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jkelley9

This is why you should do your own car maintenance

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I know the type that like to complain about everything when it comes to dropping your car off to be worked on. How they "wouldn't trust anybody."

Well I'm finding some merit to that, and it covers multiple auto shops with my wife's car. Not just one.

I used to just work on my own truck and my s2000 and left my wife's 2003 honda accord maintenance needs to a few small shops over the past few years (we've moved a few times) since I figured it's an extremely common car and they ought to know how to do simple routine maintenance correctly.

We're leaving for a road trip tomorrow so we prefer to take my wife's car. I figured I'd go ahead and do her oil change and do a xx-point checkup for her because I had an extra vacation day to blow and I pride myself on preparedness.

Things I found:

1. Tire pressure was ALL OVER THE PLACE. Above maximum allowable pressure on one tire, below minimum on another, and the other two were way off too.

2. The oil drain bolt was on so tight that it nearly fused the crush washer to the bolt head. it had actually beveled, and was also the wrong size. It would not separate. Thank goodness I had a spare oil drain bolt and crush washer on hand... 

3. Her oil filter was on so tight I had to hammer a screwdriver through it to get it to turn. (I don't have her wrench size yet).

4. I saw several bolts with "channel locks" teeth marks...

5. And here's what put me over the edge. Last time they did a "fluid check" they told her that every one of her fluid components had "a small leak," including engine oil leak, PS fluid leak, ATF fluid leak, and coolant leak. Funny, there's not a drop of fluid on my garage floor (I would know.. because that's "my" area) and all her levels were perfect and didn't budge over the last 5000 miles before dropping it off to them. The part that REALLY put me over the edge? THEY FORGOT TO PUT THE BRAKE RESERVOIR CAP BACK ON. I open the friggin hood today and it's GONE. If any of you know how brake fluid works, it's an incompressible fluid with a high boiling point but it's also extremely hydroscopic (absorbs water from humidity in the air and spoils). That's why it's a closed system. So thanks for that, mr. mechanic. My wife's brake system is know saturated with water and has to be completely bled.

I used to think that the bad stories just had more magnitude and overshadowed the good mechanics. I'm sure that's still true to some degree. But when all of these things are done so poorly between different mechanics... there's some merit. 

Not to mention shops charge an obscene amount for even the simplest of repairs. $95+/hour, then they take 2-3x as long to do it as the book says (which is already modest). 

I have found a few good mechanics, though. Unfortunately they are very, very far away from me now.

/rant

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Did a Jiffy Lube once - they didn't fasten the air filter cap on.  Just sat there with the wingnut loose until I got home and saw it.

Last repair was a simple keyless lock replacement - shop estimated $98 for the part and $108 for the work - over $200!!!----I found the part on line for $50 and it took me 15 minutes to replace....  On the plus side at least the dealer was willing to give me the part number so my parts search was easier, it wasn't an easy one to track down.  And this is a good shop IMO.

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As with every job, there are many incompetent people doing car maintenance work.  I do my own routine maintenance work for my car.

Unfortunately, it's the big items, like 30K maintenance that has me cringing at the work done by others.

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I'm a firm believer, if you find a good car mechanic, you have found gold.  There aren't many.   I really do believe that many mechanics see an inexperienced person, whether man or woman, coming and take advantage of them.   

 

With the newer technology, the shade tree mechanic has almost disappeared.  

Edited by dennyjones

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Every line of work has incompetent workers who want to do your work. Car maintenance companies might be one of the worst. 

I have three vehicles I maintain myself. All the normal routine stuff is no big deal for me.  

Now sometimes there pops up some repairs that involve some extra elbow grease, and specialty tools. If I need a hoist, I know a place in town that will rent hoist time for $40 an hour. Includes any specialty tools I might need. This comes in handy sometimes, for oil changes, tire rotations, brake work, serpentine belts, etc....

