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#1
Old 08-17-2002, 06:15 PM
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Stupid fucking predatory mechanic assholes* (long)

I'm leaving UVH (animal hospital, I buy my cats' food there) to go to the Tempe Petsmart when I notice my car is doing something odd. At first I thought it was the clutch because when I started out in first, it didn’t seem to want to go, and then again in second, third, etc. I'm almost to the Petsmart and it's still doing it, only now I think I'm smelling something. My gauges are all ok, except the battery one is almost on the bottom. I decide that I'm just going to go home and take the car to my mechanic on Monday morning.

I get in one of the two left turn lanes and stop at the light. When I stopped, so did they car. Dead. Won't turn over, nothing. There was also a weird like bubbling noise or something (I think) coming from the engine. I call my uncle get his AAA number for a tow. (side note: remind me Monday or Tuesday to get AAA for myself, no matter the cost). The only problem is I'm way out in Tempe and my mechanic is farther than they will tow. Ok, I ask them to just tow me to the closet repair shop they know of to my current location.

They take me to some AAA approved Goodyear repair center. They hook the car up to the diagnostic machine (quote of $89, unless it's the battery and then it's just $21). Come back 20mins later with good news/bad news. Good news is diagnostic is just $21, bad news is that not only do I need a new battery, but an alternator and serpentine belt as well. Est: $680 (parts and labour)

Yeah, that's what I said.

I got him to agree to give me the AAA discount even though I didn't have the card with me and that brought the total down to $640, then I guess he did some recalculating, or whatever, and the final estimate was $598 + tax. That seemed like quite a bit of money to me, but what do I know about cars? (The answer is nothing).

I called my ex because he knows about cars, and this car in particular. He told me they were trying to rip me off. He said there is no way an alternator should cost $250 for the part, nor should it take 2 hours of labour (at $82/hr) to replace. They quoted me $162 for labour alone if I supplied the alternator. $40 for the belt, and I don't remember how much they were going to charge me for the battery (probably my first born -- which would have been a nice fucking joke on them considering I'm not having children).

When I asked them (at my ex's request) why their alternator was so costly compared to an auto parts store, this is the story I got: the ones at Autozone, Checker, etc. have been rebuilt time and again, but the one they were going to use is on the 1st factory rebuild so it'll last longer than the 2mos the one I'd buy at those places would.

Yeah, that's what my ex said.

He told me to tell them to fuck off and tow my car to my mechanic. It might cost $80, but the cost of parts and repairs at my place would be a lot less so I'd still end up paying less than "AAA rated" place was quoting me.

I called up a towing company, they came and got me and my car and took me to my mechanics. He's not open on the weekend so I was going to leave my car there until Monday and call him in the morning when he opened. Or go down there with the key. Only problem is somehow at the repair place, they got my driver's side window down. I didn't know until we got to John's and now it won't go back up.

Strainger was kind enough to pick me up at John's to drive me home so I wouldn't have to walk. (Thank you, again!) He had jumper cables so we tried to give my battery enough juice to roll up the window, but it was a no go. I was concerned about leaving it two nights at the mechanics because it's not the nicest neighbourhood, but I didn't know what else to do.

I called my uncle again to see what he suggested (I was really stressing the window thing) and he suggested I call his framer (art framer, not a j'accuse kind of framer). I called him and told him my ordeal (he said "they saw you coming" when I told him the reasoning behind the $250 alternator). He's helping one friend replace his battery right now, so when he's done with that, he'll come back on this side of Phoenix, pick me up, take me to get a battery, and put it in my car. He said with a fully charged battery, bad alternator or not, it will run for a couple days (without lights or a/c, but it'll run). Which means I can bring it home, roll up the window (unless that other place broke it somehow getting the window down -- fuckers), go to work on time and take it to my place on Monday if needed.

He also said he'd look at the alternator and if it was an easy repair, not with funky screw locations or whatever, he'd do it himself for under $100. (I think including the cost of the alternator). He said if it was really easy one he'd only charge me a 6-pack of beer... I told him I'd buy him a 12pk, and whatever damn beer he wanted.

So, while it seems to be ending ok, I'm still super fucking pissed at that "AAA Goodyear Repair Center" (Gruelichs on Elliot Rd in Tempe -- avoid it!). How fucking dare they try to rip me off! A trustworthy mechanic is worth triple his weight in gold. I love mine, and I swear by Godiva I will never take my car any place else again!


