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Old 03-17-2008, 12:32 PM   #21
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I second the idea of finding a good independent mechanic. I drive an '02 BMW (now with >92,000 miles) and I got real tired, real fast of paying the outrageous charges for dealer service. I asked around and got a recommendation for a mechanic shop that has been terrific-- and about 1/3 the cost!
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:40 PM   #22
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What makes people think that independent mechanics are going to be more honest than the dealership? Just curious.
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:45 PM   #23
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fI never made that assumption. I only went with this mechanic after lots of discussion with folks whose opinion I respect and who use this place. Like everything else, it's buyer beware -- so ask lots of questions!
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:47 PM   #24
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What makes people think that independent mechanics are going to be more honest than the dealership? Just curious.
In my experience, a good independent mechanic usually has more work piled up than they need. They don't need to upsell a bunch of unnecessary repairs/maintenance items because they've got another job right behind yours. I'm sure that's not universally true, but that's been my experience.
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:58 PM   #25
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Thanks!

That was also very helpful. Also, glad to hear I don't have to keep pumping premium gas! No wonder LBYM was so hard before!
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:32 PM   #26
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What makes people think that independent mechanics are going to be more honest than the dealership? Just curious.
Well, IMHO, they are.........but you have to ask around..........
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:33 PM   #27
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I'd like to 2nd or 3rd those recommending a good independent mechanic. You may be able to find a mechanic in your town that specializes in foreign car repair. A lexus may be similar to its Toyota bretheren as far as some repairs are concerned but i am not knowledgeable enough to say for sure. Sometimes, it may be worth paying for good service so you need to weigh that out too, along with convenience and how quickly the car is returned to you.
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:41 PM   #28
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Most independent mechanics I know got their start working for dealerships. They figured out they could charge less than a dealer and get a ton of work, and in the end make more money,so they did........

However, mine is pretty funny about it. When I told him I sold my Chrysler Town and Country and bought a Honda Odyssey to go along with my Accord, he rolled his eyes and said: "So, you sold the only thing I could use as a profit center,thanks a lot!"
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:47 PM   #29
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:51 PM   #30
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Plus when you do it yourself you know what oil is going in and how much of it, you know everything is tightened down correctly, you probably won't leave grease on the steering wheel and you don't need to strip the car of all those goodies that may be ripped off during the oil change.

That said, I occasionally take the beast in to get the grease job done...That part is not worth the hassle to me.

Ok, i know this is the slam the crooked incompetent dealer mechanic thread, but just another viewpoint. Most of the mechanics i've known do the best job they can - granted, they do it in the most efficient way possible - do you do any different in your job? There is a lot of variety in mechanical ability - some mechanics are very good, some are horrible. Ditto for doctors, fry cooks, engineers. Dealerships have required training that the mechanics are subjected to for the newest dealership models. A big advantage to dealership mechanics is that they see a lot of the same model and age cars - common to a particular model/year problems are spotted quickly - an independent may see your year and model once every few weeks, if that.
IMHO, the sharpest and the laziest mechanics open their own shops. I've worked as a dealership mechanic and had my own VW/import shop. We had a loyal group of people bringing cars my partner and me, but if it was a year or so old - it really needed to be at the dealership. I was in the lazy camp - older VW repair could be done by any ol' schmuck. That said, it was amazing the amount of damage a person trying to do their own work on stone simple cars could cause. Maybe most people can still change a tire without dropping the car on themselves or crossthreading the lugbolts, maybe they can even torque the lugs properly and not have the tire pass them on the highway, much past that and it really depends on whether they are willing to learn how to do something properly. I hated working on the cars someone else had tried to fix - they took off too many of the wrong things, lost or boogered fasteners, and broke bolts off with wild abandon (i'm thinking of you, Rabbit water pumps!).
For me, dealership gets it for the first year or two while it's under warranty, good independent after that, owner does the work if they like wrenching and have the skill.
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Old 03-17-2008, 03:27 PM   #31
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What makes people think that independent mechanics are going to be more honest than the dealership? Just curious.
(For my mechanic) It's because he's a small business owner in a town full of wealthy professionals. If he screwed people over he would be out of business in a few days.

But in general they are more honest because they wouldn't be able to make a living otherwise. With an independent you usually aren't dealing through a service manager. If he doesn't fix something correctly I'm going to be complaining to the guy who did the work.
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Old 03-17-2008, 03:47 PM   #32
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That said, it was amazing the amount of damage a person trying to do their own work on stone simple cars could cause. Maybe most people can still change a tire without dropping the car on themselves or crossthreading the lugbolts, maybe they can even torque the lugs properly and not have the tire pass them on the highway, much past that and it really depends on whether they are willing to learn how to do something properly. I hated working on the cars someone else had tried to fix - they took off too many of the wrong things, lost or boogered fasteners, and broke bolts off with wild abandon (i'm thinking of you, Rabbit water pumps!).
For me, dealership gets it for the first year or two while it's under warranty, good independent after that, owner does the work if they like wrenching and have the skill.
That's what I did, everything at the dealer while they were under warranty, kept the receipts, that way no quibbles about whether maintenance was done. But I'm also the one who bought the service manuals and read them - "okay, this I can fix, this I better keep my grubby mitts off of." And I own - and use - a torque wrench.

There is a reason for the sign in the independent shop's lobby: Rates: $50/hour. If you watch, $75/hour. Repair your repairs, $100/hour. Eons ago I did heating & A/C service so I sure understand it!

