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Is it worth having a vehicle repaired at a dealer repair shop?


jwblue
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Do they only use OEM parts?

 

If they do use after market parts, what is the point of paying a high price to have a car repaired at a dealership? I believe I remember a dealership repair shop asking if I wanted after market brake pads for a repair.

 

Can independent repair shops acquire OEM parts? If so, why even bother going to a dealer to have a vehicle repaired? Independent repair shops always charge less.

 

This would be for routine repairs like a radiator or water pump.

 

What about for more complicated repairs?

 

Is the added cost really worth it? Do dealership repair shops charge more for OEM parts than what an independent shop would?

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we don't call them stealerships for nothing, but obviously, the dealer is brand specific so will always (we hope) be more knowledgeable about your vehicle. however, the only OEM parts i have EVER used on my trucks is the studs for the exhaust manifolds.

If you can do it yourself, i highly suggest it, any shop will charge you tons of labor as anything you do on a pathy takes time lol.... and lots of shops don't really like to mess with them, and if they do, they charge you for their trouble.

do you have a knowledgeable friend who can help you? that is your best bet.

if a garage gets you the parts they will charge more, a stealership will not allow you to supply your own parts.

you can change a radiator in a pathy in 10 minutes (no joke, i've done it)...

Edited by Slick
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The only time I would take my vehicle to a dealership is for things that are diagnostic related in NEWER vehicles. The industry is moving in a direction that is making it substantially harder for independent repair facilities to diagnose the problem with scanning equipment. By law, the manufacturer only has to release information dealing with certain areas and all else is covered under a privacy law that allows them to keep there technological secrets. so to speak. As the industry progresses you will see more and more private repair shops slowly dwindling away. Even now there are lots of issues that they will have to send your vehicle off to the manufacturer dealership just to gain access to the full diagnosis and repair process. Newer vehicles are so Computer reliant for EVERYTHING that without access to the manufacturer diagnostic computers you're going to have a harder time repairing problems properly in the future.

 

One small example of this. When I was living in Northern Alberta, our small town of 3400 had a Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealer, and a GMC dealer. Nothing else. The closest Ford Dealership was an hour away. The Town also had a satellite campus for NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute for Technology) and was very well equipped with various diagnostic equipment that was leading edge and current. While I attended there, One of the students had a 2008 Ford F150 and sometimes when we finished all there was to do, we were allowed to work on our own vehicles to kill the time. He decided to do a brake job and picked himself up some new pads and we machined his rotors. After putting it all back together, and bleeding the brakes his vehicle was pulsating so badly and there was hardly any braking action whatsoever. The reasoning was that the vehicles ABS sensors needed to be cleared and readjusted and no other diagnostic equipment but Ford's would allow you access to that area since they had some patent on the special technology that their vehicles utilized. So he ended up having to drive an hour with virtually no brakes to have them hook up their computer, clear everything, and then following the computer's commands, you bleed them accordingly. The computer does its thing to the ECU while you're bleeding and voila..... you have brakes again. He shoveled out a fee and off he went.

 

At any rate. You can see what I mean. The bulk of the money that goes into automotive is not in Vehicle purchase. They make very little on vehicle sales. Its on Repair work and there is no better way to secure your company's future then to make sure that the only way they can fix their vehicle, is to bring it back to a Dealership for repairs.

 

As for us older WD21's. Do EVERYTHING you can by yourself until you cant anymore. That's the beauty of owning older vehicles now. ya you have more repairs cause they are older, but you can do almost everything yourself.

Edited by Dowser
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I've taken mine to the dealer a few times but only for things that I couldn't do myself (seat belts, alignment), or I didn't trust other mechanics to do (alignment). The dealer near me prides themselves on their competitive prices for routine things. An oil change is only 29.99 and alignment is 79.99! Most places charge 100 for an alignment, even more on a wd21 cause it takes longer.

 

But for everything else I DIY.

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Man! Have we been down this road before!!!

 

Im going to try and not make this a pissing match, but yet throw out some real facts.

