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Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 11:29 AM   #1
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Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

So, I went to the Honda dealer last week, since I was in the area and the front brakes seemed to be making a little noise. They told me I needed new front brakes ($429) and I would get a "deal" on the 60K maintenance package ($299), so they wanted $728 plus tax. I noticed the serpentine belt had a few cracks in it (it's original) and asked if it was still ok, and they said yes. However, I thought $728 was a little high, so I got a "2nd opinion"..........

Independent mechanic (ASE certified, 75-80% of all work is on imports) told me the following:

The Honda 60K package could be done by them for $99, (they keep all the maintenance package requirements for imports on their computers) unless I needed a transmission fluid service, then it would be $175.

The brakes were FINE, had 75% life left, but the pads were a little glazed, so they were going to spray some stuff on them and they think it will fix the problem.........

The serpentine belt had enough cracks to be considered marginal, and suggested replacement. Total cost for that is $79.

Total cost, including oil change for the independent, was $238 plus tax. I did not need the fluid service because I did that at 45000 miles (creature of habit).

So I saved $500...............
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 11:33 AM   #2
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

I've been using an independent mechanic for my BMW ever since the included maintenance expired. I've saved hundreds of $$$ every time.

One of the biggest profit centers for auto dealers are their service bays.
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 04:31 PM   #3
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Ah the maintenance scam.

I've had similar experiences with the dealer. So your story is no surprise to me.

Maintenance aside, I will say though that the trick to saving money is finding an independent mechanic who really knows your car. Usually an independent mechanic will have a general idea but won't always know the little oddities about your particular model as perhaps the dealership will.

If you could find an independent shop that only works on Hondas then when you have a problem they may be the best bet.

By the way, putting a serpentine belt on is really easy. If you learned how to do the easy stuff yourself then you could save $50-60 on that job. I could put a serpentine belt on my car in under 5 minutes.
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 05:10 PM   #4
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

My neighbor is a semi-retired mechanic, so he does most any work that our vehicles need...unless there is a warranty that covers it. He works for cost of parts and materials (if needed), and cold adult beverages.

If it is something that is beyond his scope or ability, we have a mutual friend who owns an independent garage a few blocks from us, and either he or I will take it there.

Warranty work gets done by the dealer, and they give us (free of charge) a loaner car.
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 05:13 PM   #5
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterblaster
I could put a serpentine belt on my car in under 5 minutes.
So when can you stop by?
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 05:18 PM   #6
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

I got an oil change at Precision Auto Care and they said I needed a new serpentine belt because ours is cracked. Estimate: $99

So for somebody who has never done anything more complex than changing a headlight or changing a tire... think I could do this one and not break the car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterblaster
By the way, putting a serpentine belt on is really easy. If you learned how to do the easy stuff yourself then you could save $50-60 on that job. I could put a serpentine belt on my car in under 5 minutes.
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 05:36 PM   #7
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peaceful_Warrior
I got an oil change at Precision Auto Care and they said I needed a new serpentine belt because ours is cracked. Estimate: $99

So for somebody who has never done anything more complex than changing a headlight or changing a tire... think I could do this one and not break the car?
99 bucks to change a belt on a car seems like a deal to me. OF course Im pretty lazy
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 05:41 PM   #8
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
So, I went to the Honda dealer last week, since I was in the area and the front brakes seemed to be making a little noise.
Both of our clunkers have had squeaky rotors for at least two years. However the brake pads aren't wearing away-- they're just making noise.

I think you need to roll up the windows and crank up the classic rock. No charge.*

*For a small additional fee I'll share my latest pamphlet "Secrets of Dealing with Minor Muffler Noise".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peaceful_Warrior
I got an oil change at Precision Auto Care and they said I needed a new serpentine belt because ours is cracked. Estimate: $99
So for somebody who has never done anything more complex than changing a headlight or changing a tire... think I could do this one and not break the car?
A better question might be if you can find anyone who's ever had a serpentine belt break on them. I haven't heard of this happening for years.

But if you've decided that it has to be done and you're willing to experiment then go read a Chilton's or Haynes' at your local library, buy the belt from an auto parts store, and have fun. Even if you totally screw it up you'll probably still be able to drive the car to a mechanic.

The only things you have to lose are your time and the skin from your knuckles...

I'm dreading the day that spouse and I buy a car made in this millenium, raise the hood, and see the engine compartment filled with a large integrated circuit cover that says "No user-serviceable parts inside. Please drive car to your dealer for more information and assistance."

Or even worse: "Start. Where would you like to go today?"
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 05:49 PM   #9
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

For those who do change their belt, here's a tip---always save the old belt and tuck it away in your trunk just in case you pop the new one on a Sunday in Hooterville. If you've got a belt then all you need is a "good ol boy" to put it on, or a few basic tools to DIY.
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 06:42 PM   #10
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

As to changing the belt: Look at it in your engine compartment, stick your hands in there and imagine taking the old one off.

If this seems reasonable, like you have enough clearance, then doing it yourself should be pretty easy. I've done my jeep, as I recall I might have had to move a plastic shield out of the way but maybe not.

Usually there is one pulley called the 'tensioner', that is on a spring-loaded arm, so that pulley pushes against the belt and provides tension. You might be able to push this aside a bit with your hands, to relieve tension on the belt.

Heck you could try removing and reinstalling the old one before you spring for a new belt. If you can get the old one off, I predict you can get the new one on.

If you are really afraid, a digital camera can come in mighty handy to record the position of something like this belt for when you forget just how it goes back on.
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 07:02 PM   #11
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

What runchman said. The camera thing is a very good idea.