The independent shop I found is perhaps a rarity, they put a plastic seat cover and plastic steering wheel cover in before the technician gets in. And they are technicians - basically all the cars now have computer networks integrated into the vehicles to squeeze that last .01 mpg they can out of it while maintaining some semblance of reliability. The service "manual" on the pickup is five volumes, one whole book for just the electronics on the engine. And that's five years old now.

The salesguy where I bought the vehicles said, and I believe him, that the dealer doesn't sell one model of Cadillac because it would have required spending two million on diagnostic gear for just that one model. For a small dealership the numbers just didn't work.

The manufacturers are not only out to eke every nickel they can from you, but from the dealers too, hence designing for all the special tools that the dealers have to buy from... guess who.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:12 PM   #33
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I either do my own or go to a good indy. When I had my BMW even the indy was expensive, but was 1/2 of the BMW dealership.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:18 PM   #34
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Somebody on this forum IIRC, suggested going to Cartalk and looking for mechanics who specializing your type of car. I did so recently and went with the highest rated Accura guy in my area. I must say I was delighted with the service, price especially compared to the dealers.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:46 PM   #35
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For warranty work, I take it to the dealership where I bought it. The owner is one of the most honorable gentlemen that I've ever met! I've known him and his family for many years, and have never heard a bad thing about him or his business dealings! His dealership is in a small town about 6 or 7 miles away from here.....the only new car dealership left in that town. He has some of the best mechanics around, and they only do the needed repairs and/or maintenance, and not all that other "bill padding" crapola! I've had things done there a few of times (non-warranty), and when I went settle the bill, the service manager said "No charge.....didn't take very long.....and nobody missed their coffee break! Have a nice day!"

For normal maintenance and most non-warranty stuff, I either take it to an independent 'wrench' a few blocks from home, or to my neighbor who used to work for him before he fully retired (he still does some work for him when the guy gets swamped). Both of them do excellent work, and neither of them charge excessive amounts for it! In fact, my neighbor replaced the transmission in my last car a few years ago.......charged me $250 labor....the 'wrench' was too busy and sent me to my neighbor!

Back in my (much) younger days, I used to do almost all of my own work, either in the driveway or the garage. Shocks, brakes, exhaust, oil changes....even rebuilt an engine and lots of carburetors. Now I'm older and lazier, and figure I saved enough money over the years by doing my own repairs, that now I can boost the local economy by paying someone else to bust their knuckles!
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:49 PM   #36
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The indie I've been going to for most stuff for ~15 years went out of business. Now I've got to go through the crap of finding a replacement.
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Old 03-17-2008, 08:10 PM   #37
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The indie I've been going to for most stuff for ~15 years went out of business. Now I've got to go through the crap of finding a replacement.
Is there any possibility of being able to get in touch with him to see who he might recommend as his 'replacement'? Just a thought.
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Old 03-17-2008, 08:19 PM   #38
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Is there any possibility of being able to get in touch with him to see who he might recommend as his 'replacement'? Just a thought.
I'll try; wish he'd sent his long term customers that info..
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Old 03-17-2008, 08:20 PM   #39
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Ok, i know this is the slam the crooked incompetent dealer mechanic thread, but just another viewpoint. Most of the mechanics i've known do the best job they can - granted, they do it in the most efficient way possible - do you do any different in your job? There is a lot of variety in mechanical ability - some mechanics are very good, some are horrible. Ditto for doctors, fry cooks, engineers. Dealerships have required training that the mechanics are subjected to for the newest dealership models. A big advantage to dealership mechanics is that they see a lot of the same model and age cars - common to a particular model/year problems are spotted quickly - an independent may see your year and model once every few weeks, if that.
IMHO, the sharpest and the laziest mechanics open their own shops. I've worked as a dealership mechanic and had my own VW/import shop. We had a loyal group of people bringing cars my partner and me, but if it was a year or so old - it really needed to be at the dealership. I was in the lazy camp - older VW repair could be done by any ol' schmuck. That said, it was amazing the amount of damage a person trying to do their own work on stone simple cars could cause. Maybe most people can still change a tire without dropping the car on themselves or crossthreading the lugbolts, maybe they can even torque the lugs properly and not have the tire pass them on the highway, much past that and it really depends on whether they are willing to learn how to do something properly. I hated working on the cars someone else had tried to fix - they took off too many of the wrong things, lost or boogered fasteners, and broke bolts off with wild abandon (i'm thinking of you, Rabbit water pumps!).
For me, dealership gets it for the first year or two while it's under warranty, good independent after that, owner does the work if they like wrenching and have the skill.
I kinda do that. While it's under warranty, I got to the dealer for any warranty-related issues, TSB's etc..........they're the only place that can do that. Also, I ALWAYS do the 30,000 maintenance package, except I take it a step further. About 1,000 miles before the manufacturer's warranty ends, I ask the service manager to do the same inspections they do when they certify a used car for sale. I pay the extra labor charge for the extra time they spend. I ask for the list of what was inspected, the wear amounts on things like brakes, etc.

I started doing this when I owned a domestic car that had a TON of stuff go wrong with it about 1,000 miles after the warranty lapsed. When I complained to the manufacturer, and gave them the documentation, they fixed all the problems for nothing. To me it is money well spent.......
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Old 03-17-2008, 08:50 PM   #40
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Somebody on this forum IIRC, suggested going to Cartalk and looking for mechanics who specializing your type of car. I did so recently and went with the highest rated Accura guy in my area. I must say I was delighted with the service, price especially compared to the dealers.
It was me that made the Cartalk Mechanics Files recommendation. I've found good mechanics for my (now) wife, myself and my MIL using that resource. Unless the service is very technical (computer / emission related) or under warranty, I've found the small shops to be better and cheaper than the dealer.
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