 

Ok, with any repair facility, you should get you know the technician/mechanic that is or will be working on your vehicle. I say its a good thing to build a relationship so you can trust them with your vehicle. Independent repair shops hourly rates are quicly catching dealers because vehicle are much more technical than they used to be. Does this make it harder to work on said vehicles. Yes and no. Onboard diagnostics have come a long way. There are specific codes that all makers use to help you fix a vehicle. There are also some codes that are dealer specific that may require special tools to repair. These special tools are what cost so much. But, the tools are useless if they are in hands of someone who does not know how to use them. Codes do not always mean failed part!!!

 

Most dealers, and all the ones I have worked for, have always backed thier work with a 1yr/12,000 mile warranty on parts and labor. The nice thing is that warranty follows you if you have moved or are away from your home dealer. I do not know(maybe someone else does)of any independent repair shop that can offer that. Now, as far as parts go, look down at the bottom of your work order. Dealers will normally state that factory parts are always used unless they are unavailable or they are instructed otherwise. If you want aftermaket parts, you usually have to sign or initial stating so. It is hard for dealers to guarntee someone elses parts, as they may not be made to exacting standards.

 

Independant repair shops can get factory parts. As with any part, there is a markup. Aftermaket parts that are cheaper, usually have a larger profit margin, compared to factory parts. In some cases, a factory part may be the only way to go.

 

Labor rates are always going to differ, dealer or aftermaket. Why they difference? Well that may be due to several reasons. Dealers are paid a certian amount per hour to perform warranty work. They are also only paid so much by service contracts and extended warranties. But, they are also paying to the best equipment and keep thier technicians trained and up to date with the newest technology. Some independents do some of this also, but its difficult and expensive. Most dealer trained techs tend to stay with the vehicle line they are most trained in, and once in a while they change. Some independent mechanics may jump around from shop to shop and you may not be sure what they know, and how they will treat your vehicle.

 

Ok, now from a personal view. I work as a dealer technician, and have for over 16 years. I am a ASE Master tech, as well as a Infiniti Master tech. I have only worked at 3 dealers my entire time in this field. I have seen and repaired a lot of other peoples attepted repairs that will just shock you. I take a lot of pride in what I do, knowing that people are paying a premium to come to me, or to my dealer. Does everyone I work with feel that way? No, not all. But a majority do. I believe I am representing 3 idenities at all times. Myself, Nissan/Infiniti and the dealer I work for. Make anyone of them look bad, and you make them all look bad. Customers will go somewhere else. I do what I can to explain my repairs and why they need them, and hope to build a relationship and trust. I know what to expect from our vehicles because I have seen what the difference is between a car that has been maintained, and one that has not.

 

Ok, I will get off my soapbox now. Beleive me, dealers are not your enemy. You have the right to demand more from them. Really you should demand more from any repair facility. Money has to be made on some level. People deserve the best service as possible. In the end, we are all human, and we make mistakes. Some admit them and make the right. Some dont admit them and try to cover it up.

 

Last but not least, I will say this...

"I do not go to a Proctologist to have my teeth checked out!"

 

 

P.S. If you havent noticed, I also highly support people doing it themselves. I try and make sure they know how to do it correctly so the repair lasts and they dont get hurt.

Edited by 5523Pathfinder
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Great information in this thread.

 

 

Is it difficult for a layman to learn how to do repairs?

 

What is the best way to acquire this knowledge?

 

Is taking a car repair course helpful?

 

Can a layman with common sense look at a repair manual and figure out how to replace a part?

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Great information in this thread.

 

 

Is it difficult for a layman to learn how to do repairs?

 

What is the best way to acquire this knowledge?

 

Is taking a car repair course helpful?

 

Can a layman with common sense look at a repair manual and figure out how to replace a part?

Its all a question of how much you want to learn. If you are going to dive deep, you need to know theroy. Knowing how a system works will help you diagnois and repair things. In general, a good repair manual will usually walk you through the steps. I went to school to learn and have continued from there. You can read the writeups here in the garage section and they will help. Some have pics and video, some will "talk" you through a repair or fix.

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I rarely take my truck into a mechanic for service, as I do 99% of stuff myself. That said, if I did have to take it to a mechanic it would be a Nissan dealership with which I have a good rapport, and we all share a contact (Morpheus). I'd rather have the dealership look at my truck than some mechanic who specializes in nothing.