Some idler/tension pulleys have a square grove you can insert a socket wrench (without sockete) into for leverage to release the tension. On our Bonneville, I had to loosen a motor mount to swap serpentines, but it wasn't anything major.

A Chiltons definitely helps. It may even be worth springing for your own
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 07:09 PM   #12
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
The brakes were FINE, had 75% life left, but the pads were a little glazed, so they were going to spray some stuff on them and they think it will fix the problem.........

The serpentine belt had enough cracks to be considered marginal, and suggested replacement. Total cost for that is $79.

Total cost, including oil change for the independent, was $238 plus tax. I did not need the fluid service because I did that at 45000 miles (creature of habit).

So I saved $500...............
So you paid $238 for an accessory belt, and an oil change. And you are happy
Belt $30, Oil $10, Oil filter $4. Total parts $34. Estimated labor: 1 hr at $200/hr. It's definitely cheaper than $600/hr at the dealer, but still, that's a lot of money.


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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 07:26 PM   #13
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

For the mechanically challenged. Check out this little video on changing the Serpentine belt...

It's kind of like riding a bicycle. If someone shows you once you won't forget.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/vid...erpentine.html

What they didn't say in the video is that you put a ratchet or a box wrench on the spring loaded tensioner, then turn to a quarter turn or so to release tension on the belt.
The belt just slides right off then. Then you just put the new belt on. Make sure you follow the belt diagram that's posted on the inside of the hood (watch the video).

Here's another website that discribes the process...


[Moderator edit to shorten one of the world's longest URLs...

Attached Images
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File Type: jpg Serpentine_belt_diagram.jpg (36.8 KB, 5 views)
Attached Files
File Type: gif_thumb belt_tension_diagram.gif_thumb (47.5 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg_thumb Serpentine_belt_diagram.jpg_thumb (47.5 KB, 0 views)
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 07:34 PM   #14
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

My wife has her serpentine belt break just a few weeks ago. She noticed it because the car wouldn't turn as she tried to back out of the driveway. It turns out that the tensioner had broke taking the belt with it (apparently as she pulled into the driveway the night before). I replaced both-but it was very difficult to tighten the nut on the tensioner due to it's location.

Bultacoman
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 07:37 PM   #15
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Even if you totally screw it up you'll probably still be able to drive the car to a mechanic.
Well to be fair and balanced, for some cars that use the serpentine belt to turn the water pump, if there is no belt on the car you won't get very far before overheating.
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 07:51 PM   #16
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
So you paid $238 for an accessory belt, and an oil change. And you are happy
Belt $30, Oil $10, Oil filter $4. Total parts $34. Estimated labor: 1 hr at $200/hr. It's definitely cheaper than $600/hr at the dealer, but still, that's a lot of money.
Not exactly, guess I left a little out. They replaced the cabin air filter (never replaced) which I have heard is a pain in the butt. Replaced the main air filter, rotated the tires, oil change, adjusted the rear calipers, squirted stuff on the front pads to help with the noise, put lithium grease in the driver's door window tracks to eliminate a creak, replaced the serpentine belt, lubricated the door hinges, and perfomed a overall safety inspection.

That doesn't seem too out of line for all that.............. Plus, the comment when I picked it up was priceless:

"That Honda is really clean and in super shape. Guess we won't be seeing you for 30-40,000 miles"..............
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 09:43 PM   #17
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bultacoman
My wife has her serpentine belt break just a few weeks ago. She noticed it because the car wouldn't turn as she tried to back out of the driveway. It turns out that the tensioner had broke taking the belt with it (apparently as she pulled into the driveway the night before). I replaced both-but it was very difficult to tighten the nut on the tensioner due to it's location.

Bultacoman
Do you retard the timing and bumpstart the car backwards instead of having her put it in reverse?

cheers,
Michael
(former owner of a 1974 Bultaco 325 Sherpa T)
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 09:49 PM   #18
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
The brakes were FINE, had 75% life left, but the pads were a little glazed, so they were going to spray some stuff on them and they think it will fix the problem.........
Liquid sand paper?
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-11-2007, 11:44 PM   #19
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterblaster
By the way, putting a serpentine belt on is really easy. If you learned how to do the easy stuff yourself then you could save $50-60 on that job. I could put a serpentine belt on my car in under 5 minutes.
Wow! That's really fast!

Last time I did one, it took all afternoon. Just getting the beer and ice into the cooler took 10 minutes. Then it was another hour before all the buddies showed up. Getting the rabbit ears antenna on the little portable TV out in the garage adjusted so we could watch the Cubs game on WGN seemed to take forever. Harry, my old highschool buddy from the south side was supposed to stop and pick up the new belt on the way, but he forgot. By the time the Cubs game was over and we figured we better actually change the belt before my DW got home, he was too buzzed to send to get it, so I had to go. When I got back with the new belt, it only took a few minutes to change it. But, overall, it was an all afternoon job. And don't you ever let my DW know otherwise!
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!
Old 04-12-2007, 12:07 AM   #20
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Re: Independent Mechanic vs Honda Dealer.........not even close!!

Some of the reason I have accumulated money is so I DON"T have to do some work that I don't want to do.... working on cars is one of them...

And I was surprised one day when I went to my sisters house... my BIL who was a car mechanic way back when was doing a brake job on his daughters car... I asked if he did it on my sisters car... she said "No, he said we make enough money to get it done at the shop".. he will not touch his own cars... But, since his daughter did not have much money and her brakes were shot, he did it because he was DAD... and would not 'pay' to get her car fixed..
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