PDA

View Full Version : Auto Repairs: How do you get them done?



Ltlabner
03-15-2007, 07:39 AM
Are you a shade tree mechanic or always go to the dealer sorta person? Independant shops? Some mixture?

Mine always go to the dealer for several reasons. (1) They are usually always under warrenty (2) one of the two is an import (3) I have zero interest in learning how to do any signifigant work on my autos

rotnoid
03-15-2007, 08:05 AM
For me, it's a little of both. I have some mechanical know-how, but not a ton. If it's something I can do, the test is usually whether or not I'd be willing to pay someone to do if for me. I don't necessarily enjoy working on cars, but I don't hate it either. It's all about cost and opportunity.

macro
03-15-2007, 08:09 AM
If it's under warranty, it goes to the dealership, obviously. If not, I either take it to a local shop or try to catch my brother-in-law when he's in town. He has saved me more than a few dollars over the years with his knowledge and skills, even though he's not a mechanic by trade.

If I know which part is faulty and can get to it without crawling underneath and without taking the engine apart, I'll replace it myself. That's rarely the case, though.

zombie-a-go-go
03-15-2007, 08:16 AM
Funny this should come up. I'm in the position of knowing that my alternator needs replaced, and am considering pulling it out and replacing it myself, but I've never done a lick of work on a car before. On the other hand, I'm not completely stupid and it looks easy to get to. Decisions, decisions...

Roy Tucker
03-15-2007, 09:14 AM
Back in the day, I used to do a lot of my own work on my cars. It was from necessity since I couldn't really afford to take it into the shop. Many a day (or night) happened where I was out in the apartment parking lot laying under my car in a 35 degree rain storm or other not-so-pleasant weather.

But that was in the pre-car-computer days when I could open the hood and identify most of what was there, knew how it functioned, and had the tools to fix it (basic wrenches, sockets, screw driver, big hammer, etc). The day when cars still had carburetors.

Nowadays, I lift the hood and am hard-pressed to identify just what everything is. Also, since much of modern day cars is computerized, it takes a laptop with software and special connectors to hook into the car and run diagnostics. Finally, there are a lot of special tools needed to effect repairs.

Bottom line, I usually take it to a dealer to have major work done and a Jiffy Lube-type place for oil changes.

I could do routine maintenance myself (change oil, etc.) but I'm getting older and the thought of laying on my cold concrete floor fumbling with drain plugs and filters doesn't appeal to me. I'd rather pay the $25 to have someone else to it.

Now you kids all get the heck off my lawn.

Dom Heffner
03-15-2007, 09:34 AM
I don't know anything about cars, man. If my car breaks down, and I don't see that little "E" on the dashboard, I'm out of luck. But if that "E" is there, man, I act all cocky. I'm like "I got this one under control!" Then I pull out the toolbox, AKA wallet. I'd make a crappy auto mechanic. People would bring their car in to me and say, "My car won't start." "Well maybe there's a killer after you!"

:)

westofyou
03-15-2007, 10:34 AM
Back in the day, I used to do a lot of my own work on my cars. It was from necessity since I couldn't really afford to take it into the shop. Many a day (or night) happened where I was out in the apartment parking lot laying under my car in a 35 degree rain storm or other not-so-pleasant weather.

But that was in the pre-car-computer days when I could open the hood and identify most of what was there, knew how it functioned, and had the tools to fix it (basic wrenches, sockets, screw driver, big hammer, etc). The day when cars still had carburetors.

Nowadays, I lift the hood and am hard-pressed to identify just what everything is. Also, since much of modern day cars is computerized, it takes a laptop with software and special connectors to hook into the car and run diagnostics. Finally, there are a lot of special tools needed to effect repairs.

Bottom line, I usually take it to a dealer to have major work done and a Jiffy Lube-type place for oil changes.

I could do routine maintenance myself (change oil, etc.) but I'm getting older and the thought of laying on my cold concrete floor fumbling with drain plugs and filters doesn't appeal to me. I'd rather pay the $25 to have someone else to it.

Now you kids all get the heck off my lawn.

Yep.... my story exactly

I drove across the country once in a Scirroco that the points closed every 75 miles, I would have to space them at every breakdown with a matchbook cover and a pen knife.

My wife still talks about it to this day.

Sea Ray
03-15-2007, 10:45 AM
If a repair is not covered under warranty be very wary of taking it to a dealer.

My car has 15K miles on it and I called the dealer to ask if an alignment was covered under warranty. They said not generally but usually a new car doesn't need alignments. It's probably just a tire pressure thing or something a tire rotation could fix. Bring it in and we'll be glad to check it out for you.

Well they ended up charging me for their test drive, tire rotation and alignment to go along with their standard shop charges...it was $150 before they were done with it.

A place like Bob Sumerall will do a front end alignment for $50 and I bet they'd throw in the tire rotation since it's on the lift anyway. And you can not do an alignment w/o trest driving it.