Larger, heavier items, I might contact the loca highschool auto shop and donate what ever money they require for labor. Their work has always been satisfactory. I buy the parts needed, and the student(s) do the work for a grade, based on the quality of work they performed.  A little time consuming, but like I said, the work is always satisfactory. 

If I need something done right a way, that I can't, or don't want to handle, I know this guy who has a private little shop who beats everyone else's prices on parts and labor, who's people do excellant work, that he stands behind. He just beat the local Ford sales/service shop by $1k+ on some front end work I had done on my f-250- SD. Every town has one of these little shops. You just have to do some searching and find them. 

 

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My only question is, how do you know the amount they charge is obscene without knowing there costs?

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2 minutes ago, 14ledo81 said:

My only question is, how do you know the amount they charge is obscene without knowing there costs?

I have a Haynes Manual for all my vehicles. They contain a lot of info on repairs. Another area to look at is You Tube. You can watch the repair being done, and get a decent estimate for the time it takes to do the work. After that, a good number to use for labor is $80 an hour. As far as parts prices, any of the parts outlet stores can get you a ball park price. If in your estimation with all this info known, the guy is asking to much, ask him why. 

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20 minutes ago, dennyjones said:

I'm a firm believer, if you find a good car mechanic, you have found gold.  There aren't many.   I really do believe that many mechanics see an inexperienced person, whether man or woman, coming and take advantage of them.   

 

With the newer technology, the shade tree mechanic has almost disappeared.  

I agree with this. 

When I was younger, I would do my own brakes, oil changes and some advanced repairs at the urging of my brother-in-law... timing belt, cv joints, wheel bearings, etc. I even replaced the clutch on an old 1970's Renault which required the rear mounted engine to be removed.

No more.

I change the oil in my truck and top off fluids on our other vehicles, but that's about it. I hate working on cars.

Fortunately, we have a local mechanic who has earned our trust with quality work and reasonable rates. The cost of the parts is a wash, and I'll gladly pay his labor as opposed to spending my entire weekend trying to diagnose the problem, pickup the parts, and struggle with the limited set of mechanics tools I own.

But, as others have said, not all mechanics are like him.

I stopped taking my car to the quick lube oil change shops years ago because they'd constantly be trying to sell some additive or service that wasn't needed. The straw that broke the camel's back was when my aluminum skid plate started dragging on the road after they failed to properly re-instal it. They're just screws for cryin' out loud!

Oddly enough, I enjoy working on small engines. It's almost therapeutic at times.

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30 minutes ago, Patch said:

I have a Haynes Manual for all my vehicles. They contain a lot of info on repairs. Another area to look at is You Tube. You can watch the repair being done, and get a decent estimate for the time it takes to do the work. After that, a good number to use for labor is $80 an hour. As far as parts prices, any of the parts outlet stores can get you a ball park price. If in your estimation with all this info known, the guy is asking to much, ask him why. 

Where do you get the $80 an hour from?  What if each tech hour costs the shop $85 an hour?

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6 minutes ago, 14ledo81 said:

Where do you get the $80 an hour from?  What if each tech hour costs the shop $85 an hour?

I'm guessing that was an educated guess.  

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17 minutes ago, dennyjones said:

 

I'm guessing that was an educated guess.  

Or just a guess....

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1 hour ago, 14ledo81 said:

Where do you get the $80 an hour from?  What if each tech hour costs the shop $85 an hour?

I was going by what the repair garages around here charge as a guideline. I guess my mistake was to imply (?)  it is $80 every where. If it's $85 in your area, then obviously that is what you should use. It would be obvious, right? Most repair shops have a sign posted as to what their hourly labor charge is. I should probably stay away from threads like this in future......lol

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8 minutes ago, Patch said:

I was going by what the repair garages around here charge as a guideline. I guess my mistake was to imply (?)  it is $80 every where. If it's $85 in your area, then obviously that is what you should use. It would be obvious, right? Most repair shops have a sign posted as to what their hourly labor charge is. I should probably stay away from threads like this in future......lol

I just think something was lost in the translation... 

