to replace.

    I could go on and on but the post is too long already. It frustrates me that this stuff goes on. I know especially in an area like Central Iowa there are not a lot of people that know much about maintenance so it is easy to try and get a quick buck of their customers doing maintenance/repairs not needed....like replacing brake fluid. I know there are good shops in the area that won't bend you over the fencepost in their repairs / maintenance. Just want to give people the heads up.

    Anybody else have any horror maintenance stories?
    Anybody have any repair shops where they know the place isn't a ripoff artist?

    One place I will never take a vehicle to is Tuffy's. I have heard too many stories about them to know my vehicle will never see that joint if I have come across something I can't fix myself.

    Trustworthy Shops per fellow CF'ers:

    Tott's in Sioux City
    Ted's Auto in Norwalk
    Denny's Auto in Ames
    Stewart's Performance in Cedar Rapids


    Last edited by Cyclonesrule91; 09-18-2010 at 07:18 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    Its because the repair shop guys want to get paid $75/hr.


    Hooray for Metaphors!

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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    I thank God that I can do a little work on cars. It has saved me a ton. Just last winter I had to replace a fuel pump in my pickup. A buddy and I did it in a day. It cost me around $300 + beer and steaks all said and done. The Napa garage in Ankeny wanted $1200 to do it.

    A guy I work with continues to get raped by dealer garages over and over but never learns.

    My next project is replacing the intake manifold gasket. I have never done one before but will save about $600 doing it myself.


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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cymon View Post
    I thank God that I can do a little work on cars. It has saved me a ton. Just last winter I had to replace a fuel pump in my pickup. A buddy and I did it in a day. It cost me around $300 + beer and steaks all said and done. The Napa garage in Ankeny wanted $1200 to do it.

    A guy I work with continues to get raped by dealer garages over and over but never learns.

    My next project is replacing the intake manifold gasket. I have never done one before but will save about $600 doing it myself.
    Because we have this way of thinking in society that we can trust businesses. Its really too bad its not like that. We have a local place here that I take my vehicles to for more in depth repairs and I fully trust them. I have a rough idea what it would cost going in and they are always fair. Heck, alot of times if there is a rattle or noise, they fix it for free. They love doing what they do and it shows. The Auto Dealers and Jiffy Lube places are only out to squeeze every dollar they can out of you.



  5. #5
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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cymon View Post
    My next project is replacing the intake manifold gasket. I have never done one before but will save about $600 doing it myself.
    Did that on a 98 S10 ZR2 4 yrs ago and it was a pretty easy job. If nothing else, get a Chiltons manual and it walks you through it in pretty simple steps.



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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by bos View Post
    Because we have this way of thinking in society that we can trust businesses. Its really too bad its not like that. We have a local place here that I take my vehicles to for more in depth repairs and I fully trust them. I have a rough idea what it would cost going in and they are always fair. Heck, alot of times if there is a rattle or noise, they fix it for free. They love doing what they do and it shows. The Auto Dealers and Jiffy Lube places are only out to squeeze every dollar they can out of you.
    And what is the repair shop that you work with? A little plug for them and I can even put the ones getting good referrals up in the original post.



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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    It is irritating that rip-offs are taking place, but "doing it yourself" is simply not an option for many so there is a need to know and find honest shops.


    CCG

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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclonesrule91 View Post
    And what is the repair shop that you work with? A little plug for them and I can even put the ones getting good referrals up in the original post.

    Tott's here in Sioux City. Family owned shop and a bunch of good guys.



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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    I took my cars to Downtown Tire in CR, a Goodyear shop, for almost 20 years. They had a manager who had been there many years and knew most of his customers by name. He left and the place went downhill quickly.

    I first started to doubt them when they told me my car needed new shocks with only 37k miles on it. The shocks were not leaking and still haven't. That car now has 137k miles on it.

    Next time we went there my wife dropped it off for an oil change and tire rotation. She picked up it after work, paid and thought something was fishy when she got back to the car because it was in the same spot, didn't look like it had been moved and they hadn't changed the window sticker. (Looking back, that was a pretty good observation for a chick). She went back in and asked if they had actually serviced the vehicle because it didn't look like they had. "Oh....uhhhh....I guess we didn't. Real sorry about that. If you've got about ten minutes we'll get four guys to tag team on it and get you right out of here." Keep in mind, she had actually paid and they had gladly sent her on her merry way after having done nothing to the vehicle. They finished after a short while and said for her troubles they would not charge her for the tire rotation. She told them we had purchased lifetime tire rotation on that vehicle (again, a good pick up for a chick, right?). "No you didn't," they said, and sent her off. The next morning I called and said yeah, I can't remember if I bought the lifetime tire rotation on my car, can you look it up? Sure...yep you did it's right here. So on this one visit they knowingly took our money for doing nothing and flat-out lied to my wife about the tire rotation.