Well that was a "test" for that dealer. That dealer will not get another cent of non warranty work from me in the future. They blew it.

SunDeck
03-15-2007, 12:07 PM
I used to dabble, but when I got married and my wife directed my activities more towards home remodeling and I decided to skip the auto work. Don't even change the oil any more.

When I was living in Cincinnati, my knowledge of the right mechanic for the right job on the west side of town was vast. For that matter, if you name a problem, I can probably give you a recommendation on just about any problem involving home or car. And I'll even plug one here- West Side Auto Service- run by a good guy with a smart crew.
But now I'm in Bloomington with little knowledge of the local landscape and my fear of knuckle draggers with a torque wrench forces me to go to dealers. I know I'm getting fleeced, but that's the price of using a dealer. The up side to it is that my luck with dealers here has been very good.

KronoRed
03-15-2007, 02:05 PM
Funny this should come up. I'm in the position of knowing that my alternator needs replaced, and am considering pulling it out and replacing it myself, but I've never done a lick of work on a car before. On the other hand, I'm not completely stupid and it looks easy to get to. Decisions, decisions...

Go to a junk yard to practice.

You can do it :D

MaineRed
03-15-2007, 02:07 PM
A place like Bob Sumerall will do a front end alignment for $50 and I bet they'd throw in the tire rotation since it's on the lift anyway.

Good one. I never heard of Bob Sumerall but any place I've ever been will charge about $6 to rotate each tire. That is $24 minimum.

Sure they have it on the lift, you want an oil change while it is up there for free too? That would take less time than rotating four tires. I may be wrong about the specific place you mentioned, but I'd be surprised. Why are they going to give you 10 or 15 minutes of free labor just because your car is on the lift? Where do you draw the line? Rotate tires, change the oil, do a brake job, fix the exhaust. It all takes time, why should an alignment get you anything free?

Sea Ray
03-15-2007, 03:45 PM
Good one. I never heard of Bob Sumerall but any place I've ever been will charge about $6 to rotate each tire. That is $24 minimum.

Sure they have it on the lift, you want an oil change while it is up there for free too? That would take less time than rotating four tires. I may be wrong about the specific place you mentioned, but I'd be surprised. Why are they going to give you 10 or 15 minutes of free labor just because your car is on the lift? Where do you draw the line? Rotate tires, change the oil, do a brake job, fix the exhaust. It all takes time, why should an alignment get you anything free?

You seem to have missed my point. The difference did NOT hang on whether the tires were rotated for free. Even if it was $25, the dealer was still 100% higher than the "tire shop."

As for free rotations, I can't remember the last time I was charged for a rotation. Sometimes my brake guy does it when he's checking my squeaky brakes, sometimes Costco does it, sometimes I'll use a coupon for a free rotation. There are plenty of those around. Sure, a place has every right to charge for a rotation. My point is in my experience they often don't.

In summary, my experience is the dealer will charge full retail on everything and your backyard shop will tend to be a little more reasonable.

IslandRed
03-15-2007, 03:56 PM
In summary, my experience is the dealer will charge full retail on everything and your backyard shop will tend to be a little more reasonable.

That's probably true as a rule, but not all dealer service departments -- or dealers -- are equal. You'll probably pay about the same anywhere for manufacturer-specified interval services, but as for the rest of it, the "screw factor" varies widely. Some places look at you as a cow to be milked, others want you to buy your next car there and do business accordingly. I've been pretty happy with the particular Honda dealer where I have the maintenance done. Having said that, I'd have no qualms about going to a good Japanese-import independent shop, were I to find one I'd trust to know as much about the car as the dealer guys do.

MaineRed
03-15-2007, 04:01 PM
I wasn't talking about backyards shots. I used to have an old truck and a guy that worked for the town as the town mechanic worked part time out of his garage and charged $15 an hour. I've since bought new and have had no problems.

This is the kind of place I was referring to:

http://www.vipauto.com/

They charge around $55 for an alignment and I know they charge 5 or 6 bucks to rotate the tires. But they recommend an alignment every 6,000 miles while the dealer told me 30,000.

So listen to the discout shop and you'll spend $250 every 30,000 miles while having to take the car in 5 times as many times.

I don't mean to make it sound like dealers are the way to go. Every deal is different. Some treat people nice and charge somewhat fair prices while others are rip off artist. The dealer is the snake selling you the car, so .....

My point was the discout places don't do quality work from my experience but again, I don't know what Bob Summeral is.

Another reason why Seinfeld was a such a great show. This is another storyline they covered, finding a good mechanic. Brilliant.

MaineRed
03-15-2007, 04:03 PM
I wish I had seen your post Island before I posted as you said what I wanted to say about the dealers being different.

No doubt, if you don't like the dealership because of a bad experience, screw em.