*Thank you Dire Wolf for the thread title.
#2
Old 08-17-2002, 07:40 PM
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What kind of car do you have?
#3
Old 08-17-2002, 09:09 PM
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1988 Chevy Cavelier. I got a battery for about $33, and my friend installed it for me. It started right up, but the alternator is still bad. We priced the alternator and belt while we were picking up the battery: alternator was about ~$70, and the belt ~$13.
#4
Old 08-17-2002, 10:16 PM
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Mauvaise, sorry to hear of your troubles.

[slight hijack]
I am very thankful that I am able to maintain my own car. The only jobs which I'll trust my car to a mechanic, are
(1) Front end alignments (special/expensive equipment required)
(yes, to you gearheads, I know I could do my own alignments in my garage - but the Professionals could do this in an hour & it might take me all day. Plus the job is nearly the same no matter what car, and you can find a million places around to do it... Whereas, finding someone who "can" work on your car, when it truly needs it, is sometimes problematic.)
(2) Transmissions, or any work involving removal of any of the engine/drivetrain in a front-wheel drive car: Do you remember those ancient "Midas" TV ads, with the monkeys sitting whacking on a transmission with sticks? Well, they'd probably do less damage in this sort of job than I would.
[/slight hijack]

My point in mentioning the above, is to share with you something that a wise friend of mine (& fellow-gearhead) once observed: Almost any person who is smart/competent enough to work on cars for a living, is in fact smart enough to be doing something else for a living and get paid more for it.

I think this may help explain why so much of the mechanic-population is bad. Sure there's other factors, but until we have to pay mechanics what other "Professionals" are paid, that's the level of average competence (or lack thereof) the public is going to be stuck with. Sad, but true.

Good luck with your car!
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#5
Old 08-17-2002, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
He said with a fully charged battery, bad alternator or not, it will run for a couple days (without lights or a/c, but it'll run).
I'm not too sure of that, unless you are only making really short trips
#6
Old 08-18-2002, 12:26 AM
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Depends on the car. If you just start it, and can leave it running as you do your driving around (IE, there's somebody in the car while you run in for stuff) and you don't use excessive power accessories (lights, radio, windows, wipers, etc) then yes, a solid battery can get you a couple of days' use.

But, as I said, it depends on the car. The Cavalier, being front-wheel and transverse, probably has an electric fan for the radiator, and this would be your largest draw. Cut those "days" down to "a few hours, tops", again depending.

I once drove a '69 Charger from north of Dallas to Galveston with what turned out to be a wholly nonfunctional alternator. The car had no radio or AC, so while we were toolin' along, the only thing drawing any power was the ignition system.

Unfortunately it started getting dark about an hour away from Galveston, and once I flicked on the lights (not knowing, at the time, the alternator was dead) the thing started running worse and worse from the weakening spark, after only about fifteen minutes. Hit the next exit ramp, killed the lights and limped with the thing barely running, guided by only a three-cell MagLite, about two more miles to a small town.

I can laugh about it now.

Oh, and yeah, you were getting rather horrifically shafted even at $590. Especially for a Chevy part.
#7
Old 08-18-2002, 09:29 AM
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Talking further with the ex I learned what a couple of you fine people mentioned: I don't have a couple days. I'm not going to touch the car until it's time to go to work Monday morning. I was going to drive into the office and then over the mechanic when they opened, but it was suggested to me that I skip that step and just take a cab to work and drop the car off before they open or I might end up paying for (yet another) tow.

FTR, work is at best a 10 min surface street drive and the mechanic about a 10 min drive from my office.
#8
Old 08-18-2002, 09:31 AM
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Oh yeah! Hey.. don't you people have any "they tried to rip me off" mechanic stories to share?
#9
Old 08-19-2002, 08:35 AM
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Tried to rip me off stories?


No.
#10
Old 08-19-2002, 08:58 AM
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Ok, spooje, I'll take "they did rip me off" stories too.
#11
Old 08-19-2002, 09:37 AM
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I didn't start describing mechanics as "predatory" until I broke down in Queens one day.

My tranny blew up in my 1981 Pontiac a few years ago. I had just pulled onto the Cross Island Parkway and was only 1,000 feet or so from my apartment (you can see the CIP from my old apartment). Anyway, the car wouldn't go, so I called for a tow from my mobile phone.

Turns out that the only company that can tow cars on the Cross Island is Jamaica Towing. They showed up and quoted me a ridiculous price for taking the car to one of their approved shops. The towing guy was quick to point out that they had an exclusive contract with the city to tow cars on the CIP and several other roads in the NYC area. No other towing companies could tow cars without their approval, so competition was basically nonexistant.