 

That said, my father has had excellent luck with a couple of independent shops in the past, and wouldn't hesitate to use them again. I think, as with anything, there's good and bad. Some dealerships earn the reputation of being "stealerships" while other will provide you with great service at fair prices. Bottom line: Find a mechanic you trust, dealership or otherwise, and don't let go.

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I would also like to clarify that since I forgot to in my initial post, that I would much rather go to a dealership if I had to bring my vehicle into a shop. For all of the above reasons stated by Simon, and 5523Pathfinder.

 

If you're going to take it into the dealership, then ask them that you would like them to have a certified licensed tech work on it and not an apprentice and that you will be willing to book it for a convenient time if necessary. Most licensed techs are fully booked since that is the dealers bread and butter and since they are getting paid the most, they keep them stocked. Find out which tech is working on it, and as said, see if you can perhaps talk with him/her briefly. Inform them that you are looking for a Technician to service your vehicle for the remainder of its life and you'll see right off from their body language or attitude whether or not they are interested in being that tech. Hell you may not even want them to be the one but its good to get a feel for what kind of tech they are. Some techs are all about Gravy work and anything they can do to cut a corner to make up time they'll do and that type of mechanic can be found at Any repair shop with a flat rate system. What you want is a Mechanic like 5523! hahaha One that takes pride in the dealership, his work, and is willing to communicate with the client to explain things when necessary. Not to say that some apprentices aren't excellent mechanics, but some aren't and with a license you do get some degree of a guarantee.

 

Once you find one, when its time to book it in, make sure you specify that you would like the specific tech to work on it otherwise the front desk will book whoever is not busy at the earliest available time slot.

Edited by Dowser
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Man! Have we been down this road before!!!

 

Im going to try and not make this a pissing match, but yet throw out some real facts.

 

Ok, with any repair facility, you should get you know the technician/mechanic that is or will be working on your vehicle. I say its a good thing to build a relationship so you can trust them with your vehicle. Independent repair shops hourly rates are quicly catching dealers because vehicle are much more technical than they used to be. Does this make it harder to work on said vehicles. Yes and no. Onboard diagnostics have come a long way. There are specific codes that all makers use to help you fix a vehicle. There are also some codes that are dealer specific that may require special tools to repair. These special tools are what cost so much. But, the tools are useless if they are in hands of someone who does not know how to use them. Codes do not always mean failed part!!!

 

Most dealers, and all the ones I have worked for, have always backed thier work with a 1yr/12,000 mile warranty on parts and labor. The nice thing is that warranty follows you if you have moved or are away from your home dealer. I do not know(maybe someone else does)of any independent repair shop that can offer that. Now, as far as parts go, look down at the bottom of your work order. Dealers will normally state that factory parts are always used unless they are unavailable or they are instructed otherwise. If you want aftermaket parts, you usually have to sign or initial stating so. It is hard for dealers to guarntee someone elses parts, as they may not be made to exacting standards.

 

Independant repair shops can get factory parts. As with any part, there is a markup. Aftermaket parts that are cheaper, usually have a larger profit margin, compared to factory parts. In some cases, a factory part may be the only way to go.

 

Labor rates are always going to differ, dealer or aftermaket. Why they difference? Well that may be due to several reasons. Dealers are paid a certian amount per hour to perform warranty work. They are also only paid so much by service contracts and extended warranties. But, they are also paying to the best equipment and keep thier technicians trained and up to date with the newest technology. Some independents do some of this also, but its difficult and expensive. Most dealer trained techs tend to stay with the vehicle line they are most trained in, and once in a while they change. Some independent mechanics may jump around from shop to shop and you may not be sure what they know, and how they will treat your vehicle.

 

Ok, now from a personal view. I work as a dealer technician, and have for over 16 years. I am a ASE Master tech, as well as a Infiniti Master tech. I have only worked at 3 dealers my entire time in this field. I have seen and repaired a lot of other peoples attepted repairs that will just shock you. I take a lot of pride in what I do, knowing that people are paying a premium to come to me, or to my dealer. Does everyone I work with feel that way? No, not all. But a majority do. I believe I am representing 3 idenities at all times. Myself, Nissan/Infiniti and the dealer I work for. Make anyone of them look bad, and you make them all look bad. Customers will go somewhere else. I do what I can to explain my repairs and why they need them, and hope to build a relationship and trust. I know what to expect from our vehicles because I have seen what the difference is between a car that has been maintained, and one that has not.