Sea Ray
03-15-2007, 04:08 PM
That's probably true as a rule, but not all dealer service departments -- or dealers -- are equal.


They sure aren't. I'll use the example of west side Cincinnati vs east side. The Chrysler dealer on the east side thinks your car is over the hill at 90K miles while the west siders think it's just broken in.

When I had a "condensation" problem in my rear tailight the east side guys said we'll replace the lens for $350. The west side dealer said, sure we can do that or we can drain the water out of it by drilling holes in the back of it and then seal the holes in epoxy, $65. I never could tell where they drained it and I never had another problem with it.

Example 2: I had a "cranky" power antenna. I asked the east side dealer if I could buy just the antenna since the motor was still working fine. Answer, no, they only sell the whole thing as a set, $300. I call the west side dealer answer: Sure, they sell just the metal antenna and plastic lead on it for $80.

GAC
03-15-2007, 08:41 PM
If you want to get ripped off, then go to the dealership. They especially prey on people who don't know squat about automobiles. I use to go to them and act like I didn't know anything just to see what they'd tell me. It was amazing some of the responses I'd get as to what was wrong with my car, when I knew what they problem was. I took my Mercury in a couple years ago because the "Check Engine" light came on. The told me I needed a new catalytic converter (around $1200 total). I took it to my mechanic and he put it on his tester and found a short in a wire (under $100). ;)

They have tried to take advantage of my Mom on numerous occassions. I guess thinking they are dealing with an elderly lady they could get away with it. They just didn't realize she has three sons who know automobiles and advice her.

I do the routine maintenance on my vehicles myself. But they have made cars so computerized, and made cars today so hard to work on, it's hard anymore to "do it yourself". It use to be no big deal to replace a starter, radiator, and numerous other basic equipment. Nowadays, once you pop the hod, you can't even find it.

I have a local mechanic that I have come to trust. You need to build that loyalty. He gets all my business and he knows it. So he treats me right and gives me good deals. I know when I go into the guy he's not gonna give me the runaround or try to sell me needless repairs.

pedro
03-15-2007, 10:45 PM
I take my car (VW Jetta) to an independent shop down the street that specializes in german cars. It's nice because I can walk to/from the shop.

GAC
03-16-2007, 08:00 AM
I love tinkering with anything that involves high impact explosions. It's my passion. :mooner:

SunDeck
03-16-2007, 08:09 AM
They sure aren't. I'll use the example of west side Cincinnati vs east side. The Chrysler dealer on the east side thinks your car is over the hill at 90K miles while the west siders think it's just broken in.



How true. And on the West Side, you open your mason jar and pay your mechanic cash when the job's done. On the East Side, you ask them to bill you, then you let them chase you around for 30 days while you move money out of your REIT and into your money market fund so you can write a check. :D

RFS62
03-16-2007, 08:11 AM
I take my car (VW Jetta) to an independent shop down the street that specializes in german cars. It's nice because I can walk to/from the shop.



Fahrvergnügen

:cool:

mth123
03-16-2007, 08:17 AM
I'm lucky to get the key in the ignition without breaking something. Strictly dealer or mechanic for me for even the simplest things.

15fan
03-16-2007, 08:53 AM
Knock on wood, we've had pretty good luck on our cars. Had a Volvo and several Hondas.

I followed the maintenance schedules pretty religiously on both cars. Used to go to a Precision Tune that was always fair with the price and good with the service. Then they sold the business to a new owner and I had a less than pleasant experience with them. 4 times they tried to fix something, and 4 times I had to take it back because the problem wasn't fixed.

Over the years, I've also had occasion to try different dealer service departments. You couldn't pay me to go back to a couple of them. But I've found one that has a well run shop and the prices on the basic maintenance seems to be pretty reasonable, so I've been going to them for everything. In fact, I had a couple things that needed checked out on my car (a 2002) about a month ago. Dealer took care of them and didn't charge me anything.

zombielady
03-30-2007, 12:51 PM
I just usually drive 'em til they die and get a new one... 'course I've never spent more than 4 grand on a car...

WebScorpion
03-30-2007, 05:48 PM
I used to always buy used cars and do all the maintenance and repair work myself. Then I bought a few new Toyotas and the only maintenance I did was the oil change and lube. Now I just don't have the time, I buy new cars only and usually buy another by the time the warranty expires, and all the maintenance is done by a dealer. One dealership (Their initials are Lustine Toyota) charges $80+ for regular maintenance on my Prius and 2 different dealers within a 45 minute drive (one is only 20 min) only charge $40.00 for the same maintenance, so all dealerships are definitely NOT the same, even with routine maintenance. Also, the Prius has different recommended air pressures for the front and rear tires...the expensive dealer doesn't adjust the pressure when they rotate the tires, but the cheaper ones both do. You lose somewhere between 2 and 5 mpg in gas mileage with the reversed air pressure. :eek: