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Auto Service $ - Is It Just Me?
Old 03-05-2015, 09:27 AM   #1
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Auto Service $ - Is It Just Me?

Without dwelling on prior service background (another thread), I dropped DW's Camry with 100K miles off for a more comprehensive/less routine service this morning. I had looked at the Owners Manual in advance so I felt I had a fairly good idea what needed to be done. When I made the appointment, I asked the service department:

Q: What is the recommended 90-100K service for her car?
A: 'The complete service is $595, makes the car like new again.'
Q: Do you have what specific services are included written anywhere, on paper, online, other?
A: Service guy looks at the other service rep (who shakes his head) and then tells me (counting on his fingers) 'No it's not written anywhere, but it includes new wiper blades, new cabin air filter (trivial items literally anyone can do), oil & filter, transmission, coolant, plugs and whatever else is needed?

I was very surprised. I called the other Toyota dealer nearby and they had a price ready, but they were even less specific about what services were included. I wasn't willing to drive all over Chicagoland looking for another dealer service.

Do most people really spend $595 on service without any idea what's included?

[I didn't leave it open ended after all, but that's also not the central discussion.]
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:40 AM   #2
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I don't - the owners manual should have a list of items that need serviced at 90K.


I'm not a Toyota guy but with Subarus the timing belt is one of the items needed around that mileage and it's a pain to replace.


With these new cars plugs can be a pita too - on Subarus you have to remove the air intake and washer bootle, etc.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:44 AM   #3
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I follow the recommended maintenance schedule in the owner's manual - no more and no less. I think these maintenance packages are just profitable "feel good" lists consisting mostly of "check this, check that".

The only service at a dealer is under warranty or if an independent can't do it - like a reflash of the electronics.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:44 AM   #4
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We have a Toyota Camry with 70k on it. Have the good fortune of finding an excellent mechanic recommended by friends. We are on a first name basis and he's very fair with pricing. If I don't need a particular check or part he tells me.

I stay away from the dealers as much as possible.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:51 AM   #5
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Had two Camrys, and they were very reliable. The only problem I had was when I went to the dealer for maintenance...

I recall that I went to a dealer for an oil change and a few other necessities I could not get to myself. I waited for the car.

After an hour or two, service manager came out and started rattling off a really long list of items. The one item I recall was the water pump. Car had less than 50K and the cost was incredible. They were gonna replace every belt, since they already would have to take many things off the engine. LOL. I asked her necessary the water pump replacement was, and she remarked that they saw a crust developing on the gasket. The bill was gonna be almost $2500! I thanked her and asked for an itemized repair estimate, but I'd just go back to work with my new oil.

I sold that car with 135K miles on it. Never needed a water pump.
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:01 AM   #6
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I just had my Jeep serviced last Monday. They had a list of recommended items for over $600 for the 30,000 mile service. The service writer showed me the list. It included four or five items recommended by Chrysler and about 20 items recommended by the dealer "for the local climate". I had them do the Chrysler recommended service which included an inspection, tire rotation, and oil change. They recommended changing the front and rear differential oil, although they also said it just slightly colored for $320! I declined that. I had previously purchased 4 oil changes so my total bill was $19.95 for the tire rotation.

After they did the inspection, they showed me what was recommended and I then agreed to the service items I wanted. No issue with not knowing what would be done before I agreed. There was no charge for the inspection.
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:06 AM   #7
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.......... There was no charge for the inspection.
The "inspections" are mostly an Easter Egg hunt for potential repairs that you may or may not need. I'd rather pay an independent shop to do an inspection that get a free one from a dealer.
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:06 AM   #8
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We did the 90-100k mile thing on our jeep. It was time to change the spark plugs, other than that just oil change. A couple of coupons and it was a little over $100 which we didn't think was particularly cheap. We do things like wiper blades ourselves.
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:11 AM   #9
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I do whatever routine maintenance the manufacturer recommends and decline the "dealer recommended" items. This has always worked well for me.
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:12 AM   #10
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"book" labor on spark plugs is prolly an hour at the shop rate


not sure how difficult it is to do on a jeep but you need to make sure they are correctly gapped, etc
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:18 AM   #11
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"book" labor on spark plugs is prolly an hour at the shop rate


not sure how difficult it is to do on a jeep but you need to make sure they are correctly gapped, etc
Yes it was mostly labor, but we aren't willing to do it ourselves and wanted it done correctly, so it doesn't really matter.
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:18 AM   #12
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I have a local mechanic who performs repairs on our vehicles of the type I'm not inclined to do so myself, due to time contraints. That'll change in a few months

I think those dealer "recommended" packages outside of warranty service are just part of the profit center focus of their repair departments. They're tailored to fleece the owner who is conditioned to rely on the "dealer" for expertise in recommending service, rather than for an informed owner.

Other than the PM described in the owners manual, if its not broke, or about to break, don't fix it. Auto mechanics is not a very complex or difficult field for most people to understand. The real value in having a professional mechanic perform a repair is really no different than hiring a plumber or electrician (or any other specialist for that matter) in performing an obvious task that may be out of the reach of a knowledgable perform in terms of tools, time, or inclination.

Besides, I'm a cheepskate, and if I can learn something new and save a few bucks in the process (maybe just once) its worth it to me.