What I'm wondering is how this is legal. What municipality would sign exclusive contracts, knowing that exclusivity rubs out the competition and results in higher charges for the consumer?

The repair bill for the car was manageable, but the towing was ridiculously expensive. That's when I started calling these guys "predatory."
#12
Old 08-19-2002, 10:33 AM
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Let's not forget a few things here:

1) The mechanics have to make money.

2) The labor times come from a book and are standardized.

3) You can't fix it yourself, because if you could you wouldn't be talking to them.

4) Fixing a car under the best of circumstances isn't cheap.

They likely have to order the alternator for you, since keeping a million diferent types of parts is cost prohibitive. They have to pay for the equipment that they use to fix your car. They have to make enough to feed their families as well.

Changing out an alternator and belt tensioner is not as easy as it seems. What did they ask you for? $600? Half of that was labor, I'll bet. If that's a competitive rate where you live you have no real reason to complain that you're being shafted.
#13
Old 08-19-2002, 11:03 AM
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About a year ago, I took my Aerostar in for its routine maintenance and a good once-over. I want this vehicle to last, so I want to catch problems before they get out of hand. I'm also of the school of thought that the best tool for the job is a checkbook - I'd rather spend money than time on my vehicle.

So, they did the routine stuff I asked and did the inspection. I was told I had an oil leak, a transmission leak, and a high-pressure hose that needed to be replaced - all to the tune of $800. I told them I'd get back to them, and I took my van home. Over the next few months, we kept checking fluid levels, and I was attuned to any changes in performance or noises. Fluid levels never dropped, and the van seemed fine.

A year later, back to the same place for some work before taking the van on a long trip. Once again, I asked for a once-over, hoping to avoid problems on the trek. No mention of any leaks. Van did fine.

Either they were trying to rip me off the first time, or the mechanic goofed up the paperwork and put someone else's diagnosis on my ticket. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now and I ask lots of questions when I do have to go in for work. Until maintenance on the van exceeds what a car payment would be, I'll keep it running.
#14
Old 08-19-2002, 11:36 AM
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First, I'll second Wolfman's comment, I wouldn't try that battery-without-an-alternator trick unless you're willing to risk another towing charge. I don't think it'll last that long, based on personal experience.

The other thing that's puzzling is the serpentine belt. If that belt was broken, you ain't goin' NOWHERE. Not even with the battery and alternator fixed. But you said it worked with a new battery, so that means the belt must not be broken, in which case they were giving you the "well, you might as well replace it while we're in there" routine, which is bullshit.

Also, check with your insurance agent about adding towing service to your policy. It's like 4 bucks a year or something. Saved my ass several times.

I once took a car in to have the heads reworked. I normally do all my own work, but that's a complex job, requires tools I don't have, and it was in January and I had to work on it outside. When I picked it up, there was no heat or defrost (in JANUARY). The guy tried to tell me that when the heads blew, it burned out the heater coil. I called bullshit rightaway and told him I'd drive it a while (he didn't know me, hadn't seen my engineering degree, haha). I got home, disconnected the heater hose coming out of the block (30 second work) and found the PLUG he'd placed there to block flow to the heater coil.

Understand, the heater coil is INSIDE the dash. You can't usually see it without taking all the interior dash parts off. If I told you I'd put a new one in your car, you'd have to take my word for it. I'm sure he would have bitched about how hard it is to get too, then charged me a hefty sum.

Busted!
#15
Old 08-19-2002, 11:49 AM
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I read the OP and reaf 'Goodyear' and moaned 'Oh God. Goodyear, Firestone, Sears are bad in my experience. In fact, Sears automotive was investigated on a news stations investigative reports here and they forwarded their results to authorities for action since Sears actually busted things to do repairs.

They are still around though.
#16
Old 08-19-2002, 11:54 AM
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/\/\etalhea|),

Could you not report the mechanic to the police as he is guilty of a crime? If it's more than $100, isn't it a felony?
#17
Old 08-19-2002, 12:13 PM
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Go ahead and take advantage of the dumb blonde!

It used to annoy me, but now this story just makes me laugh.

I drove my standard shift Volvo to the mechanic to get a tune-up. Nothing wrong with the car, just some spark plugs that need replacing.

I ask for my tune-up, and they say "No problem. Come back in a few hours."

The mechanic is located in a shopping center, and before I leave the waiting room to walk over to the grocery store, I see Mr. Mechanic drive my car to the service station.