    I don't know why, but I gave them another chance since I'd been going there so long. I guess my hope was they were under new management and still getting their act together. I took my other car in for an oil change, transmission service and I'd been having trouble with the radiator so they were going to replace it. A few weeks later I had to take it to the dealer for a recall and they did a free inspection on it while it was there. They said the coolant was full of rust and contaminants and the transmission looked like it had never been serviced, judging by how dirty the fluid was. I stood there and watched them draw it out so I know they were not lying. I said that's impossible, I just had a new radiator installed and the transmission serviced two weeks ago. They said the radiator looks new, but if we had to guess it looks like they filled it up with used coolant. And the transmission has never been serviced, we can tell by the color and how dirty the fluid is. Oh, and by the way, they didn't fasten the new radiator in, they just attached the top and bottom hoses and left it hanging loose in there. Nice.

    So back I went to Goodyear, told them they were going to lose a long time customer if they didn't make this right. They said we'll look at it right away and call you. Two hours later they called and I went over, I worked right next door. They said I don't know what that dealer was telling you, but they are liars. Here's your nice clean coolant and beautiful clean transmission fluid. I said well yeah, now you've had two hours to cover your tracks. I vowed to never go back.

    About 6-7 years later I needed new tires. It was winter and a big ice storm was coming. I figured I'd better get them before that big storm hit. I called a few places and found my old "friends" at Goodyear were the only ones with my tire size in stock that could do it the same day. I begrudgingly gave them my business again. They screwed up and put the white letters in, I wanted them out, but I was still happy with the tires and the price so I didn't ***** about it. A couple days later I go out to the garage to get something and hear a loud hissing sound. One of my brand spanking new tires was flat. I popped on the spare and took it over to Goodyear. No worries, I thought. I bought the road hazard warranty. They took it in and said we'll get it fixed right up. Couple hours later I picked it up. That'll be $20, they said. For what? Fixing your tire. But I had the road hazard warranty? Road hazard doesn't cover repairs, only covers replacement if the tire is completely destroyed. I've since found out this is actually correct so the moral of that story is don't buy the road hazard warranty because it's worthless. Anyway, I threw a fit (there was no one else there) and told them that was BS (I used the real word too - a big step for me since I'm not a confrontational person). I told them this was the 3rd time they'd f'd me over (again - used the real word) and I was never coming back. The honest to God response was,"Good." So you can see how they value their longtime customers.



  10. #10
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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    Oh man, don't get me started.
    Living in Minneapolis I had a 99 Saab and got railed for almost $6000 over two years of repairs. Part of it was the car sucking, but mostly my inability to repair and going to the wrong places. Final straw for me was a problem I was having (3 years ago and details are lost to me) with a bearing or something in the front wheel. Went to Morries Mazda/Saab dealer/repair. Repair was about $600 and when I got the car back... the brakes hardly worked and I nearly rear-ended a car on the interstate. Turned around and had them look at it. Wanted to replace/fix about half the brake system + other stuff for like $1200 and said there was NO WAY it was their fault. Took my car to an independent (non-commission) shop called Braden automotive. Looked at it for free. Told me the master cylinder primary valve was leaking. Offered to take it to a metal machiner who could bore it out slightly in an attempt to make the first valve able to seal again. Said he had done it repeatedly on his old classic cars master cylinders that you couldn't get replacements for. Bore to a slightly bigger size and use a larger piston. Did that for free. Didn't work so I went with a replacement. Showed me my part out of my car before/after and also new when it went in. Explained all the inner workings and why it failed. Easily half the price of the dealer. Took that car back a few more times to Braden since with great results.

    It's still cheaper to do it on your own, I know. Thankfully someone totaled my saab and I got a 2005 Vibe (matrix) and haven't done anything to it but change the oil. It's a much simpler motor and my dad is a car nut and can help me with repairs when I'm back home. For instance, replacing the rear struts on a car once - got an estimate from Tires Plus in Ames... soemthing like $400+, we did it ourselves one afternoon for about $75-100.

    CyclonesRule91 I wished I lived near you. If I ever move back to Ames/DM I will stalk you, cool?



  11. #11
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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    You've hit on one of my all time most hated business.....auto repair.

    As some background, I have about 10 years experience in selling auto parts, first at a locally owned parts store chain (which is now defunct) and then for a few years with a more national chain. Obviously, we would sell parts to repair shops and dealerships because they didn't always have the stuff they needed. Well, they would call us up and look for the cheapest parts, but always ask what the "list" price is. The reason being that they would charge their customers the "list" price, but only pay retail or slightly less, if they do a lot of business with that particular store. If another store had a wider difference between the retail and "list" price, they would buy from them, no matter what the cost was. I mean, you could have an alternator with a retail price of $130, but it would have a "list" price of $300! So the repair shop would make $170 profit just for going out and hunting down the part for you, THEN charge the labor on top of that.

    When I worked at the parts stores, I always thought it was unethical that the repair shops were making money off of the sale of the part to the unsuspecting car owner.

    I learned at about 18 years old that I needed to do my own car work (before I started working at parts stores). It came when I took my 88 Camaro to the All-Pro Service Center on Meredith to have them fix an oil leak. It was leaking a few drips a day. They told me it was the oil pressure sending unit, so I told them to go ahead and replace it. That was about $150. Got it back and it was still leaking. Took it back to them and they said "well, it looks like the sending unit was leaking, but so is the oil pump, so we would have to tear down the engine to replace it and that would be about $900". I say....umm, OK, time for a second opinion. Took it to Bob Brown and they said it was the oil pressure sending unit. I told them to replace it, and paid it again. They gave me the old part, and it certainly was not new-ish like I had expected it to be, since it had just been "replaced" by All Pro two weeks prior.

    It wasn't until later, while learning about the inner workings of engines and cars that I realized All Pro was feeding me a line of **** about the oil pump, as there is no way a leaky pump would be seen outside of the engine. Not only that, but replacing an oil sending unit is literally about a 10 minute job, and they were charging more than an hour of labor to do it.

    Anyway, ever since then I've done all my work on my own cars. Intake manifold gaskets, alternators, heater cores, brakes (brakes are SO easy to do, those shops make a fortune off of unsuspecting car owners based on fear tactics when most vehicles don't need the brake system overhauls that they're being sold), exhaust, fuel pumps, batteries, etc. etc. I've saved a ton of money doing work on my own, and have used that saved money to build up quite a collection of specialty tools and such. Only things I won't mess with are the A/C system (vacuum and recharge, replacing the parts is easy) and the internals of transmissions aside from the filter kits.

    The long and short of it is.....find someone who is competent at working on cars, pay them a modest hourly fee to do minor work on your vehicle, and you'll save a LOT of money.



  12. #12
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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    Honda dealerships are the biggest joke. Oil Change $45 first time I went there. They had to put special Honda oil in it. Only reason I got it changed there was because of a recall I had done.

    Ted's Auto in Norwalk... By far the best place and most trusting place I have found. I asked Honda how much changing all 4 break pads were. They quoted me at $500 but they the rotors might need replaced too.

    Walked into Ted's and he was around $175 for all four and no rotors needed replaced. What was funny, he couldn't get the regular brake pads so he upgraded to the "lifetime" break pads at no extra charge. Only things he could get and he had me quoted on price. He then rotated my tires even though I didn't buy them there.

    Very good people there.



  13. #13
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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    I thank the lord that my dad was a mechanic for 40 some years as I have learned quite a bit from him. I don't know everything about cars, but enough to not get screwed by any garage.

    I was getting my oil changed a while back and the place that I go to always runs a batter check to see how well the battery is keeping a charge. of course I said no when they wanted to sell me a new because I didn't want to pay $130 bucks for an Interstate battery when I can get a battery at Costco for about half the price that does the same job.

    Their big sales pitch to me was this: "Well just to let you know, when the car is running, the battery doesn't have enough power to run anything, just the alternator."

    Well NO ****!!! That's the whole purpose of the alternator!!!



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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by asmosis View Post
    CyclonesRule91 I wished I lived near you. If I ever move back to Ames/DM I will stalk you, cool?
    I have offered to help people I barely know because it is such a pet peeve of mine. You, or anybody on this site can send me a PM or ask me a question anytime. I know about most things and if I don't I get a hold of one of my best friends who has been a GM certified mechanic for 15 yrs and just recently went on his own. If I don't know it, I'll find out from him.


    Last edited by Cyclonesrule91; 09-17-2010 at 10:13 AM.

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    Re: Car Maintenance / Repair Ripoffs (long)

    I only have one horror story from a repair shop, but I never, ever, have anyone else fix anything, unless it is absolutely beyond me. I also have a local shop that is honest and doesn't try to snow you on what you need.

    The last time I took a car to the shop was when the clutch on my Focus exploded, spring popped out and got jambed between clutch and faceplate, and this guy was a couple blocks away, so i thought I would give him a chance. He gives me an estimate of $750 or so, and I give him my keys. The car was at this guys shop for an entire month. I have an MG that I can drive, and it was summer so, not a huge deal. After two weeks I call and he is having trouble figure out how to get the tranny out, but he thinks he has it figured out now. I was going on an annual fishing trip to Canada, so, I told him I needed when I got back. 10 days later I call him and he says he has been too busy helping people in Cedar Rapids with the flood to get my car done! Now I felt bad for everyone in CR too, but it wasn't like he hadn't put me off before. Anyway a week later it is finally done with a bill for $1200, because he had to work so long on it and because there were extra pieces he had to buy. The sad part is that I am sure I could have done it myself over a weekend, if I had a hoist to lift the car.



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