My point was more about how someone would know if a price was "obscene" or not.  The small guy working out of his garage may have little to no overhead and could charge $50 an hour and have the majority of that be profit.  A big shop could possibly only be breaking even at $80 an hour.

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2 hours ago, dennyjones said:

I'm a firm believer, if you find a good car mechanic, you have found gold.  There aren't many.   I really do believe that many mechanics see an inexperienced person, whether man or woman, coming and take advantage of them.   

 

With the newer technology, the shade tree mechanic has almost disappeared.  

100% agree with all of the above.  My wife won't take her Honda Pilot in for anything other than a simple oil change or tire change anymore because the guy at the shop keeps saying that all these things need to be fixed ASAP.  Hell, last time she went in for an oil change the morons broke the dip stick and it dropped down into the oil pan.  Now I've got to get that sorted next time she gets her oil changed.

I've had my fair share of run-in's with crappy mechanics.  My first car in high school was a 1970 Dodge Dart (ironically, the exact same year/model/make that my dad drove in high school).  I loved it but had to have a bit of work done to the power steering system.  One day on the freeway the steering wheel just turned hard right on it's own!  Thankfully it didn't lock up otherwise it would have sent me through the median into oncoming traffic at 70 mph.  Turns out the mechanic left a work rag in there and somehow it got caught up in the power steering and yanked the wheel on me.  I could go on and on and on about the 'shade tree mechanics' I dealt with on that car.

Find yourself a good one and hold on to him tight because they are few and far between these days.

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I've got a decent place near me for minor maintenance stuff, like oil changes, really just a Firestone shop that has been in business a long time with good management. Haven't had great luck with most places like that, but this one's good.

Have had trouble though finding anyone decent for anything they won't do. One guy forgot to put the power steering fluid container back into it's bracket after working on the car. Twice. First time I actually caught it myself. Second time I didn't notice until I was losing the power steering due to the hole that a belt had worn in the container.

I know I should have taken it back and complained and had them fix it, but once I know they're that bad, I prefer just to not let them work on my car again. Actually patched it for awhile with JB Weld, then when that started to leak a bit, finally ordered a replacement container online and installed it myself.

Also have had to do my own transmission fluid, after the last guy I went to for that overfilled it.

Then there is the one highest priced place in the area that does do good work, but charges a lot and always wants to do more than they really needs to be done. Go to them with one thing you want done and they'll give you an argument and a hard sell.

So yeah, I'm also turning into a reluctant auto-mechanic.

 

 

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I normally take both my cars to a family friend who is a mobile mechanic for MOT's, servicing and such and never have a problem. Earlier this year the power steering belt on my little Peugeot shredded and jammed the pump. Turned out the person who owned the car before me botched a repair on the pipe for the power steering causing it to rub the belt.

Anyway, my usual mechanic was on holiday and we got quoted £600 for the repair. My father in law was a mechanic in his youth and said he would have a go.

So, the pipe was bought new for £70, labour was 5 mugs of tea.

Next we found the pump was damaged. Was quoted £200 for a new one. Went to a breakers and got a nearly new one for £25. 

so for £95 we did the job ourselves. "high street" mechanics will always overcharge. Yes they can do it quicker than you can do it at home but if you have the time and enough experience (or the balls to give it a go) many jobs can be done yourself. 

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A good mechanic is a gift from God! As is a vehicle that you can work on yourself!

I had any number of Ford Ranger pickups, and they were a delight to work on. Shocks, brakes, hubs and bearings, fluid changes, almost anything. Then my ride got totalled, and under the pressure of time I bought a GM product! I can't work on crap on this vehicle!

I also changed the clutch on an older Datsun (before they were Nissan) pickup truck. The shop wanted $650+ for the job, but shopping around I could find the parts for about $140! I did the job in my driveway! Now that I think back on it, the extra 5 hundy for the labor was probably worth it. I worked my ass off! But, I got it done!

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We have an excellent, very honest mechanic within walking distance of the house. His shop does a terrific job and costs less than most.

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Note: This thread is 1259 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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