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Old 03-05-2015, 10:19 AM   #13
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I don't do plugs myself either, anymore
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:02 AM   #14
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All of my local auto service shops (be it the car dealer's, or Firestone where I often have maintenance done) list all of the things to be done. One does need to read it - they throw a lot of B.S. to make it seem more comprehensive, by including "check operation of XXXXX" etc. I'm more concerned with actual things being replaced, such as air filters, needed fluids and so on.
I wouldn't leave my car with just a vague idea of what will be done. On the other hand, there are too few things on a car that I can do myself nowadays. As others mentioned, changing plugs used to be straightforward but now it's usually a complicated job, So I'm happy to pay for such services.
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:03 AM   #15
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Umm, that list they gave you sounds pretty comprehensive. I'm sure it also includes the standard inspect and lube and top off fluids. But when I add up roughly what those things should cost it's not quite $595.

I have found in the past that when I specify 30k maintenance package it seems to cost more than if I tell them "flush the coolant and replace the spark plugs and do x and y". The service package might be $300 while the individual services add to $240. I imagine it's pretty easy to price discriminate between those that know what services are required on what interval (per mfr's rec) versus those that know how to read and odometer and 30,000 means it's time for routine service.

And sometimes they throw in tire rotation and balance for $45-50 even though I get that free at discounttire. That might be the cost difference between "the package" and specifying individual services.

There's also the disconnect between the service sales guys at the dealership service dept versus the actual mechanics doing the repairs. Any of the experienced greasemonkeys could instantly tell you every service required for your vehicle for a given maintenance interval. The sales guys, not so much in my experience. I have a hard time talking to an actual mechanic and it's a little frustrating at times to deal in sales speak when I really want to deal with a technical expert.

One reason I like our independent Japanese auto shop better than the dealer if there's any complicated service required or something is wrong. They'll tell me "Honda says you must fix this. But you can run this car indefinitely and it won't matter if you fix it. If it breaks later, we can do x and y service and fix the instant problem as well for $10 over those other services".
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:05 AM   #16
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I had to talk DH out of his angst over the dealer charging a markup on the plugs compared to what we would pay ordering from Amazon. I had to remind him about the dealer keeping the inventory on hand, us not having to do the ordering, wait for delivery, etc., and a couple bucks a plug just didn't matter in the big picture.

We only go to the dealer for special work (like the time a bird nest in the engine compartment caught on fire). For for fluid changes, tire rotation, routine stuff we go to a nearby local franchise tire shop. They often have deals. They also happily balance and mount tires we order. We always end up ordering our tires online from tirerack as no one local ever carries exactly what we want.
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:16 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
Umm, that list they gave you sounds pretty comprehensive. I'm sure it also includes the standard inspect and lube and top off fluids. But when I add up roughly what those things should cost it's not quite $595.
It wasn't a complete list, it was just what the service rep could think of off the top of his head. When I took the car in today with 100K miles, I had summarized everything I expected to be done - based on the major services at 30K, 60K, and 90K (that I had consciously not had done at those intervals) from the manufacturers owners manual. We reviewed the list and they confirmed all of it would be done for $595.

Again, the question was: Do most people really spend $595 on service without any idea what's included? Some have answered, others maybe not...

And like others here, I was a passable shade tree mechanic in the 70's. I rebuilt carbs, replaced brake pads/rotors, water pumps, starters and all the trivial stuff. But there's nowhere near as much I'd even consider doing myself on a modern day car, even more so with two hybrids.
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:23 AM   #18
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There's also the disconnect between the service sales guys at the dealership service dept versus the actual mechanics doing the repairs. Any of the experienced greasemonkeys could instantly tell you every service required for your vehicle for a given maintenance interval. The sales guys, not so much in my experience. I have a hard time talking to an actual mechanic and it's a little frustrating at times to deal in sales speak when I really want to deal with a technical expert.
+1. The "ticketwriter" at the service desk probably knows very little about the work that will actually be done, aside from "it's the 90K mile service, and it costs $XX". The whole purpose of this setup is to prevent customers from talking with/taking the time of the better-paid mechanics doing the actual work on the cars.

What has worked for me when there has been trouble (had to take the car in several times for a problem they could not immediately diagnose) was to keep asking technical questions of the ticketwriter until they give up (normally they get their manager forst). Finally I was admitted tot he inner sanctum, had a 5 minute chat with the mechanic, and saved about $500 and was much happier when I left since I knew I had communicated directly with someone who could answer my questions.

IMO, dealers should keep the older techs around rather than letting them retire. If a guy is 65 and can't crawl around cars anymore but wants to keep working, let them work out front and help customers. Maybe take a pay cut, but get to stay clean and warm at the nice little desk.
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:27 AM   #19
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I checked this site for the recommended things to do, cost came to $56-99 and only mentioned these items, oil change,gasket, filter, inspect brakes/linings/pads/rotors and rotate/inspect tires. I input a Camry for 2005 and 2010 and you no longer have a timing belt to replace. I had a 1998 Camry, be careful of the trans fluid flushes, had one done when I was too busy to do it myself, charged me $130 then I had to do a recall 1-2 months later and they told me I needed another trans fluid flush! When I mentioned that I just had it done, he just said "Oh, it looks dirty" and stopped talking. This was also at a dealership in Chicago, Grossinger on the north side. I think the fluid flushes are big money makers for dealers. My neighbor was convinced by the Toyota dealer from downtown Chicago that he could only use Toyota antifreeze and that any 3rd party fluid would void the warranty. So he paid like $20 a container for Toyota coolant.

Oops, forgot the link for the estimator:
http://repairpal.com/estimator
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:30 AM   #20
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Again, the question was: Do most people really spend $595 on service without any idea what's included
No.
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