I come back a little later to check on things, and Mr. Mechanic (the same one that drove my car earlier) tells me that everything is finished. But during the tune-up he says he found a problem, and in complete seriousness (not a slip of the tongue) he tells me I'm badly in need of having my automatic transmission serviced.

"Um, no. Please don't service my transmission. And could I talk to your manager?"

You DROVE the car, doofus! How can you ask me about an automatic transmission?!
#18
Old 08-19-2002, 12:35 PM
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My husband is a mechanic. It's nice having one of those in the family. (Now, if we can add a doctor and a lawyer we'd be set.)

I think women should go with nice, informed men when they get their cars worked on. I remember when I was in college I took my Civic to get an oil change...lo and behold, I needed new brakes immediately or I was going to crash. What did I know?

Of course, there's the story of the man who takes the car to the mechanic because there's a problem. The mechanic pops the hood, turns a screw, slams the hood down, and says, "That will be $100."

"$100! For turning one screw???" the man screams.

"No," says the mechanic. "For knowing which one to turn."
#19
Old 08-19-2002, 12:49 PM
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I hope this isn't too much of a hijack, but there's a place on Northern that will charge you only for the cost of the alternator or starter (that's all they do there).

Not that this helps now, but for future reference.
::runs to go find the name of this place::
#20
Old 08-19-2002, 01:22 PM
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Thespos,
Remember NY doesn't allow commercial traffic on the parkways. They then delegate sections of the parkway system to graft-payers - uh, bidders, for towing contracts, so you don't have fleets of trucks prowling on it. They should have regulated rates, though, as state monopolies.
#21
Old 08-19-2002, 01:55 PM
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Thespos,
Remember NY doesn't allow commercial traffic on the parkways. They then delegate sections of the parkway system to graft-payers - uh, bidders, for towing contracts, so you don't have fleets of trucks prowling on it. They should have regulated rates, though, as state monopolies.
#22
Old 08-19-2002, 02:07 PM
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someone adjust the hamster feed again, please..... dumb double posts
#23
Old 08-19-2002, 02:54 PM
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Jeep "repair" 500 miles from home

Well, I know jack about cars, so I don;t know if this was a rip-off story or not (seems to be to me though).

My girlfriend has a '95 Cherokee. We noticed that the driver's door was getting kinda wonky, not closing quite right, like it was off it's track or something. I figured, well, she had just got it checked out for the road trip we were about to go on, so there's nothing to worry about.

So, we're in San Diego (we came from Santa Cruz, 75 miles south of SF). The door won't close. She freaks out, we finally get around to finding a place that'll take the car then and get it done overnight. It seems that the door-to-body hinge has, well, fallen off. Apparently, this is somewhat common in 95 Cherokees.

So we bring the car in, they quote $290. We drive it over to the lot and leave in our friend's car. (The reason it wouldn't close, the tow truck driver shows us, is actually that the lock was in the wrong position, at the outer edge of the door, but the hinge was in real bad shape anyway.)

We pick it up the next day, hinge is fine, nice solid lock on the door, all is peachy, we pay the $290 and be on our way. First thing we notice is that the turn signals are on hyperblink. Instead of "Blink... blink... blink..." like any normal car, they're on speed, "Blinkblinkblink..."

We say, well, fine, whatever, the damn door closes, maybe they had to tweak some wiring in the door to get the hinge working (shitty logic, I know, but we were releived).

We leave San Diego two days later and go to Riverside (80 miles east of LA) overnight. We leave Riverside at about 2 in the afternoon. We go up I-5 and west on CA-58 to US-101. We stop at a Carl's Jr for some grub in Atascadero, and get back on the road. This was at dusk.

Some of you may see where this is going.

Being almost dark, she flips on the headlights. Radio lights up, console lights up, headlights don't light up. This is bad; we still have a ways to go, through some dark foresty roads, no less.

We pull over at a gas station, I change the fuse, no dice. I look through the manual, no dice. I ask the guy behind the counter if he could take a look. We pop the hood, and lo and behold, there's these two wires loose near the driver's side headlight, under the hood. Thick plugs on each, one male, one female. They resemble the plugs on fresnels. After three people try to get the damn things plugged together, I say fuck it, and just smash my hand in there and get the fuckers together.

Dice.

Thanks are given, miles are crossed, we make it back to Santa Cruz. (With regular blinkers, thankyouverymuch.)

Now...