 

Ok, I will get off my soapbox now. Beleive me, dealers are not your enemy. You have the right to demand more from them. Really you should demand more from any repair facility. Money has to be made on some level. People deserve the best service as possible. In the end, we are all human, and we make mistakes. Some admit them and make the right. Some dont admit them and try to cover it up.

 

Last but not least, I will say this...

"I do not go to a Proctologist to have my teeth checked out!"

 

 

P.S. If you havent noticed, I also highly support people doing it themselves. I try and make sure they know how to do it correctly so the repair lasts and they dont get hurt.

 

As a retired Tech with about 35 years experience, 17 with Datsun/Nissan I'll have to agree with 5523Pathfinder whole heartedly.

And this to a earlier post about the shop being the money maker in the Dealership Bull@!*%, if the Dealer didn't have to have the shop there wouldn't be a shop it's mandatory for the dealershipto have a repair facility.

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Perhaps the import market makes more per sale on a vehicle then Domestics but I know at least with Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep there wasn't a huge markup on vehicle sales. They'd make about 3-6 grand on a sale depending on make an model. Our particular dealership was very busy with vehicle sales, but at the end of the month I remember the owner mentioned the service department made higher profits monthly. Perhaps he was referring to the profit margin and not gross profit. All I know is most of the service bills were pretty freaking brutal. Maybe that was due to the fact that a lot of the vehicles being serviced were work trucks for Oil Field related industry.

 

Perhaps I made a generalization but in my limited experience that was what occurred.

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I take my malibu into the dealership for in depth work, i.e. hub bearings when I either cannot, will not, or am unable at the time to do the work myself. Mostly because up until recently I had a steady income that allowed the extra expense, and I like the work they do! I do like taking it into tuffy, because they have done good work and the weekend my muffler rusted off, I had to be back @ school 200 miles away in 24 hours...

The only other time was again when I was at college, my PS pump out line clamp rusted off, spewing all my ps fluid across the road. I saw the issue, took it into the cheapest shop I could. Their shop rates were $64 an hour, with a student discount it was $50/hour, and they charged me for 45 minutes and a hose clamp, plus gave me a ride back to campus for the night while they waited for a box of PS fluid to come in the next day, picked me up at campus and had a really comfy couch!! Although I was very capable of doing this repair for $5, I really have no beef with supporting a local shop trying to make a living, especially when they had 3 bays, 2 of which were blocked with vehicles who's owners couldn't pay (one's hub bearing exploded on the rack, and the owner didn't understand why they couldn't just drive it home, the other a dropped tranny)

 

The three times I've taken my pathy to the shop in the past 5 years have been the following

-Private dealership (VERY BAD IDEA) charged me $75 to put on an idler arm brace, then the guy had the nerve to test drive and fully inspect my meticulously maintained malibu, later calling and offering $400.....

-Took it into tuffy for a muffler gasket replacement on warranty, charged $45 labor but it saved me time.

-Sears automotive had it on the alignment rack, told me I needed all new TRE..charged me $50 each end plus alignment, but cut me a deal for the labor involved summing up to $400 odd bucks, I wasn't happy, but it made she who shall not be disobeyed happy.

My mom takes her jeep primarily to the dealership, but thats only been for the CEL and some factory recalls, up to this point. Took it to a private shop after the dealership wanted to flush her transmission and replace a bunch of seals, private shop did great work and worked WITH me in diagnosing a vacuum leak for a fraction of the cost...some really cool guys!

 

I have only had my motorcycle serviced 1x...took it into the honda dealer who will be selling me my next bike. They did good work for alot of $$, but now I'm more learned in motorcycle mechanics, so I won't have to again!