Why in the purple fuck were these fucking hicks messing around under my girlfriend's hood (no comment from the peanut gallery, pleae) when they were paid to fix a door hinge- something my ignorant ass could've done in an hour myself?! Five god damned feet from the area where they were working, there's a deliberately unplugged wire. One that was fucking hard to get to, as three guys took ten minutes to finally reach in and put em back together. And it's for the fucking headlights! The fucking headlights!!! Those are fucking important!!! We pay you three hundred dollars and you fuck up out headlights? You know those little bubbles they sell with toys inside em for a quarter at the supermarket? Well, I'm gonna fill one of them with oven cleaner, shove it up your asses, and then kick hard.

The car's worked fine ever since. And I'm very careful with the passenger side door.

As for the actual door repair, it seems a simple sottering job would've been fine. I dunno if that's $290 worth of parts and labor, maybe it is, maybe it isn't, I dunno.
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#24
Old 08-19-2002, 03:23 PM
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I agree with whomever said honest mechanics are worth their weight in gold. I've been lucky enough to know a few. One works just a mile down the road from my parents' house. One time my cooling fan wasn't working, and I took it to him to get looked at. He popped the hood, jiggled a wire, and it started right up. Didn't charge me anything.
(I should add, I wasn't actually there when he did this, and I knew a lot less about cars then. It would've been soooo easy for him to cheat me.)

I like my Volvo because since it's a 1983 model, it's not terribly sophisticated. With a Chilton's manual I can fix practically anything on it myself, and I can ALWAYS spot a scammer. They're the ones who try to tell me it's a "complicated job."
#25
Old 08-19-2002, 03:57 PM
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I second that suggestion, Ivylass. Now, whenever I do anything car-related (car shopping, car repairs) I take my father or brother with me, and have THEM talk to the mechanic. If I go alone, I'm scared that something along the lines of what happened to me before will play itself out again.

Ooo, and Lizard: I love Volvos too. Up until fairly recently, they were fairly uncomplicated and easy to fix. Now, I'm scared to look under the hood of a new one. I heard that Volvo was bought by an American company - but not sure about that. They sure do look differently now though.

I think you'll find lots of bad mechanic stories (and humor) if you go to cartalk.com.
#26
Old 08-19-2002, 04:26 PM
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Re: Go ahead and take advantage of the dumb blonde!

Quote:
Originally posted by SUPERKARLENE
You DROVE the car, doofus! How can you ask me about an automatic transmission?!
heh. Reminds me of the time I went to Jiffy Lube for an oil change. While I was waiting, the guy came in and told me that I was due for an automatic transmission fluid replacement. I responded, "If you can find an automatic transmission in my truck, go right ahead."

I think there's a tendency to assume that a vehicle is an automatic; still, after driving your vehicle himself, that's really inexcusable.
#27
Old 08-19-2002, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
2) The labor times come from a book and are standardized.
I can guarantee these were not "by the book standardized" labour charges. I took the car to my mechanic this morning. This man I trust and has never tried to rip me off.

He told me to buy my own alternator because it will be cheaper than if he has to supply it. I did, for $75 (+ refundable core charge). He also told me my belt was not in need of replacing at this time. He changed out the part for me right then in 20 mins start to finish (including testing the voltage after). He then charged me the minimum labour charge ($30) since it took less than 30 minutes.

So you tell me how $162 (at $82/hr) for labour is "by the book" labour pricing. I would agree it would take that long if the damn thing had been buried and it would actually take almost two hours to replace, but obviously it takes less than 30mins. For this place to try to charge me almost 2 hours of labour they WERE trying to rip me off.


Quote:
They likely have to order the alternator for you, since keeping a million diferent types of parts is cost prohibitive. They have to pay for the equipment that they use to fix your car. They have to make enough to feed their families as well.
I don't know about ordering the alternator because they car would have been ready the same day, but the cost of the equipment plus feeding their families I thought was were the $$$ per hour labour charge came in. Am I wrong in that? If $82/hr (which is not that competitive around here) labour is not enough for the above, then they need to increase their per hour charge, not pad the amount of time it actually will take to do something.

Quote:
Changing out an alternator and belt tensioner is not as easy as it seems. What did they ask you for? $600? Half of that was labor, I'll bet. If that's a competitive rate where you live you have no real reason to complain that you're being shafted.
If changing out an alternator is not as easy it seems, why did it only take my guy 20 minutes to do? I broke down the charges for the alternator earlier in this entry. This is no where NEAR a comptetitve rate where I live, this was outright shafting.
#28
Old 08-19-2002, 05:31 PM
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As you can see from the many typos above, I'm still rather angry.