 

 

Honestly it sums up to how much you like/can do the jobs. A good friend/teacher of mine once told me he was taking his SAS'd blazer to an offroad shop to change the shocks out, I was like "wtf?? can't you do that in 10 minutes in the driveway?" and he said "When you get to where I am in life, your time becomes more valuable than your money" and I've always remembered that. Sure you could do it for no labor charges, but it could take you a week to finish, and not be done right, or you could pay a shop $200 in labor, give a guy a bump in his pay for the week, and be happy.

 

My beef comes into the PARTS costs....because they not only BUY these things at a discounted rate, but then SELL them to you at a premium! Not once has a dealership given me the opportunity to supply my own parts, but every private shop i've visited has given me 100 different options, whether it be who they get it from, what quality it is, or if I bring it in!!

 

Wow!! this is a freaking novel!!

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Can a layman with common sense look at a repair manual and figure out how to replace a part?

 

common sense and PATIENCE... Absolutely YES!

That is all I've ever done.

Read the FSM. Read the Hanes manual. Look at the part until you understand what it does, and how it works. Buy or borrow the right tools and don't skimp on them. And don't be too afraid to take on a daunting job, it's the best way to learn.

The first thing I did after cracking the case of my transmission was to mount the centre plate in a benchvise, crack a beer (or 3), and sit there for over an hour spinning the gears and moving the shift forks, until i figured out how it worked.

 

 

I personally can't speak about the quality of dealer repairs, since I've never taken my vehicle to a dealer for service.

But... I have had very mixed results with independent shops. I've found errors in the work of 2 of the last 3 mechanics that I've been to (improper assembly in one case, and a missing part in another.

 

The 3rd mechanic I trust, but he usually encourages me to do the work myself. Maybe because he's getting old, or maybe I ask too many questions) huh.gif

 

I feel confident enough in my own work now, that the only reason I would go to a mechanic would be if the cost of the tools that i would need for a job would be more expensive than having someone else do the work. For example... an alignment.

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I have worked at many dealerships and independent shops and here is the absolute truth.

 

At the dealer: the techs are usually more passionate about that car line, will do a good job, factory trained, and the dealer will have every special tool to do every job.

 

At independant shops: more focused on beating "flat rate time", usually use after market(cheap) parts, will have to fab(m)ricate special tools

 

My personal experiance at independent: if I had a car that I didn't like (almost every chevy) I would not even change the oil, but rather top off oil and put new sticker on it, I almost never did any fluid flushes because they were messy, if you pissed me off I will make sure to leave bolts out of your car

 

When I worked for the dealer I always did a good job and never had any complaints because the cars are easier to work on as they mostly all newer with no rust or leaks.

 

If you take it to a specialty independant shop they will usually do a good job because they only focus on certain car lines.

 

By the way I also am an ASE master tech

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I go to a mechanic only if there is something I don't have the time or ability to do myself, and usually then I go to a dealer. Odds are that they will do a better job (unless you go to a specialized shop), rather than a general garage. That said, one of the best mechanics I knew owned a gas station with 2 bays... :shrug:

 

Simply put, for most of my life I didn't have enough $ to afford a mechanic and I'm a gear head anyway, so I learned. Now that I have my own house with garage, I wouldn't hesitate to build a motor or repair a tranny (manuals and the internet are great!). The dealership here charges $130/hr and quite frankly, that is robbery. I would have to work a week to cover 1 day of repairs so I'm far better off spending 1-2 days working on the truck myself... :shrug:

 

I have had people try to rip me off, even after I had informed them that I am a machinist and generally do my own mechanics. I have caught others making simple, stupid mistakes too so I don't always trust other people to work on my vehicles. :shrug:

 

B

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I just had a kid, so I'll probably be forced to use professionals more often now, but for me the biggest problem is finding someone I trust. I don't really know how to do it. Lots of people will probably try to rip you off... and maybe more than that just won't do a great job. If I'm paying $100 an hour or whatever I'd kinda like it to be at least as good as what I can do myself.

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I just had a kid, so I'll probably be forced to use professionals more often now, but for me the biggest problem is finding someone I trust. I don't really know how to do it. Lots of people will probably try to rip you off... and maybe more than that just won't do a great job. If I'm paying $100 an hour or whatever I'd kinda like it to be at least as good as what I can do myself.

 

Check with friends and neighbors or relations about a good mechanic that they can recommend word of mouth usually works pretty good,

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