I'm sorry, Airman, the bitchiness/anger in my above post is not directed at you, but at that repair center. You just happened to be the unfortunate one that thought there might be justification in their pricing so you get to bear the brunt of it.
#29
Old 08-19-2002, 09:09 PM
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This is not particularly egregious, but I'll chime in anyway. 1997 Mazda B2300 pickup.

Recently bought new tires for the truck, at a local Firestone* dealer. They "couldn't help but notice" that my front brake pads were pretty worn and that they recommended replacement. Further, they told me that the rotors were below spec and couldn't be machined, so I'd have to buy new ones ($89 each).

Now, I'd been keeping pretty careful about checking my brakes, and I knew exactly how thick the pads were. And, yes, they were thin enough that I couldn't fault the recommendation that they should be changed.

The rotors, however, were another story. These were the original pads - the rotors had never been resurfaced before. I should have asked them what thickness they measured, but didn't. On this vehicle, the rotors are integral with the hub, so I don't think they were bullshitting me on the price there (Pep Boys quoted me $75 each). I turned them down since I'd been planning on tackling this job myself soon anyways.

Well, the following weekend I did the brakes myself, and lo and behold those things were nowhere near the stamped discard thickness. Took 'em to get machined for $6 each, and mic'd em myself on their return - still a good bit above it.

While in the waiting room at Firestone, I overheard a service dude telling somebody over the phone that his rotors were too thin to machine, as well. I'm wondering if that's standard procedure - hell, it's probably easier to slap new ones on than to machine the old ones. It also seems to be SOP to recommend new wipers at $25 on every car that comes in the door.

"Just do the tires & alignment, and I'll handle everything else on my own, thanks." I could have spent a hell of a lot in there....

* - Yes, Firestone. The original tires were Firestones (not Wilderness AT's and I was happy as hell with them. Wanted the same things again, and it seems that nobody else out here even stocks Firestones anymore.
#30
Old 08-20-2002, 12:28 AM
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No problem. I understand.

Anyway, all jobs have a standardized amount of time that is charged. It's all in a book, I forget what it's called, though.

Woe to the mechanic that can't "beat the book". That's where they make all their money, by the way. They charge you x number of hours to do a job, which they can do by law, and when they finish early they work on someone else's car and charge them. Essentially, they double bill for the same period of time. It's all nice and legal, too.

Nice scam, eh?

That's what I was referring to, and any mechanic that fixes cars for a living does it. So, in a sense, they're ALL dishonest.

If it says "two hours" in the book for the alternator, that's what you pay for, even if it takes the guy 15 minutes. That's the price of doing business with a mechanic.
#31
Old 08-20-2002, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Airman Doors, USAF
If it says "two hours" in the book for the alternator, that's what you pay for, even if it takes the guy 15 minutes. That's the price of doing business with a mechanic.
Well, that would be the price of doing business with some mechanics. My mechanic uses the book to give an estimate but he only charges for actual work done. Hell, he didn't even look up the labour for the work I did yesterday, he just said it would take him about 20 minutes and then after it was done told the biller "minimum labour charge" (which is the equiv. of 30mins work).

I would imagine this book breaks things down by make, model and year of car, no? So changing an alternator in an 88 Chevy Cavelier could be a different time frame in the book than in ... I don't know, a Toyota Camry?
#32
Old 08-20-2002, 07:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by BlinkingDuck
/\/\etalhea|),

Could you not report the mechanic to the police as he is guilty of a crime? If it's more than $100, isn't it a felony?
He could, but they wouldn't pay much attention. Proving the guy was bilking him would be very, very difficult.
#33
Old 08-20-2002, 08:54 AM
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Heh. The old 'machining' the rotors trick. Gotta be a good moneymaker for lots of repair shops. Most people aren't going to second guess a mechanic, and brakes, well, they are important! The fact is, turning rotors isn't strictly speaking even necessary nor desirable.

The trick is to understand what exactly is broken on your car or truck. Whether male or female, if you show up and say "My car won't start" then they have just hit the figurative lottery. They can throw parts at it all day and charge you the max rate for labor.

On the other hand, if you are able to track down the specific problem definitively or nearly so, you can limit the damage they do. Just be thankful there isn't a federally subsidized Carecare program similar to our health care system. Can you say $1000 oil changes boys and girls? heh.
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#34
Old 08-20-2002, 11:02 AM
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Airman Doors, USAF, said
Quote:
Anyway, all jobs have a standardized amount of time that is charged. [snip] Woe to the mechanic that can't "beat the book". That's where they make all their money, by the way. They charge you x number of hours to do a job, which they can do by law, and when they finish early they work on someone else's car and charge them. Essentially, they double bill for the same period of time. It's all nice and legal, too. Nice scam, eh?
As a former professional mechanic, I want to comment on this. The book referred to is a “flat-rate” manual and there are several publishers of these books. They all agree pretty closely on the time required to do a given job and that time assumes an average mechanic, using average tools in an average shop. And, you may be assured, if statistics show that the time is excessive, it will be reduced in subsequent issues. Anyway, the labor charge quoted to the customer is the time given by the manual, multiplied by the shop’s hourly rate. The customer may either accept the price, or not. If the customer accepts the price, the job is assigned to a mechanic and the repair is accomplished. Airman Doors seems to feel that if the job is accomplished in less than the quoted time, the price should be reduced accordingly. I would like to ask if he would be willing to pay twice the quoted price if the job takes twice the quoted time, no matter for what reason. I am also curious as to why he thinks the mechanic should be penalized for being efficient at his job. If a mechanic is not efficient, he won’t last long in the trade, I can promise that. Neither will a plumber, a lawn mower, a tree-trimmer or a surgeon. Assuming that a repair job is done well and satisfies the expectation of the customer, I don’t see how doing it efficiently constitutes a scam. I am unaware of any business that penalizes employees for being efficient. In a lot of cases, doing the job efficiently requires the purchase of specialized tools and believe me, the shop doesn’t buy them---the mechanic does. If it weren’t to his advantage, he wouldn’t buy them. I might also add that if any business doesn’t operate efficiently, that business won’t survive. And, the charge of "double-billing" is one that can be levied against a lot of professionals.
Also, I am unaware of any specific law that permits or requires automobile repair shops to charge based on flat-rate manuals. As far as I know, shops can charge on whatever basis customers are willing to sustain. The flat-rate system seems to be the one most favored---not because it is a scam, but because it is reasonable. None of this means that crooks don’t exist in the automobile repair business, but being in that business doesn’t automatically make one a crook.
#35
Old 08-24-2002, 07:23 AM
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Quote:
Thespos,
Remember NY doesn't allow commercial traffic on the parkways. They then delegate sections of the parkway system to graft-payers - uh, bidders, for towing contracts, so you don't have fleets of trucks prowling on it. They should have regulated rates, though, as state monopolies.
It's not just to keep trucks from prowling on the parkways, as the other highways also have exclusive towing companies. It's also to prevent the scene often seen on the street, where 4 tow trucks show up at the scene of a 2 car accident where neither car needs a tow.The rates might be regulated, (the prices seem to be in the same area, anyway) but regulation doesn't mean they can't be ridiculous especially for a very short tow.
#36
Old 08-24-2002, 11:33 PM
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LouisB has the right of it: if the book says two hours to do an alternator, they charge you two hours (your mechanic. Mauvais seems to own his own business in that he can set his own rates, where in a corporate-owned shop the mechanic has nothing to do with the rates). If your alternator takes half-an-hour to replace, you pay two hours. If your alternator takes four hours to replace, you pay two hours. In this case, the book rate worked against you; I can assure you that in some other cases, the book would work for you.

Now, about this: take a man with you. HA! You're just reinforcing the stereotype that women don't know nuthin' 'bout no auto-mo-biles. I think everyone who buys a car show know the basics of how it operates, whether they learn from a family member or a friend or they take a class.

They only time I was almost ripped off was hilarious. I took my car to a nearby shop for a transmission service. Shortly, the service advisor came into the waiting room and told me that I had a bad leak. Before he could start quoting prices to me, I made a phone call--to my sister. My sister, the auto mechanic. My sister, the former AF jet engine mechanic. She was there in fifteen minutes, told the mechanic "hoist 'er up," and wiped the spot of transmission oil off with a rag. No leak.

I had the transmission serviced elsewhere.
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#37
Old 08-25-2002, 12:59 AM
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While of course there are exceptions to the rule, mechanics and their environs is largely if not completely a male dominated world -- though I'd argue the *worst* mechanics are exclusively male as well.

Still, a modicum of understanding beyond "I push the floor thingy and it makes it go" travels a long way towards saving $$ when it comes to auto repair. Following the instructions in the owners manual religiously would do more to save thousands of dollars for the average consumer over the years than anything else I can think of.

Modern cars esp. are very sophisticated w/ complex, interdependent computer controlled feedback systems which 'assume' certain parameters -- temperature, 02 sensors, etc. If the owners manual says "Premium Unleaded Only" guess what -- you can't use Costco 82. El-Cheapo oil filters are never a bargain. Spark plugs do not last forever. Oil is not a permanent fixture in the engine. Air filters are a requirement, not a suggestion, etc. What's idiotic, is people are willing to go in debt for 10's of thousands to get a new car, but balk at spending any money on even bare minimum, factory recommend service interval maintenance.

Most importantly, fix small faults right away -- little problems can rapidly become BIG, expensive problems if they are not caught in time. RTFM, and give the whole car a once over weekly at least, or at every fill up.

One often overlooked aspect is the cleanliness of the engine bay and related environs, not to mention the interior and all that. I've never worked as a professional auto mechanic, but I'll bet my last 7/16ths deepwell that they charge more for a dirty, nasty, car versus one that has been carefully, if not necessarily perfectly, maintained over the years.

Who wants to work on a dirty, rusting poorly performing long neglected piece of crap? Similarly, they are less inclined to gouge folks who clearly know what the hell they are doing, and someone who takes pride in their ride qualifies.

To you it may just be transportation from A to B; -- but mechanics go into that line of work in the first place because they love cars. The way many people abuse their cars and trucks is truly amazing, wholly apart from any safety aspects they are subjecting us all to, it's disgusting to see a fine piece of expensive engineering go all to hell.
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#38
Old 08-25-2002, 01:32 AM
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LouisB, you're right. I apologize. That was inappropriate of me.
#39
Old 08-25-2002, 04:58 AM
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Well lets see. I was charged $10.00 for a Radiator Drain Plug to replace one that self destructed. paid my friend 50.00 for labor to take out my radiator, put the lug on and put it back in.
#40
Old 08-25-2002, 08:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Airman Doors, USAF
LouisB, you're right. I apologize. That was inappropriate of me.
Thank you, on behalf of honest mechanics, for your most gracious apology. None was due me, since I no longer follow the trade. I was only trying to point out the inherent fairness of the flat-rate method of determining labor charges.
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#41
Old 03-10-2014, 11:33 AM
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Short version: I took my car to Colletti Motorsports in Moraine, OH about 3.5 years ago and it is still not done!!! I had to have another mechanic fix Colletti Motorsports's mistakes. And Colletti Motorsports refuses to pay for it or even acknowledge me. I spent $8000.00 on the motor alone not including non-motor items.

Long version: http://deathtocms.blogspot.co.uk
#42
Old 03-10-2014, 11:38 AM
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You do realize you've resurrected a 12 year old thread to add nothing useful.

In other words: How much do zombie mechanics charge?
#43
Old 03-10-2014, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimballkid View Post
You do realize you've resurrected a 12 year old thread to add nothing useful.

In other words: How much do zombie mechanics charge?
What's even better (?) is that I got an email notification that someone replied to a thread I subscribed to and I spent about 5 minutes thinking, "When the fuck did I subscribe to this thread?! Is this some really smart spam/virus email?" Only to find out that I not only did subscribe to the thread, I wrote the fucking thing.
#44
Old 03-10-2014, 12:25 PM
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Mauvaise! Where the fuck have you been? *waves*
#45
Old 03-10-2014, 12:34 PM
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And if you still need a mechanic in the Tempe area, PM me and I'll share mine.
#46
Old 03-10-2014, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Mauvaise! Where the fuck have you been? *waves*
*waves back* I've been here, posting randomly a couple times a month (or less).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lare View Post
And if you still need a mechanic in the Tempe area, PM me and I'll share mine.
Thank you. It was just a fluke that I was in Tempe when all this happened. I didn't live there then and I don't know. I did find another good mechanic in North-Central Phoenix-ish while driving the car after the Chevy finally died. But right now my current car still has the factory warranty working for it.
#47
Old 03-10-2014, 12:48 PM
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LOL How's the old Cavalier running?
#48
Old 03-10-2014, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Sparky812 View Post
LOL How's the old Cavalier running?
It's beyond dead. That car was something - I didn't mention in the original post that after years of being driven in Detroit winters, it was half rust and had several alarming holes in it from salt damage. Including one fist-sized hole in the muffler - everyone knew when I around! I was fortunate to get $300 on it in a trade-in when I bought my next car. I was just happy they didn't charge *me* the $300 to dispose of it!
#49
Old 03-10-2014, 02:38 PM
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Too bad... I was hoping you'd revived it as a zombie car!
#50
Old 03-10-2014, 03:39 PM
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Brahbbbbbbbrahbbbbbbbraiiiiinssssss
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